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Mazi Smith wasn’t the flashy pick many fans hoped for, but he is the pick the Cowboys needed most

After some reflection, the pick of Mazi Smith becomes a clear case of need.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 08 Michigan at Indiana

Leading up to the NFL draft, many Cowboys fans had their sights set on playmakers who could have an instant impact on the offensive side of the ball. Names such as running back Bijan Robinson, wide receivers Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zay Flowers, tight ends Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid, were continuously tossed around as potential first-round prospects for the Dallas Cowboys.

When the Cowboys came out of the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft with Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith, many fans felt let down by the selection. Picking a defensive tackle is not always the most exciting selection. He won’t be scoring touchdowns, or making big plays for the offense in 2023 like some prospects could of. However, Smith brings something to the Cowboys that they have lacked for a really long time, and that is the ability to stop the run.

The Dallas Cowboys defense has been incredible at a lot of things since Dan Quinn has taken over as defensive coordinator. The team continues to be near the top of the league in sacks and takeaways, two numbers that the team lacked under former defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. However, there has been an Achilles heel under Quinn since he has been the coordinator. The opposing team’s ability to run the football. Throughout the 2022 season, the Cowboys defense allowed 129.29 rushing yards per game.

One thing that Smith excelled at during his time at Michigan was his ability to defend the run. His 337-pound frame allows him to eat up blockers in the middle of the trenches, allowing little space for the running back to find holes to run through. He provides an ability to not just stop the run, but create pressure up the middle that will allow players such as defensive ends Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence to get easier opportunities to sack the quarterback.

While the Cowboys selecting a defensive lineman as opposed to an offensive weapon for quarterback Dak Prescott may seem underwhelming, selections like these will make a big difference for the team on the field. It also shows a difference in the decision-making process. The Dallas Cowboys have not spent a first-round pick on a defensive tackle since they drafted Russell Maryland in 1991. At minimum, this selection offers fans the satisfaction that the front office is finally willing to do things unconventional for them if it means addressing needs, and putting the team in a better position to win heading forward.

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