The Dallas Cowboys surprised a lot of people with their approach to the 2023 NFL Draft. It started with their selection of Mazi Smith in the first round, who admittedly was their highest-graded defensive tackle in years.
Luke Schoonmaker in round two was also asunning, as was then they double dipped on defensive linemen in Villami Fehoko in the fourth.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was when Dallas traded up in the sixth round to select Southern Miss corner Eric Scott Jr. While Scott's 8.69 relative athletic score jumped out to teams, many analysts expected him to go undrafted given he's a developing corner and lacks discipline against the run.
Then again, Scott was a pre-draft visit with the Cowboys. He'll contribute immediately on special teams and it wouldn't surprise if the scouting department regards him as a player who can don multiple hats in the secondary.
Whatever the case, Scott is already impressing at OTAs. So much so that took reps with the first-team defense last Thursday, per Mickey Spagnola of Cowboys dot com.
Cowboys rookie Tyler Scott impressing at OTAs, Tyler Smith praised
"But sure did see sixth-round draft choice Eric Scott Jr., the Southern Mississippi cornerback the Cowboys traded into the sixth round's first pick, getting some first-team reps at right corner opposite veteran Stephon Gilmore. Telling you, keep an eye on this kid," Spagnola wrote.
Spagnola noted in the previous paragraph that Trevon Diggs did not participate in Thursday's practice. That left the door open for someone to fill in opposite Stephon Gilmore, but it speaks volumes Scott got the nod over the likes of Nahshon Wright and Kelvin Joseph, who's been working in the nickel at OTAs.
DaRon Bland is the favorite to start in the slot, while Jourdan Lewis has largely manned the nickel throughout his career. Does Thursday mean Scott is the third in the pecking order at outside corner? Was this merely the Cowboys coaching staff throwing Scott to the wolves to see how he managed?
It's anyone's guess, but the team is clearly high on the player and this is definitely something to watch once training camp gets underway.
In other Cowboys news, Tyler Smith was named to Bucky Brooks' All-Breakout Team for 2023. Par for the course for the second-year lineman, who's earned glowing reviews and projections this offseason after an awesome rookie year.
Brooks mentioned that Smith's ability to play guard and tackle in a pinch allows the Cowboys to deploy their best five blockers.
It's unclear whether Smith will start at left guard or left tackle in 2023. The buzz from OTAs suggests Dallas wants him at left tackle. Regardless of where he plays, Smith is a lock to perform at a high level. He was the top lineman in the league as a rookie and has a world of untapped potential to unlock as he refines his game.