In a draft full of outliers, there’s probably no one bigger (literally and figuratively) than who the Dallas Cowboys selected in the first round. The newest member of America’s Team is Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith.
As Dallas was getting closer to being on the clock, many intriguing names seemed like they may be available. Tight end Dalton Kincaid, wide receivers Zay Flowers, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, and Quinton Johnston were all available after pick No. 19.
Then the run on offensive weapons happened with all four players, including receiver Jordan Addison, going five of the next six picks. The Cowboys stayed put and picked a player that will help their defense by stopping the run. All-Pro defensive end Micah Parsons even approved the selection of Smith.
Micah Parsons on the @BleacherReport live draft show with a message to Cowboys first round pick DT Mazi Smith: “I hope you’re ready to be part of the best D-line in the NFL. I’m going to help you get sacks, you’re going to help me get sacks. Let’s get this Super Bowl.” pic.twitter.com/gBT3CwUSXM— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 28, 2023
Smith’s 6’3”, 337-pound frame and rare athletic traits earned him the top spot on Bruce Feldman’s College Football freaks list before the 2022 season. Here is what Feldman had to say about Smith.
His former teammate, Aidan Hutchinson, almost was our top guy in 2021, but this year a Wolverine is the No. 1 Freak in college football. The 6-foot-3, 337-pound senior has rare power and agility. So rare, in fact, it’s hard to find the right superlative to begin with. But let’s start with this: Smith does 22 reps on the bench press, but that’s with 325 (not 225). He close-grip benched 550 pounds. He vertical-jumps 33 inches. He broad-jumped 9-4 1/2. Smith, who had 37 tackles last season, has clocked a 4.41 shuttle time, which would’ve tied the best by any defensive tackle at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and it would’ve been better than any defensive tackle weighing 310 pounds or more in the past decade. His 6.95 3-cone time would’ve been by far the fastest among defensive tackles in Indianapolis. The fastest was 7.33. Smith’s 60-yard shuttle time is 11.90.
The bottom line is big men are not supposed to move like Smith. Speaking of moving, the Cowboys entertained a trade offer from the Kansas City Chiefs that would have moved them down to pick No. 31 but ended all talks after finding out they were coming up to select Smith. Dallas stayed put and drafted their guy.
What’s next for Dallas?
So where do the Cowboys go from here in the second and third rounds of the draft? Looking inside their division, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted Georgia Bulldogs Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith with their first two selections. That could put addressing offensive line as a blinking red light for Dallas.
Steve Avila, the offensive lineman from TCU, is still available and could be there when the Cowboys pick at No. 58. Another name to watch is offensive tackle Matthew Bergeron from Syracuse. Before the draft started, Bergeron was a name ESPN’s Todd Archer tweeted as a consideration in the first round.
If the front office wanted to address offensive playmakers, they could go with tight end Sam LaPorta from Iowa or Tucker Kraft from South Dakota State. Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer will still be on the board at the start of tomorrow night, but Dallas would need to trade up many spots to get within his range.
There should be plenty of depth at wide receiver in the second and third rounds for Dallas to pick someone they like. Quarterback Dak Prescott was given a few names to watch at the position, so they may get a player he covets.
All in all, it was an exciting first round of the draft, and with six more selections to go, it could be an entirely different ball game when the Cowboys are on the clock for night two.