3 Cowboys Who Need to Be Benched in the Playoffs

If the Dallas Cowboys want to make a run in the playoffs, they might want to bench these players,

Dec 4, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; \h12\ and offensive tackle Terence Steele (78) celebrate a
Dec 4, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; \h12\ and offensive tackle Terence Steele (78) celebrate a / Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Mazi Smith, DT

Dallas had a porous run defense a year ago so they made a move at the trade deadline to bring in nose tackle Johnathan Hankins who was with the Las Vegas Raiders. The 320-pounder had just 10 tackles in five games but his presence was easy to see. When he was out there, the opposing team couldn't bully the D-line in the ground game.

Hankins continued to play well in 2023 for the Cowboys and had 27 tackles and three sacks in 14 games. His presence was again on full display and for those who needed a reminder of what he means to this defense, there was a three-game stretch where he was out due to an ankle injury.

First-round pick Mazi Smith played in his place and had just three tackles during that span as the Dallas defense struggled to stop the run. He did get credited with a sack on Josh Allen but that deserved an assist from the ref who blew the whistle — because Allen was about to escape. In all Smith had just 13 tackles while earning an awful 34.9 grade in run defense by PFF.

Smith, who is 6-foot-3 and 337 pounds, still has a bright future. He just has to learn to win with technique rather than pure power and athleticism — which was enough at Michigan. Having said that, he shouldn't be relied upon during the playoffs unless it's absolutely necessary.