Cowboys News: Draft footage reveals Dallas almost took surprise guard over Mazi Smith

Nov 26, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Syracuse Orange offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron
Nov 26, 2022; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Syracuse Orange offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys took nearly everyone by surprise when they drafted Michigan defensive lineman Mazi Smith with the No. 26 overall pick. After the Bills leapfrogged Dallas in a trade with the Jaguars to draft Dalton Kincaid, many presumed the Cowboys would fulfill the tight end prophecy and draft Michael Mayer.

As it turns out, the first-round tight end buzz was just a smokescreen, as Dallas waited until the second round to take a tight end.

With very few needs to address, it's clear the Cowboys wanted to plug their remaining roster holes instead of taking the best player available. That's why a multitude of mock drafts projected a tight end to Dallas in round one.

It makes for an interesting debate if Dallas would have taken Kincaid if Buffalo didn't panic, but new footage from the team's war room moments before they drafted Smith shows a tight end wasn't considered with the 26th pick.

In fact, it seems as though Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron was the other player under consideration.

Cowboys nearly drafted Syracuse OL Matthew Bergeron over Michigan DL Mazi Smith

There's speculation going around on Twitter that TCU guard Steve Avila was the offensive linemen in question, but 105.3 The Fan's Kevin Gray put that narrative to rest and doubled down Bergeron was the player in Dallas' crosshairs.

Further Cowboys insiders David Moore and Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News confirmed the team gave Bergeron strong consideration.

Based on the footage, Dallas' war room was torn on whether to draft Smith or Bergeron, who was drafted 38th overall by the Falcons after they traded up. Luckily, the great Will McClay intervened and reminded everyone that Smith was the team's highest-rated interior defensive linemen in "quite some time."

McClay essentially argued the Cowboys' already have a starting five on their offensive line: Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, Tyler Smith, Terence Steele and Tyler Biadasz. Though there's a hole at left guard, Tyler Smith will likely start there Week 1 assuming Steele is all systems go following ACL surgery and rehab.

It's impossible to know whether Dallas made the right call. At face value, Mazi Smith fills the more urgent need as the Cowboys' defense -- specifically the middle of the defense -- was bullied against the run for most of 2022.

As the consensus top nose tackle in the draft, Smith should pay immediate dividends in that regard, even if he doesn't start from day one.

With the cat of the bag in terms of the Cowboys' interest in Bergeron, though, fans will be monitoring how the former Syracuse star's career pans out.

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