Role Call: Waletzko's Odds To Play Right Away?


(Editor's Note: The offseason program is in full swing, and it's no longer too early to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series continues today with offensive tackle Matt Waletzko.)

How he got here: For all the time and effort that goes into covering the draft, some names are going to slip through the cracks. That was the case for Waletzko, who became just the second FCS player drafted by the Cowboys in the last eight years when they grabbed him No. 155 overall in this year's draft. Waletzko was named first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference during his senior season, and he became just the 24th North Dakota player drafted in program history, as well as the first since 2006.

What's next: It's not common to put high expectations on a fifth-round draft pick, but the Cowboys aren't shying away from giving Waletzko a big opportunity right off the bat. This team has yet to sign a veteran swing tackle this offseason, and Cowboys officials indicated after the draft that they didn't plan on it. That leaves Waletzko and Josh Ball as the primary options behind starters Tyron Smith and Terence Steele. Through two weeks of OTAs, Waletzko is getting a lot of reps – including a few opportunities in the starting lineup. It's obvious that the Cowboys want their young tackles to step up and prove themselves worthy of playing time. If he puts together a strong training camp, Waletzko could find himself as this team's swing tackle as a rookie.

Bet you didn't know: It's always interesting to chart the way teams use the resources they require in trades. The Cowboys made nine picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, but Waletzko was selected with the fifth-round pick they received from the Cleveland Browns in the Amari Cooper trade. For better or for worse, it will be interesting to follow Waletzko's development in that context.

Quotable: "He's got prototypical tackle size. He can play either side. He plays the game nasty and physical. It's kind of the tempo that Coach wants to set and what we want from our linemen. So he has that skillset, and he has grown from that." – Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel, Will McClay

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