Cowboys NFL Draft Grades: Marist Liufau reach looms large amid RB questions

Notre Dame v Stanford
Notre Dame v Stanford / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

After bolstering their defensive and offensive lines with their first two picks on day two, the expectation was that the Dallas Cowboys would use their final selection on a running back. In a surprising turn of events, the RB wait will continue as Dallas drafted Notre Dame linebacker Marist Liufau with the No. 87 overall pick.

The Cowboys bypassed Michigan linebacker Junior Colson with the No. 73 pick in favor of interior offensive lineman Cooper Beebe. N.C. State linebacker Payton Wilson was available when Liufau was picked, but it seems Dallas red-flagged Wilson due to his lengthy injury history.

There's a lot to be excited about Liufau, but we're struggling to grasp the plan at running back considering the Cowboys don't pick again until late in the fifth round. Only a handful of RBs have come off the board, but there could be an early run at the position on day three.

Cowboys NFL Draft grade for Maris Liufau selection: C+

Liufau the player deserves a higher grade, but the Cowboys passed on USC running back Marshawn Lloyd in favor of the linebacker. Sure enough, the Packers used the very next pick (No. 88 overall) on Lloyd, whom draft expert Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network believes is the best back in this class.

Jeremiah was convinced that Dallas was taking Lloyd with the 87th pick. That obviously doesn't mean Liufau was a poor selection. Time will decide that. At the end of the day, a C+ is a respectable grade. The Cowboys sorely needed a linebacker following Leighton Vander Esch's retirement.

Eric Kendricks was a quality signing, but he's no spring chicken and there are questions surrounding DeMarvion Overshown's health coming off a torn ACL and Damone Clark's overall performance after his subpar year two.

It stands to reason that Liufau will compete for snaps behind that trio. He was exceptional in coverage for the Fighting Irish (zero TDs allowed since 2022) and is a heat-seeking missile when pursuing ball-carriers. Those traits will resonate with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Want to feel better about the Liufau pick, the Cowboys reportedly rejected multiple trade offers for the 87th pick because they didn't want to risk losing him by trading back. The running back vacancy looms large, but Liufau is worth being excited about even if he doesn't move the needle like Beebe.