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Instant analysis: What you need to know about Cowboys 2022 draft pick Devin Harper

Oklahoma State’s Devin Harper remains a Cowboy.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big 12 Championship Game - Oklahoma State v Baylor Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cowboys have made their final draft selection for 2022. With the 193rd overall pick, Dallas took Oklahoma State linebacker Devin Harper. Just a few picks prior, Dallas drafted LSU linebacker Damone Clark, making this their second pick at the position in this draft.

Harper joins the NFL now after a five-year playing career at Oklahoma State. For those Cowboys, he spent three seasons as a rotational linebacker before becoming a full-time starter this past year. His 95 tackles in 2021 were second only to Malcolm Rodriguez, who came off the board just five picks earlier.

A native of Tennessee, Harper committed to the Cowboys as a 3-star recruit after they were his only Power 5 offer. For much of Harper’s career in Stillwater, he was overshadowed by Rodriguez while playing on a defense that never quite lived up to the team’s explosive offense. However, the 2021 season saw the Cowboys defense take a massive step forward on defense, and it coincided with Harper’s ascension to a starting role.

Still, Harper was overlooked by many and didn’t even receive an invite to the combine. It didn’t matter to Harper, who showed off his freaky athleticism at the Oklahoma State pro day.

Devin Harper Relative Athletic Score, courtesy of Kent Lee Platte

Harper’s weaknesses begin and end with his ability to play as a reliable three-down linebacker at the next level, which is a way of saying he’s likely projecting to a special teams role early on. Still, Harper has some elite athleticism, which has been a common theme for the Cowboys’ Day 3 picks this year.

It’s interesting that Dallas double dipped at the linebacker position, especially so soon after taking Damone Clark. But with Clark expected to sit out the 2022 season after spinal fusion surgery, there was still a need for linebacker depth that can provide special teams contributions this season and beyond. Harper fits that bill, with his great speed and agility as well as his solid tackling skills. If the Cowboys envision Clark as a future starter once he recovers from surgery, they likely envision Harper operating as a core special teamer.

This late in the draft, that’s more or less what teams are looking for. Dallas honed in on Harper early on, too, making him one of their top 30 pre-draft visits. Now, they’ve added him to the team and have to be hoping he can make solid contributions to John Fassel’s unit sooner rather than later.

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