First look at how Cowboys DT Mazi Smith wins vs opponents

With the 26th pick of the 2023 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected nose tackle Mazi Smith from the University of Michigan.  Smith, a 21-year old who measured in at 6-foot-3 and weighed in at 323 pounds is expected to immediately compete for snaps in the interior defensive line.  He should help bolster the Cowboys interior pass rush and clog up running lanes for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

Smith’s run-stop win rate in 2022 was 11.6%, which ranked second among all draft eligible defensive tackles in this class. He lined up in the B-gap for 400 snaps and 185 snaps in the A-gap. Smith shows the athleticism to line up over the center as a 0-tech or 1-tech and command double teams with his impressive strength.

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Smith in action

Smith is a weight room marvel and it shows on film as well. He was frequently asked to two-gap in Michigan’s system and take on double teams and had success.

As seen above, he can disrupt offensive lineman and stay in phase to make tackles in the running game.

Smith’s quick first step can overwhelm offensive lineman as he collapses the pocket. This can create holding penalties or force hurried throws by a quarterback which bodes well with the Cowboys opportunistic secondary.

On this play against Penn State, Smith shows off his power as he quickly disengages with the offensive guard to make a tackle for a loss.

Smith showcases the ability to disengage offensive lineman while keeping an arm free to to engulf the running back for a loss of yards.

Smith working against TCU left guard Steve Avila who is expected to be one of the first interior offensive lineman on the board. Uses his leverage to get Avila off-balance and sheds to make a stop.

On this play against TCU, Smith fights through a double team by Steve Avila and the left tackle and strips the ball to come away with a fumble recovery in plus territory for Michigan.


Overall, Smith displays top-end athleticism for his size and shows the ability to fight off double teams and impact the run game. He needs development as a pass rusher but is able to penetrate inside freeing up edge rushers.

It’s safe to say Micah Parsons approves of this pick.


Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire