The Dallas Cowboys’ roster has multiple holes that need filling.
Unfortunately, they can only plug one of them with their first round pick in the 2023 draft. Depending on which prospects are available, you can make an argument for a number of positions, including receiver, offensive guard, cornerback, interior defensive linemen, edge rusher, and yes, running back.
The world is quite literally the Cowboys’ oyster in terms of the draft, ad it’ll be interesting to see which prospects rise up draft boards at this week’s Combine.
While the 40-yard dash and other drills have taken centerstage in Indianapolis, the interview process is arguably just as important.
Teams draft players with character and off-field concerns every year — the Cowboys are somewhat renowned for this — but having the desired character intangibles paired with freakish athleticism and potential is a foolproof way for prospects to elevate their stock.
We say all of that to say this: Potential Cowboys first-round target, cornerback Cam Smith out of South Carolina — has been subject to character concerns at the Combine.
Potential Cowboys draft target Cam Smith navigating character concerns at NFL Combine.
Here’s what Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell said of Smith.
"Teams quiz players on their football intelligence, but also dig into their background and character. One player who franchises were interested to speak with was South Carolina cornerback Cam Smith. The 6-foot, 190-pound Smith has quality size for the next level. Team sources, however, said character concerns are hurting Smith with teams, which have identified issues such as work ethic, makeup, and off-the-field habits."
The Cowboys are obviously no strangers to dipping their toes in the character concern pool, but this report should give the front office pause about drafting Smith in such a rich cornerback class. It’s also tough to gauge how much folks should read into this report. Every year, there’s a handful of prospects whose draft stock plummets as a result of pre-draft reporting. We saw it with Justin Fields in 2020.
What makes Smith’s off-field “concerns” so notable, though, is that he’s projected to be drafted within the Cowboys’ range of picks.
PFF has the Gamecock going in the second round in their latest mock, but The Draft Network has him going No. 26 overall to the Giants — one pick before Dallas. Pro Football Network mocked Smith to the Ravens at No. 22 overall, and NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks mocked him to the Bengals at No. 28 overall.
Unless these mocks are totally off-base, there’s a high chance Smith is available when Dallas is on the clock in Round 1.
Again, there’s a lot to like about Smith. He has terrific instincts and ball skills, and ideal size for an NFL corner at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds. He finished the 2022 campaign with strong showings against top-10 teams in Clemson and Tennessee, and held his own against projected first-round wideout Jalin Hyatt.
Even more impressive was Smith’s Combine showing on Friday. He recorded a 4.45 40-yard dash, and his 38-inch vertical placed in the 75th percentile, while his 11-foot-2 broad jump ranked in the 97th (!) percentile. His arm length checked in just under what Dallas seeks in cornerbacks, but it still placed in the 60th percentile among all cornerbacks.
If Smith is high on the Cowboys draft board, it’ll be up to Will McClay and the rest of the scouting department to do their due-diligence on the player’s supposed character concerns. In need of a No. 2 corner to pair with Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland, the front office can’t afford to screw this up.