Dallas Cowboys 2022 NFL Draft Review

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The Dallas Cowboys 2022 NFL draft is officially over. The Cowboys used this opportunity to fill holes after several key players left in free agency. Dallas showed their hand early with their first-round draft pick, injecting some youth into their offensive line. This has been an area of concern with injuries to Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, Travis Frederick’s premature retirement, and the departure of Cameron Erving, La’el Collins, and Connor Williams.

Jerry and Stephen Jones also took several shots at buffing up their defense with multiple defensive players drafted in the second, fifth, and sixth rounds. These players will have an opportunity to make names for themselves in camp alongside great established defenders like Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons.

List of players drafted by round:

  • First round, 24th overall: Tyler Smith, Offensive Tackle, University of Tulsa
  • Second round, 56th overall: Sam Williams, Linebacker, Ole Miss
  • Third round, 88th overall: Jalen Tolbert, Wide Receiver, South Alabama University
  • Fourth round, 129th overall: Jake Ferguson, Tight End, University of Wisconsin
  • Fifth round, 155th overall: Matt Waletzko, Offensive Tackle, North Dakota University
  • Fifth round, 167th overall: DaRon Bland, Cornerback, Fresno State University
  • Fifth round, 176th overall: Damone Clark, Linebacker, Louisiana State University
  • Fifth round, 178th overall: John Ridgeway, Defensive Tackle, University of Arkansas
  • Sixth round, 193rd overall: Devin Harper, Linebacker, Oklahoma State University

Dallas Cowboys 2022 NFL Draft Grade: 5/10

Dallas Cowboys 2022 NFL Draft Review

Player With Immediate Impact: Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith is a massive offensive lineman from the University of Tulsa. He is a very young player having just turned 21 years old. Dallas plans for Smith to anchor the offensive line after the recent turnover. Dallas was regarded as having the best offensive line in the NFL but has fallen short of that reputation in recent seasons. The Cowboys have lost Erving, Collins, and Williams all to free agency. Fredrick shocked the NFL world by announcing his premature retirement. Making matters worse, the Cowboys have had difficulty keeping Tyron Smith and Zack Martin healthy and on the field.

Tyler Smith is a great fit for the Cowboys considering his raw talent and size. He played offensive tackle at Tulsa, but will likely move to a guard position or right offensive tackle as Tyron Smith has the strong-side tackle position locked down. Tyron Smith is still one of the best linemen in the NFL and Tyler Smith has a great opportunity to learn from one of the best in the game.

Tyler Smith will have some work to do as he is rough around the edges. He was penalty prone at Tulsa committing 12 penalties in 2021 and 14 penalties in 2020. If he wants to earn a starting position he will have to clean up his play competing. With Connor McGovern.

Biggest Steal: Sam Williams

Sam Williams was definitely a steal in the second round for the Cowboys. Dallas was quick to feel a need defensively after Randy Gregory signed with the Denver Broncos in free agency. Williams was an up-and-down player for Ole Miss over the last couple of seasons. Williams struggled his senior season, seeing a dip in production. The talented edge rusher wisely used the pandemic rules to cash in on a second senior season. Williams racked up 15 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks during his second senior season, boosting his draft stock. The talented edge rusher was named third-team All-American and was voted to the first-team All-SEC team. He continued to turn heads racing for a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

Despite all his accolades and skill, there are some question marks surrounding Williams. He has a history of suffering from inconsistent play and was not on the field every play for Ole Miss. Williams will have a steep learning curve if he wants to be an every-down defensive player. He will likely play a role in a pass-rush scheme for the Cowboys and will work to find the field full-time.

The Head-Scratcher: Jake Ferguson

Ferguson is a tight-end from the University of Wisconsin. He is a pass-catching tight-end that was a key piece for the Badgers. Ferguson was selected to the first-team All-Big Ten team in 2021 and led his team with 46 receptions, 450 yards, and three touchdowns. He started 13 games in his senior season and was a leader on and off the field.

Ferguson is a great player and pass-catcher coming off a great 2021. He does, however, struggle with blocking lacking the physicality and strength to keep defensive ends out of the backfield. Ferguson is a head-scratcher for Dallas after the Cowboys retained both Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. One of the biggest question marks for the Cowboys is the offensive line. Ferguson is a “certified tough guy,” but won’t contribute in run blocking. Big D already has two great pass catchers, and adding a third tight-end adds depth to a position rather than strengthening a weakness.

Everyone Else

Offense: Jalen Tolbert and Matt Waletzko

Dallas took another flyer at wide receiver drafting Jalen Tolbert. This 6’3” wide receiver has elite speed and excellent ball skills. Running a 4.49 40-yard dash, He will help Dallas blow the lid off down the field. This addition is essential as the offensive line is sure to struggle this season with all the turnover. Keeping safeties from sliding down on run plays will also help to open the run game for a struggling offensive line and aging Ezekiel Elliott. Tolbert showcased his talents with 82 receptions for 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns in his senior season for South Alabama. He also boasts an impressive 17.6 yards per catch for his entire collegiate career.

Matt Waletzko is a 6’8” 315 lb offensive tackle from North Dakota. He had some issues with health during his career at North Dakota missing several games in 2019 and 2021. When healthy, Waletzko bounced defenders all over the field playing in the FCS. He was never truly tested thanks to his lightweight schedule but was a standout both physically and with his skill at offensive tackle.

Waletzko has his work cut out for him competing with fellow offensive linemen Tyler Smith and Connor McGovern. Some of his biggest weaknesses include average foot quickness, his pad level, pass-blocking posture, and lack of tests at the FCS level. Dallas will surely try to capitalize on his size and potential to further bolster the waning offensive line.

Defense: DaRon Bland, Damone Clark, John Ridgeway, Devin Harper

DaRon Bland is a 6’ 200 lb corner from Fresno State. Dallas did their homework circling this name before the draft. Bland was not much of an impact player at Fresno State and was certainly rough around the edges He will need to improve his tackling, disruptiveness, and cover ability if he wants to do more than add depth at cornerback.

Damone Clark was a great pick for the Cowboys in the fifth round. The former national champion linebacker ranked fourth in FBS with 135 tackles and led his team with 15.5 tackles for loss. Clark should compete for a starting position immediately. He is in great company and will hopefully learn from the likes of Micah Parsons. He will fit in perfectly with Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch after the team parted ways with Jaylon Smith.

John Ridgeway is another late-round draft pick. The 6’5’’ 320 lb defensive lineman looks to make an immediate impact for the Dallas Cowboys. Ridgeway transferred from the FCS to Arkansas and showcased his talents immediately. He had his best game of the season against #1 ranked Georgia with seven tackles. Ridgeway has tons of potential as a fairly raw athlete. He is sure to turn heads at training camp and hopefully earn impactful playing time in 2022.

Dallas’ final pick was Devin Harper, an inside linebacker from Oklahoma State University. Harper was the leading tackler for the Oklahoma State Cowboys during his second senior season. He racked up 95 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, broke up a pass, and recovered two fumbles during his super senior season. Harper’s motor and motivation are sure to turn heads at training camp alongside Damone Clark.

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