Dallas Cowboys Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

DeMarvion Overshown, OLB, Texas – Round 3
The Cowboys have taken some talented linebackers in the mid-rounds in each of the past three drafts. Dallas landed good values in Damone Clark and Jabrill Cox in previous years, and continued that trend with Overshown in 2023. The team re-signed Leighton Vander Esch to a cheap contract that could prove to be a 1-year deal. After some development, I think the 6-foot-3, 229-pound Overshown will emerge as a solid starter.

Overshown is a linebacker who has serious coverage potential, and given the passing-drive NFL, his talents were in demand and had plenty of teams hoping to land him. He is a talented zone-coverage defender with good instincts that lead him to glide around the field, and he does an excellent job of reading routes while spying the eyes of the quarterback to disrupt passing lanes. Overshown’s background as a safety can be seen with his natural ability to cover in the middle of the field. There is no doubt that Overshown is extremely fast and has sideline-to-sideline speed.

With his length, speed and athleticism, he has man-coverage potential on tight ends. It would be wise to give him some practice reps and coaching before putting him in man-to-man on NFL tight ends, but after a while, he could be a useful weapon to help neutralize receiving tight ends.

Overshown also brings added value as a blitzer. He had a burst to eat up ground and can be a hard charger who dodges blockers while flying to the quarterback. Overshown may not blitz a lot in the NFL because of his coverage skills, but when he does blitz, he could be effective at harassing the signal-caller.

As a run defender, Overshown is a solid. He showed an improved ability to take on blocks in 2022 and was stronger. Still, Overshown will need to improve at taking on and shedding blocks at the pro level, but he has the potential to do that. Overshown does a good job of closing ground in pursuit and working his way through trash. His tackling isn’t bad, but he could stand to be coached up at the pro level.

The Cowboys could have a talented trio in the years to come with Overshown, Clark and Cox. After a year of development, I think Overshown will take over as a starter and turn into a solid pro for Dallas.

2022: Jalen Tolbert, WR
2021: Micah Parsons, LB
2020: Trevon Diggs, CB
2019: Connor McGovern, G
2018: Leighton Vander Esch, LB
2017: Jourdan Lewis, CB
2016: Ezekiel Elliott, RB
2015: Chazz Green, OT
2014: Zack Martin, G
2013: Travis Frederick, C

Most Likely To Bust

Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan – Round 2
The Cowboys let Dalton Schultz in leave in free agency this offseason and have Jake Ferguson slated to take over him. Behind Ferguson, Dallas needed some depth and opted to take Schoonmaker in the second round. Schoonmaker was an odd second-round choice because he is a blocking tight end who lacks the receiving talent to serve as a three-down starter in the NFL. Taking a blocking tight end in Round 2 is not a good value, and there were better tight end prospects available, such as Tucker Kraft and Darnell Washington. It would not surprise me if Schoonmaker ends up being a disappointment for Dallas as a second-rounder.

2022: Sam Williams, DE
2021: Nashon Wright, CB
2020: Tyler Biadasz, C
2019: Michael Jackson, CB
2018: Connor Williams, OT
2017: Chidobe Awuzie, CB
2016: Dak Prescott, QB
2015: Randy Gregory, DE
2014: Anthony Hitchens, LB
2013: Gavin Escobar, TE

Potential Boom Pick

I thought the Cowboys had the worst 2023 NFL Draft in the league and do not see a boom-pick potential player for them. Dallas made a very questionable selection with Mazi Smith at pick No. 26. As a heavy run-stuffing nose tackle who lacks interior pass-rush ability, Smith does not have a role in the sub package, and that will lead to him being out of the game a good amount. Teams play the sub 70 percent or more of their snaps, and sometimes they play entire games in sub. Using a first-round pick on a part-time player was a very odd selection by Dallas. There were other good nose tackles who could have been had on Day 2, and given his limited role, Smith probably should have joined those defenders on the second night of the draft.

Tight end Luke Schoonmaker was a similar choice in the second round, as he is a blocking tight end who lacks the talent of a three-down starter. Third-round pick DeMarvion Overshown might have the best shot at becoming a three-down starter among Dallas’ picks from Days 1 and 2, but he also has issues with size and taking on blocks. On the third day of the draft, most of Dallas’ picks look like throwaways, with the exception of Deuce Vaughn. I loved Vaughn, but he is probably more of a situational receiving back rather than a starter. I was tempted to name Vaughn as a boom pick, but with this Cowboys draft class, I really did not see a player with boom-pick potential.

