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Grading Every Dallas Cowboys Selection in the 2022 NFL Draft

The 2022 NFL Draft is over, with the having made nine selections in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Throughout the draft, Dallas stood pat and refused to back any trades. Positions of need were the focus of every pick, with a “best player available” strategy being thrown out the window. There are some picks I loved and others I’m a little skeptical about. Many project guys were taken in the later rounds with hopes they’ll develop with time. Only time will tell if that happens, though.

Here are my grades for every selection:

24th Pick: Tulsa OL Tyler Smith

At first, I completely rejected this pick. However, it’s started to grow on me a little bit. Smith is a great run blocker who is aggressive, tenacious and mean, which the Cowboys need across the .

I’m still not thrilled with this pick, though. Smith is a machine, having committed 16 last season. That isn’t ideal for a team that committed the most in the NFL last season. He’s a second-round talent and a project guy taken in the .

Smith is still extremely raw and will be thrown right into the starting lineup. Maybe, he will develop. Let’s hope he does. 

Grade: C

56th Pick: Ole Miss EDGE Sam Williams 

Dallas has been high on Williams for a while, and so have I. He’s a fantastic pass rusher, recording 12.5 and a Pro pass-rush grade of 90.2. Williams is quick off the line and excels at rapidly getting to the .

Say what you want about where Dallas took him; this is still an excellent selection. Yes, Dallas passed on linebacker here, but so did every team. Williams seems hand-picked by , having worked out with him at . I think I’ll trust the man who completely turned around the Cowboys’ last season. 

Grade: A- 

88th Pick: South Alabama WR Jalen Tolbert

This is my favorite pick Dallas made. Tolbert, the 2021 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, presents a great combination of size and speed, catching 82 passes for 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021. 

There’s much to like about Tolbert, but my favorite trait about him is his vertical speed. He gets off his break well and does a great job stacking on top of cornerbacks. This makes him a reliable deep threat, especially with his contested catching ability. Tolbert is a prime candidate for Dallas’ WR3 role in 2022, and I’m excited to see him play.

Grade: A+ 

129th Pick: Wisconsin TE Jake Ferguson

I would’ve preferred Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely at tight end, but Ferguson is a good pick. He’s a reliable red-zone target and is very versatile, having lined up at , and on the line of scrimmage for Wisconsin. Last season, he caught 46 passes for 450 yards and three touchdowns for the Badgers. 

There’s potential for Ferguson to become a good run blocker, too, something Dallas lacked with its tight ends last season. Those blocking skills aren’t quite there yet, but I have no doubt they will develop. Ferguson will be a quality backup to and could potentially replace him one day,

Grade: B+ 

155th Pick: North Dakota OT Matt Waletzko

Waletzko is not ready to start. Luckily for him and Dallas, he won’t have to. Waletzko is a massive prospect, standing at 6-foot-8 and weighing 312 pounds. For being that big, he’s a great athlete. 

Waletzko received a 9.96 relative athletic score from Kent Lee Platte, the sixth-highest of any since 1987. The intangibles are there, and he’s got so much potential. He just needs time to develop. At this stage of the draft, you can afford to take project guys.

Grade: A 

167th Pick: Fresno State CB DaRon Bland

Did Dallas need to address cornerback in this draft? Sure, it doesn’t hurt to have depth. But if the Cowboys wanted to address the , I would’ve instead wanted them to take a

Despite this, Bland isn’t a bad player. Last season, he logged two interceptions with five pass breakups. Bland is versatile, lengthy, quick, has many upsides and is another pick that’ll appease Quinn. Given ’s legal situation, he’ll be insurance as well.

However, other positions could’ve been targeted here, especially on the front seven. Bland is another project, though, so I will not write him off yet.

Grade: C+

176th Pick: LSU LB Damone Clark 

Clark was an absolute steal in the fifth round. He fell that far because he’ll likely miss all of the with a back . But, Clark has the chance to come back firing in 2022. 

