The Cowboys have not been shy about drafting Mountain West conference football players over the last decade.
Dallas drafted Viliami Fehoko from San Jose State in the 4th round, 129th overall, on Saturday, and when you look around the league, teams are loaded with excellent players from this conference.
The edge rusher, Fehoko was a 2x first-team All-MWC player, is the cousin of Bucs Pro Bowl lineman Vita Vea, and oh won the defensive player of the year for the MWC in 2022.
If you follow Cowboys football at all, you should know they have three big-time starters on their roster already from the conference.
Cornerback DaRon Bland was drafted a season ago by the Cowboys from Fresno State.
He should be in line for a more productive season in 2023. He only played 52 percent of the defensive plays for Dallas last year. Even so, he had five interceptions and seven passes defended.
Even with the trade of Stephon Gilmore in March, Bland should have plenty of opportunities to prove himself even more next season. I am ready for this defense to be even better than before.
LEIGHTON VANDER ESCH
On his “prove it” deal, Leighton Vander Esch showed up big time. He has spent all five seasons with Dallas, made the Pro Bowl, and was named second-team AP All-Pro as a rookie.
Although he hasn't played to that exact level since then, he was terrific a year ago. LVE had 90 tackles in 2022. If he can stay on the field like last season, he can continue to be a very good player for this defense.
DeMarcus Lawrence is the best MWC player this team has right now. He made his third Pro Bowl last year after setting a career-high in tackles with 66.
He added six sacks, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. Lawrence has been with the team since 2014, totaling 386 tackles and 54.5 sacks.
With all that said, this team has found constant success inside the Mountain West conference. Fehoko has all the pieces around him to be good with this defense.
You don't become a player of the year in a conference that has produced many NFL stars out of luck.
Sometimes the game changes pace a bit, and it gets more complicated at the next level, but I am excited about Fehoko.
The Cowboys are loaded on the defensive side of the football. Big if, obviously, but if the playmakers can stay healthy like a year ago, this defense has a chance to be even better.
He has excellent pass-rushing ability, and his motor is awesome, but I worry about his explosiveness. Fehoko is good at what he does but sometimes gets caught when asked to do more than needed.
The good news is that with being on a defense filled with playmakers. He can sit back and pick his spots. I am sure Dan Quinn will have plenty of stuff dialed up to try and get him involved.
Going to be a fun summer covering this team. Let's hope they continue to win games next year.