The Dallas Cowboys are 4-2 and with Dak Prescott’s return becoming imminent, there’s a lot of hope around America’s Team.
But it’s never too early to start looking to the future and evaluating what the team could look like next season.
The Cowboys have one draft pick in all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. We won’t know the exact position of each pick until the season comes to an end.
Unless Dallas’ season takes an unexpected turn for the worse, we can project the first round selection will be slotted somewhere beyond the 20th pick.
Here’s how the draft could shake out based on team needs going into the 2023 season:
Round 1: Bijan Robinson, Texas RB
The Cowboys will be faced with some tough decisions at running back once the season ends. Dallas could opt to buyout Ezekiel Elliott’s contract, but it would cost $11.86 million in dead cap.
The most likely scenario is for the Cowboys to keep Zeke and let Tony Pollard walk in free agency. Dallas can’t afford to keep both backs next year.
But that’s OK because there are some strong RB prospects in the college ranks. The Cowboys could even select a player that fans are already watching on Saturdays.
Robinson’s 780 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns rank eighth and fifth in the NCAA, respectively.
The 20-year-old is excellent at finding running lanes to burst through for big gains. Once in the open field, Robinson is elusive and can make defenders miss tackles to keep going for big yardage plays.
Round 2: Marvin Mims, Oklahoma WR
Noah Brown has been a revelation for the Cowboys this season at WR. He’s second in receiving yards but is only making a tick above $1 million.
Brown is a free agent at season’s end and he could sign elsewhere to get a bigger role in a new offense. The only veteran WRs Dallas has under contract going into 2023 are CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
Lamb was a former Oklahoma WR, so why not go back to the well by drafting Mims in the second round.
At 5’11, 177-pounds, Mims is a speedster. Flick a short pass to him and he’s a threat to make a big play. But Mims is also talented at reeling in deep passes.
Round 3: Eli Ricks, Alabama CB
Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis and DaRon Bland are the only CBs certain to return for Dallas next season. Dallas has a top group of defensive backs in the NFL, but adding a CB in the draft could be a necessity to keep that going into 2023.
Ricks is a big, lengthy CB at 6’2, 196-pounds. He certainly has the size to cover larger WRs in the NFL.
The California-native has a nose for the football and shows aggressiveness in coverage. Ricks is skilled at reading routes and breaking up passes.
Round 4: Layden Robinson, Texas A&M G
The Cowboys LG depth will be depleted after this season wraps up. Starter Connor McGovern and backup Jason Peters will both be free agents. Peters is an aging one-year rental, so he’s certain to be gone. McGovern is only 24, but hasn’t been overly impressive this season.
If Dallas lets McGovern walk in free agency, they’ll be forced to either sign a replacement or fill the role through the draft.
At 6’4, 330-pounds, Robinson certainly has the size to move big defensive linemen in the interior. But he moves well for his size and can block linebackers and defensive backs down field. Robinson is a strong run blocker and an average pass blocker.
Round 5: Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina QB
Cooper Rush played well in Dak Prescott’s absence this season. Rush is a free agent at year’s end and there’s a chance he gets paid to compete for a starting job elsewhere.
McCall has 1,940 passing yards and 18 touchdowns on the season, ranking 16th and 8th, respectively. Despite having the fifth-most passing attempts in college football, he’s only thrown one interception.
Despite his impressive numbers, there’s a chance McCall falls in the draft because he goes to Coastal Carolina.
Round 6: Darius Muasau, UCLA LB
Some NFL Draft experts believe the Cowboys need to address LB earlier in the draft. However, Dallas drafted Damone Clark in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The former Dick Butkus Award finalist was slated to go in the early rounds of last year’s draft. But after herniating a disc during the NFL Combine, Clark underwent spinal transfusion surgery.
The former LSU Tiger is expected to make his debut in 2023. When he does, he could earn a starting spot on the defense. His return also allows Dallas to address the LB position later in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Muasau is solid in pass coverage as well as run defense. In six games this season, he’s racked up 38 total tackles.
Round 7: Zak Zinter, Michigan G
It’s possible the Cowboys could double-dip on guards in the draft to create some competition in training camp.
Zinter is excellent in pass coverage. In 2021, he took 733 snaps and allowed only one sack. He’s off to a strong start in 2022 and if that continues, he could be a sleeper pick in the late rounds of the draft.