He’s got excellent speed, especially when pursuing ball carriers. Clark is explosive out of his stance, can close running lanes well and is very athletic. He is a pick for the future. But given what he can potentially turn into, I have no problem with that. Dallas just got a bargain. 

Grade: A+ 

178th Pick: Arkansas DT John Ridgeway

It’s evident with these picks that the Cowboys learned from their loss to the 49ers. Dallas doesn’t want to get bullied anymore, and its draft reflects that. 

Consider Ridgeway as someone who doesn’t get bullied. He’s a force in the trenches who uses his size to create power in his hands and hips. Ridgeway doesn’t give running backs much space to work with inside and can easily knock an offensive lineman back. He’s here to stop the run, something the Cowboys badly need to improve on. 

Grade: A

193rd Pick: Oklahoma State LB Devin Harper

Here’s a linebacker that will actually play in 2022. I was initially skeptical about double-dipping at linebacker, but Harper is a solid player.

He fits the trend of being a great athlete with substantial upside. Harper provides valuable depth to the linebacker room after recording 11 tackles for loss, six sacks and a pass breakup last season at

I’m still not a fan of picking a linebacker twice, especially since Dallas needed to grab a or safety with this pick. It never hurts to have depth, though.

Grade: B- 

Overall, this was an impressive draft for Dallas. The Cowboys gained a quality haul of day-one starters, rotational options and developmental guys with upside. Dallas typically drafts well, and this looks like yet another hit.

Draft Grade: B+

What do you think?

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Nick Coppola

Written by Nick Coppola

Student at the University of Oklahoma. Reporter for OU Daily. Junior Writer for Inside The Star. Contributor for Guns Up Nation.

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10 Comments

  1. I disagree with your C grade for Tyler Smith. I think he will be starting at left guard this season and somewhere along the Cowboys O-Line for the next 10-12 years.

  2. Under Will McClay Dallas has not missed when using a 1R on an offensive player. In fact they have drafted three O-Lineman in the 1st Round and all of them have multiple All Pro status next to their names. In fact Going back to 2010 When Mcclay Joined the Front Office Dallas has had 6 first round picks they spent on Offense 5 became All Pro’s and all have Pro Bowls. This includes (Dez, Tyrone Smith, Frederick, Martin, Zeke and CD Lamb). To put that in perspective the hit rate in the first round where you have one pro-bowl is about 38%. Dallas is at 100% on Offense and on defense is 60% (LVE, Byron Jones & Parson have pro-bowls – Claiborne & Taco do not).

    So lets look at the pick. This is Travis Frederick all over again. The Draft Experts who don’t work for a team passed this guy, but Dallas saw a top Tackle who fits what they are trying to do…he is a little more raw and also played for a smaller school, but his traits are off the chart. Interesting note but his coach noted that some of those penalties were him blowing away people but ended up as bad calls as the ref sees the guy fall down and throws the flags. Jerry and Stephen noted the same thing. Offensive lineman get penalized for two reasons….Bad Technique (correctable), Discipline (correctable) or getting overpowered. The latter is why Connor Williams is no longer with the team. Also this guy, with Martin on the other side are going to blow some holes in the middle of the line…Zeke’s numbers started to decline when they moved Connor Williams inside and La’el Collins outside (when they lost Frederic it got even worse). Getting that blast in the middle is what has been missing.

    Dallas needed Offensive line help and this was the highest guy on the board. Whether the team team that said after Jerry didn’t trade that they would have taken his guy is lying or not remains to be seen. Given the reach by NE, I doubt Tyler Smith gets passed Bellichek.

    As for the rest of the draft. I would have liked Dean, but I like Sam “De” Williams better. This is an SEC LB that was awesome against the best talent in college football. His problems don’t appear to be as bad as people make them (charges dropped). Lawrence, Williams, Fowler and Armstrong will give Dan Quinn a lot to work with outside. Ridgeway joining with Gallimore and Osa and Bohanna gives Quinn a lot inside. LB Dallas stuck with LVE for another year and LVE, Parson and Cox are going to be great. Next year they have Clarke to slide into LVE’s spot.

