Mel Kiper Jr. issues surprising grade for Cowboys draft class with ‘not much flash’
In the world of draft analysis, there’s everybody who’s come along in the last generation or so, and then there’s the guy who’s been there since the mid-1980s.
Love him or hate him, Mel Kiper Jr. is still the gold standard when comes to evaluating prospects and judging their fit with NFL teams. Mock drafts and draft profiles and draft report cards can be found all over the internet these days, but when Kiper speaks, people still take what he says to heart.
Taking the temperature of Cowboys Nation after this weekend’s proceedings in Kansas City, it would be easy to trash the Dallas draft class of 2023. There were no sexy picks, there were a few slight reaches, there were plenty of higher-profile players left on the board.
But there were also needs that were addressed. Of the five most pressing areas of the roster Kiper had zeroed in on, the Cowboys filled four of them with a draft pick- tight end, running back, defensive tackle, and wide receiver. (The club will no doubt conduct a separate search for a kicker.)
And the front office has shown themselves to be awfully good at identifying talent, even if they sometimes have the names on their big board arranged in a very different order than other teams.
So fear not, Cowboys fans, Kiper says it was a good draft for Dallas.
“There’s not much flash in this class, which is not usually how team owner Jerry Jones does things,” he writes in his annual post-draft roundup for ESPN, “but I can’t knock many of these selections. Dallas did well.”
He gives the Cowboys a B as their final grade.
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30. Philadelphia Eagles – DT Mazi Smith, Michigan
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“I have no qualms about it. Mazi Smith (26) is the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in this class, a 323-pounder who will instantly improve their run defense. Their D-line too often last season was blown up at the line of scrimmage, so adding an anchor like Smith will help the entire front seven. If you look at the other NFC East teams, Dallas needed to beef up to stop the run.”
The University of Michigan football team beats Indiana, 31-10, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind., on Oct. 8, 2022.
“I would have taken other tight ends over Luke Schoonmaker (58), but he does have intriguing traits. Tucker Kraft and Brenton Strange were available and higher on my board. Schoonmaker will turn 25 as a rookie, so the question is about how much more room he has to develop.”
Texas Longhorns linebacker DeMarvion Overshown (0) takes down Baylor Bears running back Richard Reese (29) during the Texas Longhorns game against Baylor on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022.
Ut Baylor Football 02373
“DeMarvion Overshown (90) is one of analyst Louis Riddick’s favorites in this class; he can be impressive as a blitzer.”
Day 3 picks
“Edge rusher Viliami Fehoko (129) had 23 sacks over the past three seasons; I highlighted him as a potential sleeper in December. Running back Deuce Vaughn (212) is a great player in a 5-foot-5 package. I’d love to see him succeed in Dallas, where his dad is a scout.”
Kiper's recent record
Kiper has been up and down on the Cowboys over the past several drafts. He ranked the 2019 draft class- the last one under head coach Jason Garrett- in the bottom third of the league. In 2020, Kiper had them fourth-best overall. Dallas stayed in the Top 10 in 2021 per Kiper, but he graded last season’s draft haul as tied for the worst in the NFL.
In fairness, it should be pointed out that no team received lower than a B- in this year’s exercise, so the Cowboys still fell near the bottom when compared to the rest of the league.