Analyzing the Cowboys 2023 draft class and their possible roles

2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3
2023 NFL Draft - Rounds 2-3 / David Eulitt/GettyImages
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4th Round (129th) Viliami Fehoko Jr. DE, San Jose State ADP:169th (-40)

Dan Quinn made it his offseason priority to help fix the team's run defence. With two of the first three selections in the draft, defenders known to stop the run were added in Smith and Overshown. Considering how well the pass defence and offence were last year, the Cowboys weren't done addressing that yet.

Fans were waiting for a running back or guard to fall to them, but other teams got there first. To add some power and someone that lives in the backfield to the defensive line, they drafted San Jose State's Viliami Fehoko Jr.

Very noticeable on tape for the intensity he plays with, the 276-pound end has many pass-rush moves to challenge any offensive lineman. That's how he managed to rack up 12.5+ tackles for a loss in each of the past three seasons, combining for 44 in 32 games.

The cousin of Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea said the team already made it known they want him to play on the inside and edge of the defensive line. He may need to gain some weight to be more stable on the inside, but he certainly has the skills to do it. He is the heaviest DE in Dallas.

PLUS: The Cowboys already roster many speed guys on their defensive line. They have missed power, which is what Fehoko gives. He can bull rush, chop, swim, spin, whatever you want when pass rushing. If his relentless effort doesn't give opposing linemen a headache, his many pass-rush moves will.

His athletic metrics better suit him on the interior, but playing on the edge gives Quinn a big front and more hybrid looks. The California native was very productive in the Mountain West conference playing all over the defensive line.

MINUS: If he plays on the inside, he will be quite undersized. If he plays on the outside, he will be too heavy and slow. The Cowboys need to be precise about when they utilize him to ensure the offence doesn't exploit him, especially with the jump in competition.

He will struggle to anchor when double-teamed and must win at the point of attack on the edge. Tackles pushed him to the outside, opting to make him run around them since they don't view him as much of a threat compared to the inside.

ROLE: He will be a great asset at the three or four spot, with the flexibility to go on the edge for running downs. Fehoko adds an element of power to the Cowboys' pass rush that has been missing outside DeMarcus Lawrence and occasionally Micah Parsons.

He is more of a 3-4 DE than a base 4-3 DE, but that's ok because Quinn will find ways to maximize his strengths. He wasn't much of a reach and adds big-play ability to the Cowboys' defensive line.

More help defending the run and position flexibility is a plus to me. The competition jump worries me, so he will need time to adjust, getting some snaps early in the season in specific situations. A solid pick, but other positions of need were neglected. He ranged from 113th on PFF's mock to 220th on CBS' Chris Trapasso's.