FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys drafted Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith with the 26th pick in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night.
Dallas picked Smith after Buffalo moved a spot ahead of the Cowboys and drafted Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid. Tight end was a popular position with pundits after Dalton Schultz left the Cowboys in free agency a year after playing on the franchise tag.
Although the Cowboys could use more offensive firepower around quarterback Dak Prescott, the run defense was the weakest part of an an otherwise solid unit in a second consecutive playoff season for Dallas in 2022.
The 6-foot-3, 323-pound Smith gives the Cowboys more size on the interior of the defensive line. Dallas also re-signed Johnathan Hankins after trading for him last season.
It’s the fourth time in five years the Cowboys have taken a defensive tackle in the first three rounds, but the first time the club has drafted a true defensive tackle in the first round since Russell Maryland with the No. 1 overall pick in 1991.
Defensive tackle Trysten Hill was the first Dallas draft pick as a second-rounder in 2019 but didn’t finish his rookie contract before he was released.
Smith started 14 games in 2021 and 2022 as the Wolverines reached the College Football Playoff both seasons. He played three seasons at Michigan.