The Dallas Cowboys had themselves another ______________ draft.
How people fill in that blank can vary as each year the draft haul brings in a wide range of opinions. Whether we like the pick initially or not, oftentimes we tend to come around to it. That’s because this team’s player personnel/scouting department has a pretty good track record over the years of finding quality players in the draft.
You don’t have to go back very far to find the initial reviews of certain picks being heavily scrutinized (see Tyler Smith) only to find people (see Dan Rogers) singing a different tune shortly thereafter. It happens. We feel a certain way about players that don’t always align with that of the front office, but when the dust settles, those guys just know a lot more about prospects than we do.
So, for those feeling a little disappointed in this new crop of draft picks, why is it that you feel that way? From a player's perspective, the Cowboys took a lot of players many of us have talked about over the last few months. They are players many of us love and were hoping the Cowboys would go after, but now that they have been chosen, some are acting disappointed. Why is that?
This can be explained by looking at the simplified mini-board that we published last week. Trying to wrap our minds around how the Cowboys think is a science we try to master, and it’s not too surprising that all of the Cowboys' first four draft picks are on our mini-board. However, what is surprising is what round we had them going in.
Our projected rounds follow consensus rankings for the most part, whereas the Cowboys valued these players much higher. The reason some are feeling a little down is because this looks like the Cowboys were reaching all throughout the draft. But let me ask you something, would you really feel better if Mazi Smith made it all the way to 58? That would mean many more teams would’ve passed up on him. Instead, the Cowboys claimed he was high on their board and we also learned that the Super Bowl champs were trying to move up to get him, so in reality, the Smith pick wasn’t a reach at all. And even more satisfying is that Smith is a player that helps this team get better at a position they’ve been vulnerable at for years.
If you find yourself questioning the Mazi Smith pick just remind yourself of how sad you felt when opposing teams repeatedly overpowered us and gashed us up the middle and how helpless our run defense looked at times. pic.twitter.com/z2G11HN7du— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) April 30, 2023
You can apply this same logic to every pick the Cowboys made. Instead of being upset that they didn’t get a good value from a pick that other teams were passing up, be happy that the team got the guy they wanted before he was snatched up.
Luke Schoonmaker is a great example. Consensus rankings had him projected as a third, maybe fourth-round pick, but here you have the Cowboys selecting him in round two. Some say a run on tight ends caused the team to panic and forced them to take one of the last good ones before they were washed out. But an argument can be made that the Cowboys just love this player. By now, you’ve probably seen his impressive relative athletic score compared to Dalton Schultz so we should feel good about the upside he offers as a receiver.
But he also brings an NFL-ready skill set to the Cowboys. His length, bend, pad level, and quickness in space all offer immediate capabilities to slide right into the tight end rotation. Securing open field blocks and sneaking into the secondary are skills that will provide immediate returns on their investment.
Even with a player like DeMarvion Overshown who offers intriguing athletic traits, but needs refinement before releasing into the wild, the Cowboys believe he can get there sooner versus later. Nobody expected a size and traits guy like DaRon Bland to be ready for NFL starting reps early in his rookie season, but he was.
The list goes on and on. The Cowboys selected interesting players, but for the most part, took them sooner than their average draft position. So what. The Cowboys have their own board and they trust that board immensely. And their board has been more right than it has been wrong, so we should all feel good about their guys and just enjoy the ride.
The icing on the cake is that the Cowboys took players who have skills to help some of their biggest deficiencies. Run defense was the blinking light so what did they do? They drafted three good run-stoppers with their first four picks of the draft. If the Cowboys' evaluations are right, these “reaches” are going to turn into one helpful crop of rookies.