The Dallas Cowboys had a decision to make in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft. While the Cowboys eventually went with Mazi Smith as the 26th overall pick in the draft, the team had a conversation between selecting Smith or an offensive guard on draft night.

“Personally, I would go with Mazi because I know that he helps us now,” said Will McClay, Dallas’ VP of player personnel in a behind-the-scenes video shared after the draft. “With the guard — love the guard, too — my question is you’re adding something to it where we have depth. I think the defensive lineman gives you an immediate starter and something for the future.”

“We’re better on the line of scrimmage with either one of those guys,” said head coach Mike McCarthy.

As for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, he was mainly ecstatic to have the option of both players with the pick. In the end, McClay noted getting a chance to select an elite interior defender like Smith, a chance the Cowboys have not had in recent drafts.

“We’ve had offensive linemen there, we’ve had the chance to pick them. We’ve not had a defensive lineman — interior DL — that high in quite some time,” explained McClay.

Here’s how it all went down before Dallas selected Smith:

Rookie outlook for Mazi Smith

As noted in the conversation in the video, Smith is viewed as a piece that should be able to help Dallas immediately as a rookie. Previously noted as one of the athletic freaks of the 2022 college football season, there should be little concern regarding his physique as he makes the jump to the NFL. Smith’s game should translate right away as a run-stuffer in Dan Quinn’s defense.