Thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 2023 draft

Now that the draft is done, an avalanche of grades will follow.

This will lead to the inevitable backlash against instant analysis, with some trotting out the bromide that you must wait at least three years to accurately judge a draft class.

The rebuttal: not this time. What the Cowboys did with the capital they had in this draft makes it an unqualified success.

Dallas added a Pro Bowl cornerback and a perennial 1,000-yard receiver with a couple of fifth round picks. A sixth round pick yielded a veteran run stopper. No other team can make that claim.

The acquisitions of Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks must be factored into the assessment of this class. The same goes for defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who was picked up during last season for a sixth round pick in this draft.

Do that, and an otherwise pedestrian haul for a team coming off consecutive 12-5 seasons takes on a much different look.

“We do consider them,’’ executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We would have had those picks and I think they were value picks that would have really helped our football team.

“We’re very satisfied and fired up about our draft class. At the end of the day, I think we accomplished about everything we wanted to get done. There is no question we made our football team better.

“All in all, I think we hit all the bases in the draft.’’

Jerry Jones agreed with his son as he looked over a sheet that listed the players the Cowboys picked up over the last three days along with the three veterans it added earlier.

“The most important thing is, I see the makeup of this sheet is I see players who are going to be making plays for us this year,’’ the Cowboys owner said. “The immediacy.

“To me, the immediacy of the players we drafted and how they’re going to help us right now on the field is the best thing I can see about this group.’’

First round pick Mazi Smith and his freakish strength and athletic ability can make a difference in the middle of the Dallas defensive line. Second round pick Luke Schoonmaker will join tight ends Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot to make the offense more versatile and disguise whether or not the Cowboys intend or run or pass out of certain looks.

Sixth round pick Deuce Vaughn adds some exciting big-play potential in a limited role. Most of the other rookies will be asked to improve the roster’s depth as they develop and/or carve a niche on special teams.

Dallas has already gotten a taste of what Hankins provides. If you doubt his impact, look at the Cowboys run defense with and without him last season.

The biggest additions are clearly Gilmore and Cooks.

Gilmore was the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and in 2019 and has been to five Pro Bowls. He’ll play opposite of Trevon Diggs to give the Cowboys their best pair of starting corners in a long, long time.

Cooks has never been to a Pro Bowl. But he’s had six seasons of 1,000 or more yards receiving and 49 touchdowns in his career.

Quarterback Dak Prescott is impressed with what he’s seen from Cooks in their training sessions together over the last few weeks.

“My initial impressions are he’s a true pro,’’ Prescott said. “The best thing he’s going to bring is for the young guys.

“Even in the first week, not talking about routes, but literally standing in front of guys coaching them on routes, coaching them on how to win on their stems. You can tell that’s easy for him and natural and a passion. And the way he moves from drill to drill with speed. Yes speed. He’s always wondering what you’re thinking.

“You can tell immediately he played with great quarterbacks and older quarterbacks, whether it be Tom Brady or Drew Brees, just the way his approach is and the questions he has.’’

The Cowboys did a good job with the capital this draft presented. And they’re not done yet.

The hours after the draft were spent signing undrafted rookie free agents, an area this organization has excelled as assembling through the years.

“We’re still doing something we feel is almost as important as the draft, which is the college free agents,’’ Stephen Jones said. “I feel from all of the reports we’re getting that those are going real good too.’’
Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher is the editor and publisher of High Plains Pundit. Dan is also the host of the popular High Plains Pundit Podcast.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post