Here’s why Mazi Smith is a poster child for Cowboys’ Draft Commandments

The draft is less than 12% complete and our annual exercise of the 10 Cowboys Draft Commandments have already been proven telling. With Mike McCarthy firmly in control of the organizations direction in a way that hasn’t been seen since Bill Parcells patrolled the facilities, there was some concern that things could be trending away from the way the team operates during draft season.

But low and behold, there was Mazi Smith hearing his name called at No. 26, shocking most onlookers. Unless of course, those onlookers had the Commandments nearby. If they did, then everything made perfect sense. Here’s all the boxes Mazi checked.

Scroll to continue with content

Commandment No. 1: "Thou shalt use your first pick on a 'best at his position in the entire draft' prospect"

If one considers Georgia’s Jalen Carter as a hybrid defensive lineman, then Smith is, by far, the highest-rated pure nose tackle in the 2023 draft. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 323 pounds, Smith is a solidly built, dude who honestly doesn’t look like he’s carrying that much mass on his frame currently. His playing weight was reported at 337 entering last season and it shouldn’t surprise if he is closer to that when camp rolls around.

Dallas has a long-standing tradition of using their first rounder on a player who sits at the top of his positional stack. Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith, Mo Claiborne, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Ezekiel Elliott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons and Tyler Smith were all of the same vein.

Commandment No. 2: "Follow the money"


The Cowboys don’t have a ton of money invested in the nose tackle role, but the idea of getting ahead of an oncoming hole rings true here.

Niether make big money, but two of the three players who get run at nose tackle are on expiring deals. Neville Gallimore played 35% of the defensive snaps last season. After having to trade for Johnathan Hankins midseason and missing him for four games after acquistion, he still played 20% of the snaps.

Adding Smith to the equation means nose tackle won’t be a major concern next offseason.

Commandment No. 3: "Thou shalt prioritize certain positions over others"


Just before 2015’s draft, we looked at the draft history of the Cowboys over the previous five years. It concluded that Dallas has a preference to draft the following positions, in order, t1) Defensive Line t1) Linebackers, t1) Cornerbacks, t4) Offensive Line, t4) Wide Receiver.

While the Cowboys rarely take a defensive tackle in the first round, they almost always take a defensive lineman and more often than not it’s early in the process. This dates back a decade and certainly hasn’t lost steam with Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator, who is uber-focused on linemen across his own career.

Commandment No. 4: "Thou shalt prioritize getting premiere athletes"

The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman drops an annual Freaks List, a ranking of the most ridiculous athletically gifted guys in college football. Smith ranked No. 1 heading into the 2022 season.


The 6-foot-3, 337-pound senior has rare power and agility. So rare, in fact, it’s hard to find the right superlative to begin with. But let’s start with this: Smith does 22 reps on the bench press, but that’s with 325 (not 225). He close-grip benched 550 pounds. He vertical-jumps 33 inches. He broad-jumped 9-4 1/2. Smith, who had 37 tackles last season, has clocked a 4.41 shuttle time, which would’ve tied the best by any defensive tackle at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and it would’ve been better than any defensive tackle weighing 310 pounds or more in the past decade. His 6.95 3-cone time would’ve been by far the fastest among defensive tackles in Indianapolis. The fastest was 7.33. Smith’s 60-yard shuttle time is 11.90.

In the below video, it shows an amended piece of equipment. The Wolverines had to get a third-party to customize this device to increase the weight to 800 pounds.



Commandment No. 6: "Thou shalt not trade away your first rounder"

Not one, but two teams called the Cowboys about moving up to No. 26.  Dallas rebuffed both of them. One of the teams was the Kansas City Chiefs, who were looking to move up so they could acquire Smith themselves. The other was the Las Vegas Raiders.

Dallas turned them down and made the selection they had identified as the best bet to help their team moving forward.

Commandment No. 7: "Thou shalt be comfortable drafting a round "hot" for players they've targeted"

Now things are really cooking. Here’s what was written a few days ago:


Mock drafts aren’t even an inexact science, they are tools that outsiders use to project how things will fall but have little relevancy once the draft actually arrives. Year after year, 10’s of thousands are produced (not just here on Cowboys Wire, though we do our share), and are rendered irrelevant by the time Pick No. 40 rolls around.

But still, there’s a general consensus to where a majority of the players will be selected that’s a mixture of evaluation and thoughts from the media based on conversations with front offices.

This was a retired commandment that is being brought back for two reasons. One, 2022 absolutely had that feel for the Cowboys and two, the 2023 draft seems like it’s going to be a wild ride.

Commandment No. 8: "Thou shalt not covet small-school players"

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports


Dallas wrecked this commandment last year which is why it tumbled down to No. 8, however order was restored on Thursday night. Picking a player who’s home games are in a stadium called The Big House pretty much ensures a prospect is used to the bright lights they will see as a member of the Cowboys.

Commandment No. 9 and 9a: "​​Thou shalt use your 30 official visits wisely..." and "Thou shalt use your Dallas Day Advantage as well"

Why yes, Mazi Smith was one of the club’s 30 national visits. The Cowboys had seven visitors we identified as being worthy of first-round selections. When they hit the clock, Smith, WR Jalin Hyatt and TE Darnell Washington were the ones who remained.

This year, Dallas Day visitors had several Day 1 picks in the Round 1 range as well. There were four of those of which Steve Avila and Drew Sanders remained available at (and after) No. 26.


Commandment No. 10: "Thou shalt use your Dallas Day Advantage as well"

Here’s how the question came during the pre-draft pressure:

“Last season your defense didn’t stop the run well enough, consistently enough, to create as many opportunities for your pass rush as you would like. How do you make the necessary jump there, this offseason? What role do you expect the draft to have in that effort?”

McCarthy’s response: “when you’re really strong in one area they’re going to come at you a different way. I think its two fold, we want to play similar too so we’re a complimentary football team and I think we can take another step, the offense playing to the defense, the defense to the offense, special teams and all that. We’ll just continue to work that. We’re going to have an opportunity to really add  to our group this weekend coming up that’s always exciting.”

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire