clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dallas Cowboys believe Mazi Smith is a ‘disruptive force’

Smith says going to Dallas is a “perfect storm”.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys selected former Michigan defensive lineman Mazi Smith with the No. 26 in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told the media Dallas has changed how they evaluate prospects with a skill set like Smith’s.

“A key player with that much lead, base, that much strength, that much disruption as opposed to how many sacks he gets. That kind of thinking, you wouldn’t have seen that from us ten years ago, nine years ago,” Jones said.

Smith was known as a rushing lane clogger but didn’t have much success getting to the quarterback or making tackles in the backfield. In fact, Smith only had six tackles for loss and half a sack in three seasons at Michigan.

Smith will be in an NFC East division with running backs such as Saquon Barkley, D’Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, and Brian Robinson Jr. The Philadelphia Eagles were the best rushing team in football last season, and the Cowboys will be looking to dethrone Philly as division champs. The presence of Smith may help Dallas put their best foot forward when they square off against the rival Eagles.

“When you look at Mazi and the way teams run the football now – and the way things have changed when you look at our division – a guy that can stop that and add that value to our defense, he can be a disruptive force,” VP of player personnel Will McClay said.

The Cowboys believe that Smith can ultimately become an asset as a pass-rusher along with his already stout run-stopping prowess.

“People want to pigeonhole him as a nose tackle,” Executive VP Stephen Jones said. “That would be the only thing people can say when you take a nose tackle in the first round, but we believe there’s more to him than just the nose. That’s what he was asked to do at Michigan and he played his technique amazingly, but rarely was he going straight uphill and pushing upfield vertically on the snap. Most of the time he was playing the read on the run. “When we did see it, we really liked it. He can get an edge and be disruptive.”

Smith will be working on his pass-rush and is excited about the fit. According to Smith, Dallas is where he wanted to land.

“This is a perfect storm for me,” Smith said. “I’ve got guys that I can trust to lead, and that’s why you really wanna get around dawgs like that. They don’t have to tell you because they’re gonna show you how to do it. And you’re gonna match their energy. That’s why you draft players like me.”