The Dallas Cowboys select Mazi Smith with the 26th pick. Grade: B+

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

The Cowboys had a real need for an inside blocker with penetrating potential in the middle of Dan Quinn’s defense, and Smith certainly fits that bill. Smith is more than just a big guy who soaks up blockers so others can shine: At his best, he can destroy the best offensive lines himself, and he brings to mind Dontari Poe as a fast, agile big man who should beef up everything the Cowboys want to do with their pass rush and add a lot against the run. Smith can do good stunts, too, and the Cowboys do a lot of that with Quinn. His new DC should also be able to bring a little more juice to Smith’s game.

Height: 6′ 2¾” (35th percentile) Weight: 323 (87)
40-yard dash: N/A
10 Yard Split: N/A
Bench press: 34 reps (88)
Vertical jump: N/A
Long jump: N/A
3 Cone Drill: N/A
20 Yard Shuttle: N/A

Wingspan: N/A
Arm Length: 33¾” (70°)
Hand Size: 9¾” (37°)

Biography: A four-star recruit out of East Kentwood High School in Kentwood, Michigan, Smith chose to stay close to home with the Wolverines, made an impact on the scouting team as a freshman and sophomore, and began to make a serious impact as a starter. . in 2021. Over four seasons with Michigan, Smith totaled two sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 33 quarterback runs, 70 tackles, 55 stops, and one forced fumble. He had 834 snaps in B spaces, 346 in A spaces, 46 on tackles and two off tackles.

Statistics to know: Five of Smith’s 25 pressures last season came from the rim, or inside shoulder of the offensive tackle, which is pretty interesting for a guy his size.

Strengths: Not that you want to push Smith on the edge all the time with his size, but the way he’s able to handle some really good offensive tackles from the outside should make his NFL defensive coaches have evil sketchy thoughts.

Back inside, where we can see Smith using sliding moves to dodge blockers, along with a nasty snatch and grab, showing off his estimable upper-body strength.

As a run defender, Smith can clear blockers with those strong hands (if he gets those hands on you, your replay is done), but I’m a little more intrigued with his movement abilities on his size to move area opponents. short. speed. He is more than just a dirt remover.

Weaknesses: Too often, especially in power situations, Smith is late to center, and then, you see how quickly even a massive athletic monster can lose all of his leverage advantage. Someone with his athletic profile shouldn’t get carried away like this.

There’s an occasional lack of urgency to Smith’s game that will wash him out even against individual blockers. Obviously, he’s going to have to increase that if he wants to take full advantage of his great tools.

Conclusion: If you were to compile a reel of Smith’s best plays from the 2022 season, and there are enough of them to take a while, you might wonder why he isn’t being talked about as a potential first-round pick. So, you see the things that need work, and the flurries of plays where the required urgency just isn’t there, and then you know. Smith has all the attributes to be a great disruptor and run defender from multiple spaces, making him an ideal prototype for today’s NFL. He just would like to see the juice level a little higher at times.

NFL Comparison: Dontari Poe. Like Smith, Poe was an athletic marvel whose best work showcased every bit of that physical prowess, and whose lesser snaps left you wondering what could have been. In his prime, when he made the Pro Bowl in 2013 and 2014 for the Chiefs (who took him 11th overall in the 2012 draft based on those traits), Poe packed it all into one fearsome package. But there’s an element of cautionary tale in Smith’s tape that some NFL teams are likely to downplay or ignore, based on what they think they can train him to be…and maybe they’re right!


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