Dallas Cowboys 2023 draft grades: The science of the grades, pick by pick

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Dallas Cowboys Pick 26: Mazi Smith, DT (Michigan)

Mazi Smith, 6-foot-3, 323 pounds, is possibly the widest human in the draft. Rated No. 1 in Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List, Smith is also one of the most athletic people on the planet. His blend of size/speed is special and while he’s a developmental player, he’s also an immediate contributor for the Dallas Cowboys.

For an excellent analysis of Smith, be sure to check out John Owning’s post-draft report over at PFF. John has been steadfast in his support of Smith since this winter so his takes are authentic and he has the receipts.

In a nutshell, Smith is a blue-chip talent found in the back-half of the round. That’s not easy to pull off so kudos to the Dallas Cowboys. He’s an instant impact player against the run but a project as a pass rusher. This is reflected in the “risk” section since much of his value comes from his ability to be an interior pressure player one day.

Smith was drafted at 26 with a consensus value at 36. If the Cowboys didn’t pick him, he would have been picked by someone else, which is reflected in the “scarcity” grade. Dominant IOL were few and far between and Smith was in a category all by himself.

Surplus value is based on what a player like him would cost on a second contract. Elite IOL values are ballooning so as long as Smith gets pass-rush production, he’ll be in the top tier of surplus value.

The need is obvious. The pathway to the Super Bowl runs through Philly and San Fran. The Dallas Cowboys have to get stout to stop their dominant run games and Smith helps in the biggest way possible.

  • Draft position value: 70
  • Positional value: 85
  • Surplus value: 90
  • Need: 90
  • Risk: 80
  • Scarcity: 95

Grade: B (85)

The two things holding this pick back is overall consensus value and the undeveloped skill set rushing the passer (risk). Nothing wrong with this pick at all.