Cowboys' 6 Biggest Priorities After 2024 Minicamp

As the Dallas Cowboys prepare for training camp, these 6 priorities should be their primary focus
Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott
Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott / Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Get Mazi Smith in pads

Jumping from Mike Zimmer to Mike Zimmer's No. 1 goal in training camp — get Mazi Smith where he belongs.

As much praise as Dan Quinn deserves for his work as the defensive coordinator, he deserves all the criticism in the world for his handling of Mazi Smith in 2023. Smith entered the NFL Draft as an intriguing prospect since he was a 337-pound nose tackle with plenty of athleticism.

It might have still been a reach for Dallas when they took him in Round 1 but the move made a lot of sense. The Cowboys had been awful against the run for years and adding a gap-stuffing monster such as Smith addressed that need. And while nose tackles in Round 1 aren't the norm, the fact that he had more athletic ability than most allowed them to have confidence in the decision.

The problem is that Quinn decided to have Smith drop weight and play the 3-tech. That meant Smith would join a position that already had too many players (none of which offered a true pass-rushing threat), keeping him off the field. It also took away a lot of his strength and unsurprisingly led to a wasted rookie campaign.

With Smith heading into year two, Zimmer wants him back at the 1-tech. The only problem now is that all their eggs are in the Smith basket. Dallas didn't re-sign Johnathan Hankins meaning Smith and rookie seventh-round pick Justin Rogers are the only true options. In order to feel good about this, they have to get Smith in pads and see how he holds up as a nose tackle in the NFL.

There's time to make a move if he can't handle the job just yet, but they have to get that answer as soon as possible.