2023 NFL Draft Grades: Dallas Cowboys
What draft grades have the media given to the Dallas Cowboys? What are they saying about the Cowboys' 2023 draft haul?
NFL.com - Grade: B+
Dallas sent fifth-round picks to Houston for Brandin Cooks (161st) and Indianapolis for cornerback Stephon Gilmore (176th). They chose Fehoko as a hustling edge rusher who has the bulk to play inside in sub packages. Richards is a great pick for a Cowboys team needing depth at tackle. They gave up a 2024 fifth-round pick to select the long, athletic Scott, whom I thought might go earlier. Vaughn joins his father -- a Cowboys scout -- in Dallas. He'll provide depth and open-field quickness.
ESPN - Grade: B
In Round 1, however, the Cowboys went a different direction, and I have no qualms about it. Mazi Smith (26) is the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in this class, a 323-pounder who will instantly improve their run defense. Their D-line too often last season was blown up at the line of scrimmage, so adding an anchor like Smith will help the entire front seven. If you look at the other NFC East teams, Dallas needed to beef up to stop the run.
I would have taken other tight ends over Luke Schoonmaker (58), but he does have intriguing traits. Tucker Kraft and Brenton Strange were available and higher on my board. Schoonmaker will turn 25 as a rookie, so the question is about how much more room he has to develop. DeMarvion Overshown (90) is one of analyst Louis Riddick's favorites in this class; he can be impressive as a blitzer.
Edge rusher Viliami Fehoko (129) had 23 sacks over the past three seasons; I highlighted him as a potential sleeper in December. Running back Deuce Vaughn (212) is a great player in a 5-foot-5 package. I'd love to see him succeed in Dallas, where his dad is a scout.
There's not much flash in this class, which is not usually how team owner Jerry Jones does things, but I can't knock many of these selections. Dallas did well.
SI - Grade: C
PFF - Grade: C+
Day 2: Schoonmaker is an in-line tight end, so the fit is obvious here for the Cowboys, but it's just that it's a bit of a reach at 58th overall. He averaged 2.15 yards per route run in 2022 but caught just 28.6% of the contested targets he saw. There's some projection here, but he does have the athletic profile where the reach could work out for the Cowboys.
Overshown is an explosive off-ball linebacker who grew into the player many had expected him to become in 2022. The 6-foot-3, 229-pound Longhorn boosted his run-defense grade by more than 40 points from 2021 to 2022. That kind of improvement should be encouraging for Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys.
Day 3: Fehoko makes a lot of sense in the fourth round as a player who offers the versatility to play on the edge and kick inside in certain situations. He dominated at San Jose State in 2022, winning 21.5% of his pass-rushing attempts and registering a defensive stop on 10.9% of his snaps in run defense.
Richards struggled as a run blocker in 2022, producing sub-60.0 PFF run-blocking grades on both zone and gap plays. If there's a silver lining to his play, though, he had a 75.5 PFF pass-blocking grade and allowed 20 total pressures from 667 pass-blocking snaps.
Scott earned a 70.9 coverage grade in 2022 and has good size at 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds. At his size, his 40-inch vertical leap and 11-foot-1 broad jump are above the 90th percentile.
Brooks has good hands, with only two drops in 2022, but doesn't bring a ton of big play ability with a 4.69-second 40-yard dash.
Fox Sports - Grade: B-
Tight end Luke Schoonmaker has more potential than he's getting credit for, and running back Deuce Vaughn is a fun addition late on Day 3. To be fair to the Cowboys, an unsexy draft can still be a great draft, so long as they're right about their projections. It's no use getting guys on base if you don't drive any runs home.
USA Today - Grade: C-
The Ringer - Grade: C-
Sporting News - Grade: C
Touchdown Wire - Grade: B
But the steal and the story of this class has to be Deuce Vaughan, who has a history with the Cowboys franchise.
Here's the emotional reaction in the Cowboys' war room when the team used the 212th overall pick in the sixth round on Kansas St. RB Deuce Vaughn, son of Cowboys' assistant director of college scouting, Chris Vaughn. pic.twitter.com/wC5dWw7IJp— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 29, 2023
The Cowboys don't generally get the credit they deserve for their quality drafts, but we'll sign off on this one.
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