The 2023 NFL Draft is over and the Dallas Cowboys came away with eight new draft picks. New talent in new positions will heat up the competition in some areas, whereas other spots may still need some attention. So, what will that mean for other players on the roster? Here are the players whose stock either rose or fell after this new crop of players.
Leighton Vander Esch & Damone Clark
The Cowboys did not address the linebacker position in the first two rounds, and when they did, they took DaMarvion Overshown who is a little bit of a development player. This means that LVE and Clark remain the meat and potatoes of the team’s linebacker group. But even more, these guys should be able to have a lot more free shots on ball carries with the addition of Mazi Smith taking on blockers in the middle. The Cowboys run defense just got better and the current linebackers will reap the benefits.
Prescott lost his most reliable safety blanket when Dalton Schultz left in free agency, but the Cowboys spent a second-round draft pick to grab the most Schultzy-like replacement. Luke Schoonmaker possesses all the route-running nuances that the seasoned Schultz brings as well as being a strong in-line blocker. Add a little juice and a larger catch radius and the team has a good shot at supplementing one of Dak’s most comfortable receiving options.
The Cowboys linebackers are not the only ones benefiting from the addition of Mazi Smith. With an improved run defense, this should open the door for more opportunities to put opposing teams in third-and-long situations. This means more chances to pin their ears back and rush the passer for Micah Parsons and the Cowboys' pass rushers. Not only will Smith set the stage for third down, but being a powerful defender who will command more attention from the offensive line will make things easier for his supporting cast as there are only so many blockers to go around.
Most everyone expected the team to select a cornerback in this draft, but the only question was when? The team held out for a while but then set their sights on Southern Mississippi corner Eric Scott Jr. and traded a 2024 fifth-round pick for the first pick of the sixth round. Scott Jr. matches the profile of the lengthy corners the Cowboys covet, which makes us wonder if that’s the end of the road for third-year corner Nahshon Wright. Eventually, they need to see results to justify holding a roster spot and there’s only room for so many lengthy developmental corners.
TO BE DETERMINED
The Cowboys didn’t address the running back until late in the sixth round, but when they did, they took the explosive Deuce Vaughn from Kansas State. On one hand, the team didn’t take a player who is automatically a fixture for the future, as Vaughn’s presence is always going to require having him paired up with a more physical runner. Yet, on the other hand, Pollard isn’t a physical runner as he himself fits more as a complementary piece to a running back tandem. With Vaughn’s shiftiness and ability as a receiver, the Cowboys essentially got themselves another offensive toy that offers comparable strengths to Pollard. How similarly the rookie compares to TP will loom large in Pollard’s overall value to the offense, and how they deal with him in the future.
The team was not able to take one of the stronger offensive tackles/guards in this draft and for a time, fans were left wondering if the Cowboys were even going to address it in this draft. They finally pulled the trigger late in the fifth round when they selected North Carolina’s Asim Richards. While Richards is a nice development project, his rawness still leaves a hole at left guard. Currently, third-year player Josh Ball is expected to be given an opportunity to compete for playing time inside. This buys Ball a little time, but if the rookie Richards comes along quickly it could result in a literally changing of the guards.
Similar to the left guard spot, the team didn’t address wide receiver until Day 3. And when they did, they picked a guy who will enter training camp fighting for a roster spot as seventh-round pick Jalen Brooks is basically a dart throw. With an underwhelming rookie season, the other Jalen receiver, Jalen Tolbert, will enter the year with a lot to prove. His roster spot might be spared due to the team not targeting a more talented receiver earlier in the draft, but he still will face some new competition this summer.