FRISCO, Texas — Defense has been the theme for the most part for the Cowboys in this 2023 draft, with three of the first four picks on that side of the ball.
But the Cowboys finally addressed the offensive line in the fifth round, grabbing a player that might have some coveted position flex.
Round 5, No. 169: Asim Richards, OL, North Carolina
Three things to know:
- Earned Third-Team All-ACC honors
- Started 38 games for North Carolina in three seasons
- 2023 Senior Bowl participant
Offensive line help was crucial coming into the draft for Dallas, and while there was a longer-than-expected wait until the first trench bully was taken by the Cowboys, they are able to get a versatile wide-body with ample experience playing in one of college football's top conferences.
What immediately jumps off the page is Richards' 82 ¾-inch wingspan which is one of the longest measurements in the class up front. His length has allowed him to excel at tackle during his career, but his thick build at 6-foot-4, 309 pounds most likely makes him a guard option for Dallas that the front office coveted coming into the weekend. Richards actually started one game in his career at left guard. However, a future at tackle still exists with his ability to play on his feet and seal off the edge.
There will be development here, especially with an expected need for positional versatility once he arrives, but the measurables, athleticism and experience combine to create high-upside for what Richards could do in year two-to-three. Put him in close quarters in the interior, and you have a bruiser that can simply hurt people inside.
Once Richards can get a better feel for run protection, there will be a future in Dallas to not only play meaningful snaps early in his career, but to compete for a starting job down the line. Working to his advantage will be the pro-style offense experience in multiple personnel that former North Carolina offensive coordinator Phil Longo excelled at in Chapel Hill.
Two takeaways: there is versatility and there isn't anything Dallas will ask him to do that he hasn't already done in college.