2022: Tyler Smith, CB
2021: Kelvin Joseph, CB
2020: CeeDee Lamb, WR
2019: Trysten Hill, DT
2018: Dorance Armstrong, DE
2017: Taco Charlton, DE
2016: Jaylon Smith, LB
2015: Byron Jones, S
2014: DeMarcus Lawrence, DE
2013: Terrance Williams, WR

Future Depth Player

Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State – Round 6
I think the Cowboys got a steal in Vaughn, who was one of my favorite value picks after the early rounds. As a runner, Vaughn is an underrated weapon for the next level. He has football running through his blood having grown up as the son of a coach and Dallas Cowboys scout, and Vaughn demonstrates tremendous instincts and natural feel. He seems like he is a step ahead of the defense and has great anticipation. Vaughn is a slashing back who is real threat to rip off a big gain anytime he touches the ball. Vaughn has a first-step burst and accelerates through the hole with a second gear to explode downfield for long gains. Once Vaughn breaks into the open field, he has the speed to run away from the defense, and that was given proof when he smoked the Crimson Tide defenders at the end of the 2022 season.

What makes Vaughn deadly is his incredible elusiveness. Vaughn has tremendous juke, stop-start, cut back, and natural instincts to dodge tacklers in the open field. Vaughn shows rare elusiveness and change-of-direction skills. While he is small, when Vaughn is running behind the line, his size can work to his advantage because defenders have a hard time spotting him. That camouflage makes him dangerous on cut backs as defenders can be late to redirect.

Vaughn is a valuable contributor to the passing game, and that was given clear proof with his 91 receptions over the past two seasons. He is an excellent route-runner out of the backfield, and his shiftiness is very difficult to defend in the open field. Vaughn’s cutting ability and sudden bursts create separation from linebackers along with gaining yards after the catch. Vaughn is dangerous in space once he gets the ball in his hands as he weaves through defenders with his elusiveness. In the NFL, Vaughn should be a real weapon for the passing game on wheel routes, screens, and check downs. Vaughn is very small, but he is a football player who blocks a lot better than one would expect.

The 5-foot-6, 176-pound Vaughn lacks the size to be a three-down starter in the pros. For the NFL, he will have to be a backup change-of-pace runner, but he could be a dynamic weapon who overachieves and takes on a bigger role than anybody expects. Vaughn is just a pure football player who plays with real heart. With his speed and devastating elusiveness, he could be a dynamic No. 2 back and receiving weapon out of the backfield for Dallas.

2022: Jake Ferguson, TE
2021: Jabril Cox, LB
2020: Bradley Anae, DE
2019: Tony Pollard, RB
2018: Michael Gallup, WR
2017: Ryan Switzer, WR
2016: Charles Tapper, DE
2015: Damien Wilson, LB
2014: Ben Gardner, DE
2013: Joseph Randle, RB

Walt’s 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

26. Mazi Smith, DT, Michigan – C- Grade
With Nolan Smith and Michael Mayer available!? I don’t like this pick very much. Run-stopping defensive tackles tend to go later than expected, but Jerry Jones apparently didn’t get the memo. Smith will help stop the run, but the NFL is now a passing league. This selection would have been good if it were made in 1995, but it’s not 1995 anymore.

58. Luke Schoonmaker, TE, Michigan – C+ Grade
The Cowboys are paying the price for passing on the talented tight end at the end of the first round. All of the second-round tight ends were off the board, so the Cowboys had to settle for a lesser prospect at the position. This is an OK choice, but it seems like Dallas’ draft could have gone much better.

90. DeMarvion Overshown, LB, Texas – A- Grade
DeMarvion Overshown flew all over the field at Texas. I think he could have gone a bit earlier than this, so I like the pick. Dallas needed a linebacker with Leighton Vander Esch’s troublesome neck, so I’m a fan of this pick.

129. Villami Fehoko, DE, San Jose State – B Grade
The Cowboys made a big mistake by passing on Nolan Smith and allowing him to fall to the Eagles, but they eventually got the additional edge rusher they were looking for. Villami Fehoko made nice improvements throughout his career at San Jose State.

169. Asim Richards, OT, North Carolina – C Grade
The Cowboys needed some offensive line depth, so Asim Richards is a logical pick from that perspective. However, I never had him in any of my mock drafts. He’s limited as an athlete, so I don’t think the upside is there.

178. Eric Scott, CB, Southern Miss – C Grade
Eric Scott was a very fringle draftable prospect, so I’m not a huge fan of him in the sixth round. He’ll probably be limited to slot duties in the NFL, so this isn’t a very good pick.

212. Deuce Vaughn, RB, Kansas State – A- Grade
I don’t like this as a match for Tony Pollard, as Deuce Vaughn is a smaller, albeit explosive back. However, he’s a great value pick here toward the end of the sixth round, as I thought Vaughn could have easily gone in the fourth frame.

244. Jalen Brooks, WR, South Carolina – C+ Grade
Jalen Brooks is a receiver with speed concerns and poor hands. He’s a good route runner, but there are plenty of holes in his game.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: D. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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