The Dallas Cowboys added key pieces to both sides of the ball to help fill some gaps from the 2021 season. Read up on the entire Dallas Cowboys 2022 draft class below:
Tyler Smith – Offensive Tackle – Tulsa (Round 1, Pick 24)
The 6’4 324-pound lineman utilizes his size to finish blocks and play with a physicality that is hard to find in today’s NFL. This aggressive style of play paired with superb athleticism gives the former Golden Hurricane the raw talent to be a solid NFL starter.
But inexperience could be an area of concern for the 21-year-old, who headlines the Cowboys’ draft class.
Smith only played in 18 college games following his redshirt season in 2020. Despite flaws in his technique, Smith still dominated opponents in the American Athletic Conference. But those flaws could rear their ugly heads against NFL-level competition.
Now, it’s a matter of whether Smith can make the necessary adjustments in his game to continue imposing his will on defensive linemen.
In an appearance on the PFT PM Podcast, Cowboys executive Stephen Jones noted Smith could start his career at guard before kicking out to tackle, saying:
“We just feel like his skill set really lends to him having an opportunity to be a top, top left tackle at some point. Obviously, we got one of the best in the business for him to learn from in Tyron Smith. Certainly, Tyler Smith will get an opportunity to hit the field at some other spots as well. He’ll compete on that left side, left guard, left tackle.”Stephen Jones, PFT PM Podcast
Sam “De” Williams – Edge Rusher – Ole Miss (Round 2, Pick 56)
Much like Smith, Williams’ athleticism for his size certainly stands out. At 6’4 265-pounds, the former Ole Miss Rebel ran a 4.46 in his 40-yard-dash at the NFL combine.
That speed made it difficult for offensive linemen to keep Williams out of their backfield. In three seasons, he recorded 22.5 sacks.
His 12.5 sack campaign in 2021 broke Ole Miss’ single-season record. Williams also recorded 15 tackles for loss and forced four fumbles last season.
A reason Williams may have slipped to the second round is his arrest ahead of his 2020 college season. He has proven to be the most controversial of the Cowboys 2022 draft picks.
Williams faced a felony charge of sexual battery and was immediately suspended by Ole Miss. But after the charges were dropped a few months later, Williams rejoined the team and played out his final season. Details on the incident weren’t made public.
But in an article in the Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones reassured fans that Dallas did its homework before drafting Williams:
“You have a lot more than just Sam wanting him to be a great NFL and Cowboy football player. He’s got a lot of great people that are on his team that are really, high-quality people. Substantive people. You’re getting a really good package with Sam in my mind.”Jerry Jones
Jalen Tolbert – Wide Receiver – South Alabama (Round 3, Pick 88)
Since trading Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns, Dallas has been searching for another threat to fill the void. It won’t be an easy task as Cooper trailed only CeeDee Lamb in receiving yards in 2021 for Dallas.
Tolbert has major upside, as he was the focal point of South Alabama’s offense. At 6’1 194-pounds, he had the speed and agility to make defenders miss tackles as well as the vertical leap and strength to come down with jump balls.
Tolbert’s biggest question mark is whether he can continue making plays against NFL-level defenders after getting it done against Sun Belt Conference competition.
Jake Ferguson – Tight End – Wisconsin (Round 4, Pick 129)
Pass catching is Ferguson’s strong-suit and the opportunity to learn behind Dalton Scultz could prove to be valuable. Last season, Schultz ranked sixth among tight ends in receiving yards.
Blocking is Ferguson’s weakness, despite his solid 6’5 244-pound frame. With Schultz’s excellent blocking skills, it’s possible they have Ferguson focus more on playmaking than becoming a proficient blocker.
Matt Waletzko – Offensive Tackle – North Dakota (Round 5, Pick 155)
Standing at 6’7 315-pounds, Dallas scored another player that will surely help strike some fear in opponents when they get off the bus.
Waletzko is the lone FCS player drafted to the Cowboys this year. He started getting attention from NFL scouts after backing up an impressive 2021 season with solid play at the Senior Bowl.
A big concern for Waletzko is his weight. Through his college career, he weighed less than 300-pounds. But for the Senior Bowl, he beefed up to 310 and weighed in at 315 at the NFL Combine.
DaRon Bland – Cornerback – Fresno State (Round 5, Pick 167)
Before Fresno State, Bland spent time playing JUCO football for Sacramento State University. At 6’ 197-pounds, Bland has solid size for a defensive back.
Bland could see playing time if the legal issues involving cornerback Kelvin Joseph sideline him this season.
Damone Clark – Linebacker – LSU (Round 5, Pick 176)
The Dick Butkus Award finalist was originally slated to be an early-round draft pick.
But after undergoing spinal transfusion surgery, Dallas is game planning for the future by drafting Clark as he’s expected to make his NFL debut in 2023. The surgery was due to a herniated disc discovered during the NFL Combine.
Clark was the leader of LSU’s defense and wore number 18, given to the top player and defensive leader in Baton Rouge. Fans should absolutely remember his name heading into the 2023 season.
John Ridgeway – Defensive Tackle – Arkansas (Round 5, Pick 178)
At 6’4 327 pounds, the former Razorback could serve as an excellent run stopper for the Cowboys. His size and strength play to his ability to plug the gaps on the interior defensive line.
Run stoppers were needed this offseason, especially after the San Francisco 49ers gashed Dallas’ defense for 169 rushing yards in the Wild Card Round loss last season.
Devin Harper – Linebacker – Oklahoma State – (Round 6, Pick 193)
Harper had a nose for the ball in his senior season, recording 95 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and six sacks.
With an already deep roster at linebacker, Harper could see usage on special teams or the practice squad this season.