Cowboys Draft Grades for every 2023 draft pick: Luke Schoonmaker a sleeper

Mazi Smith, Cowboys Draft Grades, 2023 NFL Draft

Mazi Smith, Dallas Cowboys. (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t approach the 2023 NFL Draft like many fans expected, but did they still come out well? Grades for every 2023 draft pick. 

Coming into the 2023 NFL Draft, as is often the case, Dallas Cowboys fans were invigorated by the possibility of what the team could make happen. Maybe it was a splash move for Bijan Robinson. Perhaps it was replacing Dalton Schultz with the likes of Dalton Kincaid or Michael Mayer. Or could the franchise have gotten another wide receiver for Dak Prescott, someone like Jalin Hyatt or otherwise.

Instead, the Cowboys used their first two selections in the 2023 NFL Draft to select a nose tackle and a tight end prospect who wasn’t mentioned in the same vein as Kincaid and Mayer. Naturally, that didn’t exactly get the juices flowing for fans who were hoping for more excitement.

But exciting doesn’t always equal good and boring doesn’t always equal bad. So let’s hand out Cowboys draft grades for the eight picks they made in the 2023 NFL Draft to see if they came out well, even if it wasn’t the class fans were dreaming of coming into the weekend.

Cowboys Draft Grades: Rating every pick in the 2023 NFL Draft


Cowboys Draft Grades for Mazi Smith: A

The negative reactions to the Mazi Smith pick for the Cowboys were, in a word, infuriating. Sure, taking a nose tackle in the first round isn’t as exciting as drafting a pass-catcher or Bijan Robinson or whatever people wanted.

At the same time, though, Dallas has sorely lacked a true game-wrecker in the middle of the defense for years. They’ve consistently made do in that spot, most recently with veteran Johnathan Hankins coming in and playing well to help clog up the middle and stop the run, but it’s been rarer that America’s Team has had a player who has the potential to be one of the legitimately best players at that position in the league.

Smith has that type of upside, though. He’s an absolute physical marvel at 6-foot-3, 323 pounds with the way he explodes, bursts and moves as a whole for a player his size. Because of that, he’s also not just a pure nose that can’t be used elsewhere as he can also hit gaps as a 1-tech as well.

Dan Quinn is getting the anchor in the front seven that has been missing with a player who has unbelievable upside. Smith is going to start immediately and, while he might not be a stat-sheet stuffer, his impact is going to be felt on the scoreboard. A defense that has been trending up in a major way just plugged one of the biggest weaknesses, and that’s a great win in a draft class that, one the whole, lacked some quality after the top-heavy portions.

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