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10 thoughts on the Cowboys 2023 draft

It’s finally over, and we have some thoughts on the Cowboys’ recent draft haul.

Allstate Sugar Bowl - Alabama v Kansas State Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The 2023 NFL Draft is over and the Dallas Cowboys have come away with eight new draft picks. While it remains to be seen what this team got with this new draft haul, it doesn’t prevent us from having our own feelings about this group. This organization has a knack for doing good work in the draft, and it should be interesting to see what develops with these new additions. In the meantime, we’d like to offer up ten thoughts on the Cowboys' most recent draft.

1. Power in the middle

It’s hard to land a star when you are picking 26th in the round, but the Cowboys believe they did just that with Mazi Smith. Claimed to be 13th or 14th on their board, the Cowboys used their top draft resource to address one of their most pressing needs. Smith is a powerful run-stopper who as he puts it, “when I get my hands on someone, they go backwards.” Whether you are thrilled about the pick or not, you have to feel good about this team addressing one of its biggest bugaboos in recent years. We are all tired of being pushed around in the trenches by the 49ers in the playoffs and the Cowboys took a big step in remedying that.

2. Schultzy is back!

The front office repeatedly claimed that they believed this draft class featured a deep tight end group and that was validated when they used their second-round pick on Michigan’s Luke Schoonmaker. While this may have seemed like a reach, it’s hard not to like the player itself. Schoonmaker is a very efficient chain mover who was one of the best blocking tight ends available. The Cowboys lost Schultz in free agency this offseason, but are looking to replace a seasoned veteran by using a second-round pick, and that’s not a bad idea. Additionally, Schoony offers athleticism and a much greater catch radius so the floor on this safety net tight end should be higher.

3. Hybrid defense galore

Everyone expected an offense-rich draft for the Cowboys which is why people were surprised when three of their first four picks were on defense. In rounds three and four, the team selected a couple of tweener defenders. First, they picked an undersized linebacker in DeMarvion Overshown, who played safety his first two seasons at Texas. It’s almost as if they love the Jayron Kearse role so much that they are making plans to have his replacement ready after his contract expires next year.

The team also selected San Jose State’s Viliami Fehoko. Despite being more suited for a 3-4 defensive end role, Fehoko is so fun to watch and he was on our radar when we talked about position versatility last week.

Fehoko is a good football player who makes plays. He’s a relentless fighter who attacks aggressively with his hands and has happy feet to continue pushing forward. He plays with a purpose and that purpose puts him in the backfield quite frequently. He’s a 3-4 defensive end, so he doesn’t really fit with Dan Quinn’s base 4-3 defense, but Q likes to mix it up with an assortment of arrangements.

On the BTB live draft stream, we talked about Fehoko being more suited for a possible 3-tech defensive end in Dallas and we are already hearing rumblings about that. This guy lived in the backfield and just adds to the strength the Cowboys are forming along the defensive line.

4. Two Fehokos

Over the years, you could lose track in a hurry if you started counting how my Smiths were on the Cowboys roster, but that’s understandable. Smith is a common name. What is not so common is Fehoko and the Cowboys now have two of them with Simi and the newly drafted Viliami (or Junior as his called). While they are not related, Junior is in fact related to Tampa’s stud nose tackle Vita Vea.

However, speaking of being related...

5. A family affair

You won’t find a better draft moment than what occurred Saturday when Cowboys assistant director of college scouting, Chris Vaughn, made that special phone call to his son to let him know he will be coming to work with his pop. If you missed it, here’s your chance to share in the emotion. It’s great stuff.

6. The Deuce is loose in Dallas!

Besides being a heart-warming moment, the Cowboys also got themselves a firecracker of a player. At 5’5” he’s as small as they come, but when he gets in space, good things happen. He’s been doing a lot of damage as both a rusher and receiver against some of the best competition in college football, so it would be naive to just think all that goodness stops there. He has super quick feet to skip over low tackles and a low presentation to avoid the high ones. Deuce is going to be a fun player to watch in Dallas as he brings some extra explosiveness to the Cowboys' running game.

7. Offensive line potpourri

In true Cowboys fashion, they have taken another college left tackle with guard flexibility. North Carolina’s Asim Richards is a long-armed tackle who gets to his spots quickly, but he didn’t start playing tackle until his senior year in high school, so there is a lot of untapped potential with this one. Richards is a development project and you can just add him to the Cowboys' long list of offensive line reserves that feature Matt Farniok, Matt Waletzko, and Josh Ball. Who emerges from this list is anyone’s guess, but the team has had success turning those raw traits into a starter (see Terence Steele).

8. A wingspan and a prayer

The Cowboys just can’t resist going after long-armed defensive backs. Whether it’s Israel Mukuamu or Nahshon Wright, the Cowboys love guys with a long wingspan. In 2021, the Cowboys surprised everyone by selecting Oregon State corner Nashon Wright in the third round as he wasn’t anywhere to be found on your typical draft sheet. After two years in the league, things haven’t worked out according to plan for Wright, and the team has once again taken a flying on another deep-sleeper, long-armed corner in Southern Miss’ Eric Scott Jr. The Cowboys loved this guy so much that they traded away a future draft pick to get him. All we can say is we’ll keep our fingers crossed that this one works out better this time around.

9. Hellbent on having a wide receiver named Jalen

Speaking of wasted third-round picks, the Cowboys selected South Alabama’s Jalen Tolbert last year only to see him catch two passes for a total of 12 yards. Most were expecting the Cowboys to go after a wide receiver early in the draft, but it never worked out that way, so instead they used their final draft resource to pick South Carolina’s Jalen Brooks. And if that wasn’t enough Jalens, the team also signed Fresno State wide receiver Jalen Moreno-Cropper. Eventually, one of these Jalen wideouts gotta hit, right?

10. Try, Eagles try

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention what went down with Philadelphia over the weekend. Obviously, it’s early and we can’t be handing out any awards in April, but it sure feels like the Eagles orchestrated yet another amazing draft. Not only did they get “draft steals” by plucking every sliding Georgia player in this draft, but they also acquired a talented running back by trading with the Detroit Lions to get D’Andre Swift (also a former Bulldog). The former Lions running back only has one year left on his rookie contract, so this could be just a one-year rental, but this is a nice way to make up for the recently departed Miles Sanders.

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