    Offensively Tolbert along side CD Lamb and Gallup will make Dallas forget Cooper, The TE they drafted will be a Solid TE-2 and will see how well Dallas can turn the physical speciman into a good Tackle pushing Steele for playing time.

  3. My biggest problem with the draft this year is with our first and second round picks. I hope that Smith turns into our next LT, but dang it I feel like we could have gotten this guy in the second round or later and would have much rather they had taken Jermaine Johnson out of FSU. Sam Williams looks like a great player, but continues the Cowboys tradition of spending their second round pick on guys who have slipped out of the first round due to injury ir character issues. This strategy has not served the Boys well in recent years. Damone Clark later in the draft was a much better risk. We need our first and second round players to be immediate impact guys who regularly earn their second contracts. I certainly hope Tolbert comes close to replacing Cedric Wilson’s production. If he does his third round selection will be worth it. A lot of trust being placed on the coaching staff to coach some of the project picks up.

    • According to a few sources, the Cowboys were told by a team that it’s a good thing they didn’t accept their proposed trade because Smith was who they were trading up to get. But, as always, those sources probably got their info from Jerry, which means it should be taken with a (un)healthy dose of salt.

      Wasn’t a fan of taking a guy with baggage in the 2nd, but that’s what they normally do. So, I guess we’d better just get used to it.

      I’m beginning to think that the team is hoping Waletzko develops quickly at LT, so they can either keep Smith at LG or move him to RT if Steele stumbles and Ball doesn’t develop. Waletzko has better traits as a LT than Smith does. It’ll be interesting to see what our OL looks like two years from now.

    • Definitely should have taken Johnson & then if not Smith, they could have picked a
      slew of as good or better lineman at 56. Hopefully Tolbert will be a good choice, only
      time will tell.

  4. If it makes you feel any better, substitute S Markquese Bell for DaRon Bland in the 5th. Bell was a 30 visit guy, was projected as a 5th-6th rounder on many boards, and was either one of the “best available” or “best fit” on some draft trackers from the 5th on. They got lucky to get him as an UDFA, but he could have been one of their 5th rounders and not many would have complained.

    I wouldn’t have given the Damone Clark pick an A+. Yes, it “could” become an A+ pick, if he returns to health and if he returns to his former level of play. Too many “if’s” for me to give that high of a grade, especially with something as tricky as a back injury at a position as physical and high impact as LB.

    I’ll take Jake Ferguson at TE every day over Isaiah Likely. You don’t last as a TE at Wisconsin without being a good blocker. Likely is an oversized receiver without the strength or skills to be an effective inline blocker. He blocks well against DB’s down the field, but edge rushers and LB’s eat him alive. Isn’t that what the knock was on Jarwin and Schultz? I’ll take the TE that doesn’t tip our hand every time he’s on the field.

  5. Well I them going with the cb as great move because Bossman Fat situation plus dude can play. Plus I sure we have a cb that will be a free agent next off maybe right or wrong that. Now lbers. One guy probably want play this season but gonna be a baller in 2023 , the other Rookie is nice too. Plus he be insurance if for some reason LVE not playing well or get injured. They use there head in this draft and same for undrafted free agent as well. Looking for a very good season. Can’t wait until camp get here

    • Tyler Linderbaum should have been drafted ahead of Tyler Smith. I think Smith would have been there in the second round. Linderbaum, is going to be a great Center!! We needed that as well. I do not understand the pick.

      • Linderbaum is not the kind of player Dallas likes. They want bigger guys and Linderbaum is too small for them and lacked versatility. Good player, but I knew they were not going there. Dallas not willing to have a guy under 300lbs at center. Not the way Dallas has gone with its O-Line. Football is about systems and he wasn’t a good fit.

Cowboys Draft Oklahoma State LB Devin Harper with Pick 193

Cowboys Draft Oklahoma State LB Devin Harper with Pick 193

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