Like with any draft class, it’s hard to know just how well the Dallas Cowboys did this year. With eight total picks, the team has a nice chance to bolster this roster, but will they be successful? To get a feel for what this new crop of rookies has to offer, we’ve decided to examine both sides of the range of outcomes to see what each player could bring this Cowboys team.
The Cowboys surprised everyone by taking a defensive tackle in the first round for the first time since 1991 in hopes of adding some power along the interior defensive line.
Best-case scenario: Immediate starter, eventual Pro Bowler
If the scouting department is right about Smith, he’s going to be a force inside for years to come. A run-stopping specialist, Smith will also get a chance to attack the quarterback as Dan Quinn develops his game. While he isn’t likely to decorate the stat book, he has the potential to open the floodgates for others around him to feast.
Worst-case scenario: Rotational player
While the investment in a defensive tackle is high this time, the Cowboys thought they might’ve got something in Trysten Hill a few years ago, but learned quickly that things don’t always go as planned. With Johnathan Hankins on the roster, Smith will have some competition for the nose, and if he doesn’t progress quickly enough, he’ll have to take a backseat to the veteran.
With a deep tight end class, we all suspected the Cowboys would come away with a good one as they try to replace the recently departed Dalton Schultz, and the Michigan star was their guy.
Best-case scenario: Schultz doppleganger
The skills of Schoonmaker make him a high-upside player. He has good athleticism and enters the NFL with better pass-catching acumen than Schultz did coming out of Stanford. His blocking fundamentals should help him see the field sooner versus later and he has the potential of making this a very seamless transition.
Worst-case scenario: A year-one Sean McKeon role
There is a learning curve with tight ends and very few hit the ground running. How quickly he learns the intricacies of the position will dictate how large of a role he has. With two other young tight ends already having a year under their belt, a slow start could push him behind Jake Ferguson and even Peyton Hendershot for reps, at least early in his career. If this happens, his blocking ability will still get him on the field in 13 personnel situations.
The war room was really excited about landing the Texas linebacker in the third round as his skill set offers a lot of flexibility including a large role on special teams.
Best-case scenario: LB3 and special teams ace
This longhorn is loaded with athletic traits. He’s an explosive player that fires away once he gets locked on his target. He shows good agility and can weave his way through traffic. And being a former safety, he can hold his own in coverage. The linebacker group might as well have a help wanted sign on the window because this team has no depth, so the rookie should get his fair share of chances. Leighton Vander Esch and second-year player Damone Clark are the lead dogs, but if Overshown can put his traits to use, he could work himself into the mix.
Worst-case scenario: Jabril Cox-like development project
Overshown is a natural athlete, but there are things that need to be worked out before he can be a real threat. His processing can be a little slow and he doesn’t attack his blockers with leverage resulting in losses due to his lack of play strength. If he is unable to make the mental jump, his role on defense could be drastically reduced, at least early on.
The Cowboys' defensive line gets even better with the addition of this aggressive playmaker from San Jose State.
Best-case scenario: Key rotational player
Good players get reps, and that’s what could be in store for Junior Fehoko. Thanks to the never-ending creativity of Dan Quinn, his defense will attack in many different ways and that means there’s a role for a relentless fighter who lives in the backfield of the opposing team. Fehoko is a wild card player, but the upside is a good football player who could be a star in this league.
Worst-case scenario: Gets lost in the depth of the defensive line
Fehoko is a tweener with no definitive position on the roster. He was a defensive end in college, but he’s not attacking from the edge in Dallas. If he bulks up, he could transition into a 3-tech defensive tackle, but this change could take time. With some athletic limitations and no clear home on this defense, he could take on a Chauncey Golston-type role where the team experiments where to play him.
The Cowboys waited until the fifth round before they addressed the offensive line, but when they finally pulled the trigger, they went after North Carolina’s Asim Richards.
Best-case scenario: Starting left guard
It’s typical for the Cowboys to take a college offensive tackle and transition him to guard. Zack Martin, La’el Collins, and even Tyler Smith are just some examples where they’ve done that. Richards will be the next player to test out with a move inside and he’s already demonstrated some nice run-blocking techniques with good second-level movement and sealing the edge. With no clear frontrunner for the LG spot, Richards should get plenty of opportunities to win the job.
Worst-case scenario: Development swing tackle
Even though Richards is familiar with the position, only one of his 38 college games has come at left guard. His strengths and experience show that this guy is a tackle. He’s also a raw player that has a laundry list of things to work on as he didn’t even play offensive line until his last year of high school. If he’s slow to develop, he could get lost in the long list of other tackles fighting to get on the depth chart.
ERIC SCOTT JR.
The Cowboys loved this prospect so much that they traded away a 2024 fifth-round pick for the first pick of the sixth round to take him.
Best-case scenario: Late-season role player, starting outside corner in 2024
We’ve seen the extremes of both sides when it comes to corners the Cowboys have gone after. Both Anthony Brown and DaRon Bland were taken outside the first 150 players in the draft, and both had great rookie seasons. Bland was a traits guy that the coaching staff was locked in on last year and that turned out to be a fantastic pick. If lightning strikes twice, they could see the rookie steal some reps late in the season when depth is needed and possibly work into a starting role next season.
Worst-case scenario: Weekly inactive throughout most of the year
And just as Bland is the ceiling for a player like Scott Jr., it could just as easily go the other way. We’ve seen some other long corners who caught the fancy of the coaching staff (i.e. Nashon Wright, Reggie Robinson II), only to completely flame out. If Scott Jr. falls into this group, expect a lot of healthy scratches next season.
With Ezekiel Elliott released and Tony Pollard only under contract for one more season, the team drafted a new running back, but they waited until the sixth round.
Best-case scenario: Solid volume, Darren Sproles-type role
It’s easy to be excited about what Vaughn can bring to this offense. He’s an explosive player with four plays of 60+ yards last year and his low running style makes him tough to round up. He’s a slasher who knows how to make defenders miss and his small stature/pass-catching prowess brings out all kinds of Darren Sproles feels.
Worst-case scenario: Limited action
They say running backs are a dime a dozen, and statistics show that most of them will not flourish in the NFL. Being a small guy who isn’t a blazer (4.56 speed), Vaughn comes with uncontrollable physical limitations. All the heart in the world won’t help you pick up a power-driven blitz or extend for a slightly overthrown toss and if he struggles to make the next-level leap, then he could be pushed aside.
The Cowboys struggled to find production from their wide receivers last season who were not named CeeDee Lamb and are hoping this late-round pick can sharpen the position group.
Best-case scenario: WR4
There are two things we know about the Cowboys' wide receiver position and that is, (a) they have three good ones, and (b) we have no idea what is going on with the rest of them. The table is set for anyone, not just Brooks, and not just anyone named Jalen, but anyone to step up and fight for the WR4 spot. Brooks has good size, nice hops, and excellent hands be win contested-pass battles.
Worst-case scenario: Final roster cut
While it’s a wide-open battle to round out the WR depth chart, there are a lot of options. We mean, a lot. KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Tolbert, Semi Fehoko, Dennis Houston, Antonio Callaway... hold on, let me take a breath. Okay, I’m ready... Jalen Moreno Cropper, David Durden, Jose Barbon, John Stephens Jr., and Dontario Drummond will all fight with Brooks for a roster spot. And with Brooks being a late-round with still-developing fundamentals, he’ll have a lot to prove if he is to wear the star this season.