With the newest entry in our NFC East draft review series, it’s time to analyze the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys are coming off a 12-5 season and a disappointing second-round playoff exit. Dallas has one of the better rosters in the NFL but they needed to add depth to compete with the Eagles for the division title. Their 2023 NFL Draft class was less about finding star players or high-upside types and more about adding solid prospects who can contribute early on.
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Mazi Smith, Interior Defensive Lineman, Michigan
#70 Overall Player, #7 Overall Interior Defensive Lineman
The Cowboys’ defense gave up almost 130 rushing yards a game in 2022, a problematic number when you share a division with the run-heavy Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. Draft Mazi Smith, then, was about competing in the NFC East and NFC at large. Smith is a big, powerful defensive lineman who has the size and power to dominate on early downs. He is not a dynamic athlete and he might have limited contributions early on as a pass rusher, but he is a space eater in the middle and that is exactly what Dallas has been missing on their defense.
Luke Schoonmaker, Tight End, Michigan
#107 Overall Player, #7 Overall Tight End
Luke Schoonmaker is a good fit for what the Cowboys like to do on offense. Schoonmaker is an adept and experienced blocker and has the athleticism to be a difference maker in the passing game. He lacks experience in this area, with only 54 catches across his four years in school, but it is clear he has the tools to be a receiving threat. Schoonmaker is an older prospect too, which impacts his projections in the NFL. Most likely, he will be a very solid TE2 for Dallas in an offense that loves to use tight ends.
DeMarvion Overshown, Linebacker, Texas
To once again beef up their defensive depth and run stopping ability, the Cowboys went for a thumping linebacker in DeMarvion Overshown. Overshown is a much better athlete than he showed on tape, and Dan Quinn probably wants to coach him up into a three down player. Right now, Overshown is a run stopper with lots of upside to be a three down defender.
Viliami Fehoko, Edge Defender, San Jose State
#145 Overall Player, #20 Overall Edge Defender
Viliami Fehoko is a bit of a tweener. He played a versatile role at SJSU, lining up all over the place to create favorable matchups. In the NFL, he is most likely a base end with some ability to kick inside on passing downs. Fehoko is a high effort player who will outhustle opponents. He could develop into a solid rotational player for Dallas.
Asim Richards, Offensive Lineman, North Carolina
The Cowboys are very good at finding value and talent along the offensive line and Asim Richards could be another mid-round pick turned impact starter for Dallas down the line. Richards has experience playing defensive tackle and that nasty streak shows up when he is run blocking. Despite playing tackle for most of his career at UNC, Richards’ size slots him at guard in the NFL.
Eric Scott Jr., Cornerback, New Mexico
In line with Dan Quinn’s prototypes, Eric Scott was drafted because of his size, length and speed on the perimeter. The 6’2” cornerback has all the tools a coach would want in a defensive back, but is still raw at this point. He will be solid depth for the Cowboys and gets to learn from Trevon Diggs and Stephon Gilmore
Deuce Vaughn, Running Back, Kansas State
#99 Overall Player, #8 Overall Running Back
Probably my favorite (or least favorite, I guess) of the Cowboys’ draft picks. Dallas has a ton of rushing production to replace with Ezekiel Elliott a free agent and Tony Pollard coming back from a broken leg. Enter Deuce Vaughn; all 5’5” and 179 pounds of him. Vaughn’s size definitely scared off NFL teams, explaining why he was a late round pick, but there is no arguing with the player he can be on the field. Vaughn produced almost 4,000 yards from scrimmage over the last two years at Kansas State, scoring 36 total touchdowns over that time. He is deadly quick with breakaway speed. While he might be short, his muscular build makes him hard to tackle. In the passing game, he runs sharp routes and has surprisingly good ball skills for a player of his stature. If anyone in this draft will overcome their size, it is Deuce Vaughn. The Cowboys could use his playmaking sooner than later.
Jalen Brooks, Wide Receiver, South Carolina
With the addition of Brandin Cooks, the Cowboys have a dangerous trio of receivers in CeeDee Lamb, Cooks, and Michael Gallup. However, depth is important, especially with Gallup and Cooks having checkered injury history. Jalen Brooks then was a savvy late round pick to deepen the roster. Brooks is not the fastest receiver, but he has a big, strong build and runs well after the catch. He will most likely be a special teamer, but Brooks has a chance to be a decent role player if he needs to play in a pinch.