The Cowboys rookies could mean trouble for some veterans on the roster, including these three.
The Dallas Cowboys made eight selections in the 2023 NFL Draft, trading a 2024 fifth-round selection to add one pick on day three and take CB Eric Scott Jr. Just how much this eight player class is ready to help take this team past the Divisional Round of the playoffs, coming on the heels of the Cowboys trading for starting receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore, will start to be sorted out as early as rookie minicamp later this month.
This may not have been the ideal draft class for the Cowboys to make similar splashes to their early offseason moves, and for a team that relies so heavily on the draft to build a roster, Dallas rightfully looked ahead to more future needs with their day three picks.
On the latest Hidden Yardage podcast, Mark Lane and I covered which current Cowboys were possibly put on notice with any of the team’s eight picks. Here is a closer look at a few that we came up with.
DT Neville Gallimore
The 2023 season will be Neville Gallimore’s fourth on the Cowboys defensive line, but the former third-round pick has only started 14 games. Gallimore has shown flashes at the all-important 3-tech position, and in some ways could be first in line to gain from the Cowboys drafting Mazi Smith at 26th overall.
Smith’s most natural position is the run-stuffing nose tackle spot, but the Cowboys are hoping to get more out of him as a pass rusher by playing him in different stances. There will be snaps available for interior pass rushers to push the pocket alongside Smith, but Gallimore isn’t the clear cut favorite to anchor them down. The Cowboys still have Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston here, and spent another fourth-round pick on Junior Fehoko – a defensive end from San Jose State that projects as another defensive tackle with position flex in the NFL.
Throw in Wednesday’s news that Micah Parsons is now a full-time defensive end, coupled with DeMarcus Lawrence at left end, and any pass rusher vying for real playing time in Dan Quinn’s defense should be looking to the interior, stacking up the competition for Gallimore in a crucial year.
LB Jabril Cox
The Cowboys having veteran Leighton Vander Esch back in the fold at linebacker is even more important now, with Micah Parsons not expecting to see as many (or any) snaps here. Parsons’ value as a pass rusher is just too high to not make this move, but the way Quinn’s scheme has gotten the most out of hybrid linebackers should make the Cowboys feel good about what they have here. Drafting DeMarvion Overshown in the third round immediately feels like less of a pick for down the road, and though the Texas product has plenty of room to grow, there’s a path for him to see the field right away now.
Overshown can be used in a similar mold to box players Jayron Kearse and Donovan Wilson, further adding to the depth stacked against veteran Jabril Cox to see more snaps. Cox played his most defensive snaps in a forgettable Week 17 win at the Titans, but was a key player on special teams for John Fassel. While late round picks like Eric Scott Jr. and Dallas’ UDFA class will push for these special teams snaps too, there is still a role for Cox in this defense, just not at the volume he was once on the path to earning.
OT Matt Waletzko
The Cowboys still have a lot to figure out with their offensive line this offseason, with initial reports that last year’s draft picks Josh Ball and Matt Waletzko are being considered at left guard. Terence Steele might also get work here, and considering Tyler Smith’s best position might be at guard too, the burning question is which of these players will actually wind up at tackle.
Position flex up front is still of high value for the Cowboys, so having tackle depth that can swing to guard is important when considering planning for Tyron Smith or any other starter missing time. Asim Richards is the Cowboys latest draft pick with this same flexibility, a college tackle out of North Carolina that has all the traits to be their latest converted LT to LG.
Matt Waletzko effectively took a medical redshirt year in 2022, and in the cruel game that is roster churning in the NFL, now finds a long list of names to compete with at any position. Likely the biggest project of this group at the moment too, Waletzko is a former fifth-round pick that faces more competition than just the team’s latest fifth-round pick in Richards to earn a roster spot.