While under-the-radar early round picks and little-known late-rounders can always surprise, the Dallas Cowboys did not get many oohs and aahs when their NFL Draft choices were announced.
The Cowboys have long been known for their offensive line and they went that direction this year with their 24th pick, choosing tackle Tyler Smith from Tulsa. The ‘Boys hadn’t picked an offensive lineman this late in the first round since they chose center Travis Frederick out of Wisconsin at No. 31 in 2013. Frederick worked out well, so don’t discount Smith, although he’s unlikely to make an immediate impact unless veteran Pro Bowler Tyron Smith gets hurt.
Tyler Smith is 6 feet 5 and weighs 324 pounds. His arms are 34 inches. His 40-yard dash at the NFL combine was 5.02 seconds and his vertical jump was 27.5 inches. NFL.com says his primary strength is that he’s “big, wide and nasty.” His biggest weakness is his “overall play is raw and undisciplined.”
The last time the Cowboys took an offensive tackle in the first round, it was Tyron Smith in 2011 with the 9th pick. Tyron Smith has been to the Pro Bowl eight times.
Third-round pick Jalen Tolbert seems most ready to crack the lineup as a third receiving option. Heading into the draft, it was thought that the Cowboys needed a strong draft to keep pace in the NFC. They might not have done enough. The Rams, Packers and 49ers still have better odds to win the conference.
Cowboys History With Offensive Tackles in First Round
Who the Cowboys Picked in the 2022 NFL Draft
- Round 1 (24th overall): Tyler Smith (Tulsa OT)
- Round 2 (56th overall): Sam Williams (Ole Miss DE)
- Round 3 (88th overall): Jalen Tolbert (South Alabama WR)
- Round 4 (129th overall): Jake Ferguson (Wisconsin TE)
- Round 5 (155th overall): Matt Waletzko (North Dakota OT)
- Round 5 (167th overall): DaRon Bland (Fresno State CB)
- Round 5 (176th overall): Damone Clark (LSU LB)
- Round 5 (178th overall): John Ridgeway (Arkansas DT)
- Round 6 (193rd overall): Devin Harper (Oklahoma State LB)
The Cowboys added nine players overall in the seven-round 2022 draft, including two offensive tackles and two linebackers.
In the second round last year, the Cowboys chose Kentucky cornerback Kelvin Joseph, despite concerns about off-the-field issues. Joseph was injured most of last season and in March he was at the scene of a drive-by shooting at a Dallas restaurant. Joseph claims he was unarmed at the time and he has not been charged. This year, with pick No, 56 in the second round, the Cowboys chose another player with off-the field issues, defensive end Sam Williams, from Ole Miss. The school suspended him after he was charged with sexual battery. The case was later dropped. Williams could become part of the Cowboys’ group of pass rushers.
In the third round at No. 88, the Cowboys chose Tolbert. With Amari Cooper gone, the Cowboys need another receiver and they liked Tolbert enough to consider taking him in the second round. Although South Alabama will not be confused with Alabama, Tolbert stood out against the best competition and was named the Sun Belt Conference offensive player of the year in 2021.
Dallas’ most interesting selection may have been Damone Clark, because his playing status is so uncertain — Clark had spinal fusion surgery this spring for a herniated disk. If he’s able to return to the field and play at the level he did at LSU, the Cowboys got a big talent with a fifth-round pick. But it’s a big if.
Cowboys Among Top 10 in Super Bowl LVII Odds After Draft
Still Strong Favorite to Win NFC East
Oddsmakers weren’t wowed by the Cowboys draft additions as they are +1700 to win the Super Bowl and +750 to win the NFC. The NFC East, however, is seen as weak and the Cowboys are -110 to win their division.
There is no legal Texas sports betting at this time. Legislation didn’t gain any traction in 2021 and the state legislature only meets in odd years.
So the next time it can come up again is 2023, but one group, the Texas Sports Betting Alliance, is trying to bring sports betting to the forefront next session.
The Cowboys are coming off a solid 2021, in which they finished with a 12-5 record and won the NFC East. Questionable clock management possibly cost them a win in the Wild Card Playoff Round, where they lost to the 49ers 23-17.
Last year the Cowboys crushed it with their first-round draft pick, LB Micah Parsons, who went to the Pro Bowl. This year there are unlikely to be any such success stories and the Cowboys will be very similar to the team they were last year minus free agent losses Randy Gregory (OLB) to Denver, WR Cedrick Wilson to Miami and guard La’el Collins to Cincinnati. Consistent, sure-handed WR Amari Cooper was traded to Cleveland.
The Cowboys looked to replace some of those departures through the draft, but the consensus is that most of their picks are a year away from being solid contributors.