clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL draft grade: Cowboys first-round grade after selecting DT Mazi Smith 26th overall

DT Mazi Smith is your newest Dallas Cowboys.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Texas Christian at Michigan Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys decided to stand pat in the first-round of the 2023 NFL Draft as they watched things play out in front of them with the first 25 picks. In so doing, they saw a lot of talented players get selected ahead of them, including the tight end they may have coveted in Dalton Kincaid, who the Buffalo Bills traded up to take with the 25th overall pick. So what did they do? They go completely off script and drafted a position they haven’t taken in the first round in 30+ years.

With the 26th pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys selected Mazi Smith, defensive tackle, Michigan.

Dane Brugler’s thoughts on Mazi Smith:

Smith plays with extraordinary power to welcome double teams or dismantle single blockers with his patient eyes and torqued hands. His football instincts are well developed to feel blocking pressures and track the football, however, he needs to be a more controlled finisher as a tackler. Smith might never light up the stat sheet with backfield production, but he will be an above-average NFL run defender and flashes pass rush potential with his natural leverage, body quickness and remarkable power. He fits multiple fronts, but he is ideally suited as a shade in the middle of the line, similar in ways to a bigger Brandon Mebane.

26. Dallas Cowboys: B-

Mazi Smith, no doubt, has the ability to develop into a starting-caliber defensive tackle in the not-too-distant future, but it’s hard to give a higher grade for the selection due to the positional value and the fact there were higher-rated players still on the board who may have made a more immediate impact.

Having said that though, Smith’s addition to the Cowboys defensive line does help with a problem area on defense. He should immediately compete with Jonathan Hankins to be Dallas’ starting nose tackle from Day 1 as a rookie. However, the way Dan Quinn rotates his defensive front throughout the season pretty much makes that a moot point.

Overall, this is a really talented player with a pretty high ceiling if he can continue develop his game at the next level. It may have been a little bit of a reach for the Cowboys to select him 26 overall considering he was Dane Brugler’s 39th ranked player, but he should be able to immediately help improve their run defense as well as help is teammates around him in 2024 and beyond.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys