Mazi Smith weight revelation will make Cowboys fans more grateful for Mike Zimmer

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Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys could have taken a defensive tackle early in the NFL Draft and nobody would have batted an eye. Well, that's not entirely true. With glaring needs at left tackle, center and linebacker, folks may have taken issue with Dallas using another high pick on an interior defender.

After all, they spent their 2023 first-round pick on Mazi Smith, a nose tackle out of Michigan. The selection excited Cowboys fans, who believed Smith would transform a defense that struggled mightily against the run for most of Dan Quinn's tenure as defensive coordinator.

In Smith's defense, nobody expected him to lose a ton of weight and covert to a three-technique tackle. It was a complete diversion from Smith's starring role at Michigan and his impact was nowhere to be found. It's speculated that Quinn asked Smith to lose the weight and switch positions.

Under Mike Zimmer, Smith is expected to transition back to a nose tackle. That's the best-case scenario for Smith and the Cowboys. The early indications are extremely positive after Smith weighed in to start Dallas' offseason program.

Mazi Smith's weight revelation validates Cowboys' Mike Zimmer hire

Per Patrik Walker of the team's official website, Smith weighed in a 328 pounds. That's notable because that's the weight Smith was at during the pre-draft process. In other words, Smith is back to his Michigan playing weight, which helped him become one of the most disruptive DTs in the nation.

Smith was one of the strongest players in the 2023 class. He has the prototypical build of a nose tackle, which made Quinn's supposed weight loss request all the more baffling. It's not like Smith's weight impacted his snap share, either. He averaged almost 50 snaps per game against power five schools.

It's impossible to deny that Smith disappointed as a rookie, but we struggle to put much stock in his struggles given he was asked to perform at an unfamiliar weight and switch positions. It might not seem like much on paper, but but a 1-tech nose tackle and three-technique DT are miles apart in terms of playing styles.

Smith's weight gain speaks to Mike Zimmer's vision for the player and Cowboys defense as a collective. Zimmer's defenses historically have prioritized stopping the run. While Smith wasn't effective in that department in year one, getting back to 328 pounds (with hopefully more to come before training camp in late-July) will pay huge dividends.

With Zimmer at the helm, Smith is being put in the best position to succeed. The same cannot be said about Quinn last season.

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