The Dallas Cowboys' selection of Mazi Smith initially was met with widespread criticism. The general media still isn't in favor of the move and a handful of analysts criticized the pick in their Day 1 recaps, but a simple glance at the roster and remembering how inept the defense was (at times) against the run last season is all it takes to realize this was a good pick, regardless of positional value.
Instead of giving the pick time to breathe, some fans jumped the pick because they're still scarred from the last time Dallas took a Michigan defensive linemen in the first round: Taco Charlton at No. 28 overall in 2017.
For good reason, Charlton is regarded as one of the worst picks of the Jerry Jones era. He logged four sacks and eight tackles for loss in two seasons before he was cut in 2019 after Dallas failed to find a trade partner.
It was an ugly breakup, as Charlton took to social media to tweet "Free me" as his playing time vanished.
Some fans regrettably have pinned this narrative on Smith, but Charlton made sure to nip it in the bud before the second round got underway.
Former Cowboys bust Taco Charlton supports Mazi Smith amid foolish criticism.
The fact Charlton felt obligated to step in shows this has gotten out of hand. Why separate the players as prospects when you can simply bag on Smith because he happened to attend the same school as a player the Cowboys drafted six (6!) years ago?
We hate to come down on Charlton, who endured plenty criticism both during and after his Cowboys tenure, but he and Smith aren't in the same stratosphere as players. Smith steps in as the reigning premier run defender in the country and projects to have a transformative impact on Dan Quinn's defense.
It's lazy analysis to compare the players. And yet, numerous fans dragged the Mazi selection because of his Ann Arbor roots.
They don't even play the same position! We're not going to pretend we watch countless hours of film on prospects, but it doesn't take a football savant to understand Charlton's pass-rush upside was limited (at best) coming out of Michigan. The tape usually doesn't lie, and it didn't with Charlton.
Smith, meanwhile, is the best NT in the class and has the potential to develop into a game-wrecker as a pass-rusher. With Dan Quinn pulling the defensive strings, there's a better-than-a-puncher's chance of that happening.
Similarly, leave Charlton out of this. He hasn't played with the Cowboys in four years now and just gave Smith a huge vote of confidence when he didn't have to.
Kudos to the 28-year-old pass rusher.