The Dallas Cowboys took many by surprise by drafting Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith with the 26th pick in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
Dallas selected Smith after Buffalo moved up one spot ahead of the Cowboys and picked Utah tight end Dalton Kincaid.
Pundits were expecting the Cowboys to draft a tight end after the departure of Dalton Schultz.
While the Cowboys could use more offensive firepower around quarterback Dak Prescott, the ground defense was the weakest part of a solid unit in a second straight playoff season for Dallas in 2022.
Mazi Smith: A 323-pound defensive tackle
What Smith will offer to the Cowboys is an imposing presence on the interior of the defensive line.
Smith started 14 games in 2021 and 2022 as the Wolverines reached the College Football Playoff in both seasons. He played three seasons at Michigan.
The 323-pound defensive tackle will join forces with Johnathan Hankins, who re-signed for the Cowboys one year after being traded.
It’s the fourth time in five years the Cowboys have selected a defensive tackle in the first three rounds, but the first time the club has drafted a first-round defensive tackle since Russell Maryland, who was selected with the first overall pick in 1991.