Rookie first-round pick Mazi Smith feels like he’s just scratching the surface when it comes to his potential, which is good news for the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith was a first-team All-Big Ten pick in 2022 at Michigan, collecting 48 tackles — 2.5 for loss — in 14 starts. The Cowboys selected Smith with the No. 26 overall pick in the NFL Draft and expect him to help hold down the middle of their defensive line.
Smith reported to Cowboys’ rookie minicamp on Friday with the rest of the first-year players and sent a clear message about his potential as a pro.
“Ain’t seen nothing. Ain’t seen nothing yet,” Smith told reporters.
The plan is for Smith to play a key role as a rookie alongside fellow defensive tackles Osa Odighizuwa, Neville Gallimore and veteran Jonathan Hankins, among others. Smith has a lot to learn but is just taking it a day at a time.
“It wants to be fast and furious, but I don’t play that,” Smith said. “I be telling folks, ‘Slow your roll. I’m gonna slow down, too.’ I’m just here to mind my business and get better as a player, and be the best nose, D-tackle that the Cowboys can have.”
Prior to rookie camp, Smith agreed to a four-year deal with the Cowboys worth $13.274 million, fully guaranteed. His signing bonus came in at $6.654 million, per Todd Archer of ESPN.
Cowboys Feel Mazi Smith is Great Fit for System
The Cowboys filled a significant hole on their depth chart by acquiring Smith and were fortunate they fell to him at No. 26. Head coach Mike McCarthy was beaming after the pick.
“It’s like Christmas,” McCarthy said, per the team’s official site. “When you look at all the work that goes into it, going back to his [Official] 30 visit, and just what a great fit he is for us … I just want him to be himself. He is a great fit for us.”
In college, Smith was much more of a run-stuffer, clogging up holes for the Michigan defense with his 6-foot-3, 323-pound frame. He notched just 0.5 sacks in college. That will be different under his new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
“A lot of people talk about my pass rush production in college,” Smith said Friday. “But I never had a pass rush plan [at Michigan]. So we’re going to get a plan and see what I can do. I was a run stopper and if we’re going to win the game, I was going to have to stop the run that’s what I was focused on and that’s what I’m still focused on. But in practice you just get better.”
Cowboys Star Micah Parsons Ready to Join Forces With Mazi Smith
Smith joins a Cowboys defense that is already in really good shape. The Cowboys have led the NFL in forced turnovers over the last two seasons and have an All-World player in Micah Parsons leading the way. Parson was on Bleacher Report’s live draft show when Smith was picked and had a message for him.
“I hope you’re ready to be part of the best D-line in the NFL,” Parsons said. “I’m going to help you get sacks, you’re going to help me get sacks. Let’s get this Super Bowl.”
Smith was equally complimentary of the Cowboys defense and the players he’ll play alongside of.
“I know they have a bunch of dogs,” said Smith. “I know that they value what they have up front. I know that they have stars at every level of the defense. I know that they brought me in to stop the run, and to be a big, dominant physical presence on the inside. It’s my job to be [exactly] that.”