After a promising season ended in disappointment, the Dallas Cowboys turned to the 2022 NFL Draft hoping to find answers to lingering questions. The main ones are replacing offensive tackle La’el Collins, defensive end Randy Gregory and wide receiver Amari Cooper. With a quite free agency, Dallas elected to do most of their damage through the draft. Below we breakdown, every pick and let you know if they made the right choice or not.
First Round- Offensive Tackle Tyler Smith, Tulsa
A surprise pick especially considering edge rushers Jermaine Johnson II and George Karlaftis still on the board, Smith was one of the best linemen in the class. While not in the same ballpark as top linemen Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, and Charles Cross, Smith was one of the few remaining linemen with a borderline first-round grade. Concerns of holding aside, Smith is a big physical lineman who can get to the second level and should figure into the lineup sooner rather than later. Where he lands either at tackle or guard considering the departure of Connor Williams is something to keep an eye on.
Second Round- Sam Williams Defensive End, Ole Miss
Off-field issues aside, Williams is one of the best pass rushers in the draft notching 12.5 sacks last season. At 260-pounds with 4.4 speed Williams is a nightmare for both offensive linemen and tight ends alike. Should have an immediate impact and role along a revamped line. Keep an eye on the battle between him and fellow end Dorrance Armstrong in camp for the starting job opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
Third Round- Jalen Tolbert Wide Reciever, South Alabama
The reigning Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Tolbert set the single-season receiving record and averaged 17.6 yards per catch over his career. At 6’1 he possesses 4.3 speed and helps fill the voids left by Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson out wide. With Michael Gallup recovering from ACL surgery, expect Tolbert to have every opportunity to carve out a role and make an impact from day one.
Fourth Round- Jake Ferguson Tight End, Wisconsin
The First Team All-Big 10 Ferguson shows a lot of similar traits to current Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz who is playing under the franchise tag. Ferguson grabbed a team-high 46 catches and converted 27 first downs for the Badgers. A solid blocker too, he projects as a nice backup to Schultz or a long-term replacement if Dallas moves on from Schultz after the season.
Fifth Round- Matt Waletzko Offensive Tackle, North Dakota
A mammoth of a man at 6’7, Waletzko started 28 of 32 games at left tackle a position Dallas is thin at. According to Pro Football Focus, he graded out an 80 in run blocking and 78.9 in pass blocking. While not expected to contribute right away, he could end up being the long-term replacement for the aging Tyron Smith.
Fifth Round- DeRon Bland Cornerback, Fresno State
Bland started his career at FCS Sacramento State where he became an all-conference guy before transferring to Fresno where he became a physical and reliable corner. Despite only nabbing two interceptions he plays the ball well and is a willing tackler and with 4.4 speed can make up for blown coverages. Should be given every opportunity to compete for playing time opposite Trevon Diggs.
Fifth Round- Damone Clark Linebacker, LSU
Clark could turn out to be the best player in the class but will have to wait until the 2023 season to due so after having spinal fusion surgery. Graded as a possible late day one, early day two talent Clark did it all for LSU notching 135 tackles first in the SEC. The Butkus Award finalist stands 6’2 and runs a 4.5 in the forty. On top of his production, he was awarded the number 18, which is given to the best leader in the LSU program voted on by the team. While he might remind some of the Jaylen Smith pick, Clark has all the tools to possibly take Leighton Vander Esch’s spot and become a mainstay for years to come.
Fifth Round- John Ridgeway Defensive Tackle, Arkansas
Ridgeway started his career at FCS Illinois State before transferring to Arkansas where he became their best interior run defender. At 6’5 321-pounds he has the size the Cowboys lacked in the middle last season and should help shore up some of the run defense problems. With four sacks under his belt he can offer something when it comes to a pass rush but likely will have an early role in running situations.
Sixth Round- Devin Harper Linebacker, Oklahoma State
While limited to just 16 starts in 59 career games Harper made the most of it notching 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, and over 90 tackles last season for a really good OSU defense. Has the chance to become a three-down linebacker as he doesn’t get fooled easily in coverage and has shown to be a suitable pass rusher. He will likely earn most of his early playing time on special teams, don’t be surprised if he carves out a role in the linebacker core sooner than later. Great late-round value.