Welcome to the seventh annual edition of Drafting Dallas! While the format and frequency of this feature have both changed over the years, the principal remains the same — I assume front office duties to mock draft the full seven rounds for my favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys, using my DRAFTPLEX Board and the current official draft order.
Projected picks as presented were made as realistically as possible based on my personal evaluations and impressions of the team’s pre-draft activities, offering a scenario that could potentially play out over the course of the three-day 2023 NFL Draft.
With that in mind, let’s go on the clock with Drafting Dallas 2023.
Round 1 | Pick 26
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Despite having two promising young tight ends on the roster in Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot, there is a sky full of smoke floating about that the Cowboys are interested in taking a tight end early. When you consider the offseason exit of former starter Dalton Schultz, this top-heavy tight end class, and their draft position relative to the talent expected to be available, it makes sense to suggest that Dallas will be targeting a tight end with their first-round pick. Utah’s Dalton Kincaid is an athletic, passing-game mismatch—a dynamic weapon who is made for the modern NFL and who fits the profile of what the Cowboys appear to be seeking for the position.
Now, let me say that in both my 2023 NFL Mock Draft: 1.0 Edition and my 2023 NFL Draft Super Mock, I projected Texas running back Bijan Robinson to the Cowboys and he would unquestionably be the best player available if still on the board at #26. However, even playing a devalued position, it would take a minor miracle for a back of his caliber to slide to Dallas late in the first round. That said, the scenario cannot be ruled completely out — in fact, I laid out two reasonable scenarios in the aforementioned mock drafts. In my view, if the Cowboys were to have that good fortune, Bijan Robinson would no doubt be headed to Dallas as the immediate successor to Ezekiel Elliott.
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU
Will McDonald IV, EDGE, Iowa State
Round 2 | Pick 58
Steve Avila, OG, TCU
The Cowboys were forced to play musical chairs with their offensive line last season, rolling out various combinations at left tackle, left guard, and right tackle due to injury and availability. Heading into the draft, the situation still seems complicated as they attempt to field their two bookend blockers from among last year’s rookie starter Tyler Smith, long-time anchor Tyron Smith, and a returning Terence Steele. Meanwhile, left guard appears to be the leftover spot—a position where they don’t have a proactive solution. Drafting TCU’s Steve Avila would address that vacancy, giving Dallas a day-one starter at left guard, while simultaneously adding valuable depth at center.
Julius Brents, CB, Kansas State
Tyrique Stevenson, CB, Miami
Zach Charbonnet, RB, UCLA
Round 3 | Pick 90
Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
The outside cornerback spot opposite Trevon Diggs was a problem area practically all of last season, leading to the Cowboys trading a fifth-round pick to the Colts this offseason for veteran starter Stephon Gilmore. With Diggs due for what expects to be a hefty new contract, Gilmore only locked in for one year, and limited returns from previous early picks, the plan now should be to draft a developmental starter for the immediate future. South Carolina’s Darius Rush has emerged from among a crowded secondary group during the draft process and would make for a talented understudy during his rookie season while seeing meaningful action on special teams.
Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pitt
Rashee Rice, WR, SMU
Yasir Abdullah, LB, Louisville
Round 4 | Pick 129
DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas
The Cowboys are currently thin at linebacker, but it is typically a position that they reload during the draft. A versatile second-level defender who is firmly on their radar in the late-Day 2 or early-Day 3 range is Texas’ DeMarvion Overshown. With experience playing safety, linebacker, and on the edge, his fit with Dallas in a hybrid role becomes more apparent when you consider how defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has utilized Jayron Kearse and Donovan Wilson within his defensive scheme. Overshown is also experienced on special teams and would take over for Luke Gifford (now with the Titans) as a core contributor in the kicking game.
Round 5 | Pick 169 (compensatory)
DeWayne McBride, RB, UAB
Between Dallas parting ways with veteran workhorse Ezekiel Elliott this offseason and Tony Pollard both recovering from a significant injury and returning to play on the franchise tag, the team’s future at running back is the cloudiest it has been in several years. If Dallas doesn’t address the position early, UAB’s DeWayne McBride would be among the viable options in the middle rounds. McBride has room to improve, but was a productive college runner and has the upside to outplay free agent signee Ronald Jones and reserves Malik Davis and Rico Dowdle for a complementary role alongside Pollard.
Round 6 | Pick 212 (compensatory)
Chamarri Conner, S, Virginia Tech
Deep reserve roles in the secondary expect to be up for grabs come training camp, so expect to see the Cowboys introduce additional competition with either a late-round pick or a priority free agent. Virginia Tech’s Chamarri Conner is a highly-experienced and versatile defensive back, with double-digit starts in college at cornerback, at nickel, and at safety, while also serving as a special teams ace.
Round 7 | Pick 244
Max Duggan, QB, TCU
The Cowboys’ front office is trending in the direction of using draft capital to play the quarterback lottery more frequently than in previous years. This year’s ticket appears to belong to TCU’s Max Duggan, with owner and general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy both sharing very positive opinions of the project passer heading into the draft. If he remains on the board late on Day 3, look for Dallas to turn in the card to avoid the post-draft scramble for undrafted talent.