The Cowboys had a plan going into this year's draft and, following its conclusion, feel they achieved all of their goals and then some, including an emotional father/son moment
FRISCO, Texas — The 2023 NFL Draft has officially concluded and the Dallas Cowboys walked away with a haul of talent they feel will/can instantly upgrade their roster for the 2023 season and beyond. Their work is far from done, however, as they turn their attention to undrafted free agency — where they've been arguably the best in the league, as of late — but, first, they close the book on the draft itself.
Sitting with the 26th-overall pick on Day 1, there was rampant speculation about where the Cowboys might look first but, considering the wealth of talent expected to be available in Round 2 through Round 4, there was no way to know how the first evening would unfold.
Thoughts of the Cowboys taking a tight end in the first round would be doused with ice water when they gave Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith the nod instead, an explosive defensive addition to the roster.
Here's how the remainder of the three-day event went for the Cowboys:
- Round 1, No. 26: Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan
- Round 2, No. 58: Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan
- Round 3, No. 90: DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
- Round 4, No. 129: Viliami Fehoko, EDGE, San Jose St.
- Round 5, No. 169: Asim Richards, OL, North Carolina
- Round 6: No. 178: Eric Scott, CB, Southern Miss*
- Round 6, No. 212: Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas St.
- Round 7, No. 244: Jalen Brooks, WR, South Carolina
*acquired via trade with Chiefs in exchange for 2024 fifth-round pick
So how do the Cowboys think they fared, overall?
"We're very satisfied and fired up with our draft class," said Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones. "At the end of the day, I think we accomplished [just] about everything we wanted to get done and there's no question we made our football team better."
Of course, the draft isn't truly over when it's over, and that's because the undrafted free agency spree immediately got underway in what's essentially a mad dash by all 32 teams to try and scoop up the most coveted prospects who didn't hear their name called during the draft.
It's something the Cowboys look forward to perennially, and just as much as the draft itself.
"We're still doing something that we feel is almost as important as the draft — the college free agents right now," Jones added. "From all the reports we're getting, that's going really well, too. All in all, I think we hit all the bases throughout the draft and, like I said, I think we're having a successful college free agency as we speak. It's overall a success."
The headline moment of the entire event wasn't actually a pick itself, though. It was rooted in the profound impact of the Vaughn selection, considering his father, Chris, is a well-respected and talented scout within the organization who also never once attempted to use his position with the team to steer the front office and coaching staff toward his son.
The film, production and flat-out electric ability accomplished that goal for the former Wildcat.
An emotional moment in the war room was followed by the realization of just how exceptional the value is to have Vaughn, a talent the Cowboys had as the highest-rated player still on the board when they went on the clock at 212th-overall, truly is; in what can only be described as the perfect storm of value, need and family.
As the Cowboys wrap up undrafted free agency over the next couple of days and rookies begin packing for minicamp in mid-May, everyone in the building feels great about the likelihood of having taken a back-to-back 12-5 team to another level — one they believe can be the potential rain dance for their long-standing Super Bowl drought.
For the incoming 2023 class, the real work starts now.