They say hindsight is 20/20. If we could make decisions about the past based on what we know in the present, then we would obviously never make any sort of mistakes. This lesson tends to ring particularly true when we talk about the NFL Draft.
If we had known then what we know now, the Cowboys would be drafting All-Pro players left and right. Every year ESPN tends to stir up this overall idea with a look back, and they have done so recently with regards to the 2022 NFL Draft.
Maybe the Cowboys did have 20/20 vision on the first night of the draft.
ESPN re-drafted the 2022 NFL Draft and Tyler Smith went in the top 6
Raise your hand if you did not like the Tyler Smith when it happened. There are many of us. Part of what led to the consternation surrounding the drafting of Smith was that it felt so telegraphed in the day leading up to it so there was plenty of time to wallow. Still, the Cowboys took the tackle from Tulsa and we were all confident that it was a huge mistake.
It is no longer hip to say that the stud rookie offensive lineman should be eligible for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but obviously Smith deserves some serious credit. He was phenomenal for the Cowboys this past season as he floated between left tackle and left guard. There are many veterans who cannot do that so seamlessly.
On Tuesday, ESPN published a re-drafting of the first two rounds from last year’s draft and Tyler Smith was the first offensive lineman off the board to the Carolina Panthers at number six overall.
6. Carolina Panthers
Original pick: Ikem Ekwonu, OT
New pick: Tyler Smith, OT
With quarterback Brock Purdy off the board here, it would have been easy to stick with Ekwonu. He had a solid season after a slow start and has shown the promise to be a long-term solution to a longtime issue. Smith, however, graded out slightly higher for the league’s ninth-ranked run offense and allowed seven sacks after being thrown into the position right before the season. Ekwonu allowed eight. — David Newton
It obviously says a lot that Tyler Smith is being evaluated as the best offensive lineman from the class so early on in his career, and it only makes the fact that Dallas got him when they did all the more incredible. If it isn’t obvious, the Cowboys scouting department deserves an incredible amount of praise.
The margin doesn’t seem to be massive but the value certainly is. That Dallas landed Smith all the way down at 24 already looks like one of the biggest non-quarterback steals from the draft.
Speaking of number 24 though, with Smith off of the board, the Cowboys obviously could not take him in this re-draft. While offensive linemen are always valuable, the Cowboys also wound up needing some help at cornerback throughout the season and they picked it up here by way of Kaiir Elam who was initially taken by the Buffalo Bills.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Original pick: Tyler Smith, OT
New pick: Kaiir Elam, CB
That Smith went so high in the first round in this re-draft shows you the Cowboys were onto something when they took him. Linemen Zion Johnson and Kenyon Green were other options in April, but Elam is the pick here, not just because of what he did this season (two interceptions for Buffalo) but because he fits the size profile Dallas wants in corners. The Cowboys were shown to be thin at corner after losing Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown to injuries. — Todd Archer
It would not be shocking to see Dallas take a corner high in this year’s draft which would obviously not be the case if they had Elam on their roster. Injuries really took their toll there over the course of the season.
As noted this was a two-round re-draft and we have only covered the way that things went in the first. No other actual Cowboys were taken by anybody else but the team’s actual second-round pick in Sam Williams was not who Dallas took here.
You will recall that there was a huge discussion about a guard at 24 but that both Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson were off of the board when Dallas was on the clock. It turns out the former made it all the way down to 56 here which is how the Cowboys wound up with him.
56. Dallas Cowboys
Original pick: Sam Williams, OLB
New pick: Kenyon Green, G
The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Green was an option in the first round for the Cowboys last April because the team liked his position flexibility. As a rookie, he started 14 games and would project as a long-term part of the Dallas offensive line. Williams had four sacks and flashed at times, but Green is the better value here. — Todd Archer
There are likely no Cowboys fans who are displeased with the selection of Sam Williams but Todd Archer is right that the better overall value relative to everything that we know would be Kenyon Green, especially if Tyler Smith is not on this team in this hypothetical. Landing him in the second round was impossible a year ago but sometimes things work out that way.