Cowboys: Winners and losers from the 2023 NFL Draft

Dec 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) celebrates with
Dec 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) celebrates with / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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Loser: Peyton Hendershot

Typically, second-round draft picks go on to play heavy snaps as rookies. Tight ends are usually exceptions to the mean in that regard, but No. 58 overall pick Luke Schoonmaker has plug-and-play potential given his ability to double as a blocker in the run game and a vertical threat in the passing game.

That doesn't bode well for Hendershot. Though the undrafted free agent showed promise as a rookie catching 11 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns, Schoonmaker's arrival bumps him to third in the tight end pecking order.

Schoonmaker might not start right away, but Dallas remains high on 2022 fourth-round selection Jake Ferguson. Ferguson isn't a great blocker, but his upside as a pass-catcher means he'll start until Schoonmaker is ready to take over. Even when Schoonmaker starts, Fergsuon will be heavily involved.

Winner: Micah Parsons, Cowboys linebackers

Multiple parties will benefit from Dallas' selection of Mazi Smith; none more than Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark.

With Smith consuming blockers in the trenches, Vander Esch and Clark should have more clear shots at running backs. Vander Esch was already a strong run defender before Smith's arrival, so his presence should grow. Clark struggled at times against the run, which is normal for a rookie linebacker, and the addition of Smith should only make his life easier.

The same goes for Parsons. Now that the Cowboys have a true nose tackle who can push the pocket inside, the Defensive Player of the Year finalist could flirt with 15-20 sacks next season. Smith figures to compile several assists by flushing opposing QBs out of the pocket, and Parsons will reap the benefits given he's almost always in the backfield.

Next. Stacked 2023 class proves Dallas owns undrafted free agency. dark