The Dallas Cowboys have big plans for their first-round draft pick Mazi Smith. He’s a huge weapon for the defensive line to stop the run, but his game could be more than that. At rookie minicamp on Friday, Smith told reporters that he believes he has even more to offer than what was on film at Michigan.
“Ain’t seen nothing,” Smith said, via Jon Machota. “Ain’t seen nothing yet.”
“A lot of people talk about my pass rush in college, but I never had a pass-rush plan, so we’re gonna get a plan and see what I can do,” Smith continued. “I was a run-stopper. If we were going to win the game, I was gonna have to stop the run. And that’s what I focused on. That’s what I’m still focused on. But in practice, you just get better. … I wanted to win games and win the Big Ten championship. I knew if we were gonna do that, we were gonna have to stop the run.”
During his time at Michigan, Smith accumulated 28 starts in 35 games. He earned All-Big Ten selection twice, and notched 48 tackles, 2.5 for loss and half a sack in 2022.
Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay was one of the voting voices in the war room advocating for Smith over an offensive lineman. In behind-the-scenes footage, McClay argues that the defensive tackle is an “immediate starter.”
“Personally, I would go with Mazi because I know that he helps us now,” McClay said. “With the guard, my question is… you’re adding something to it where we have depth. For the defensive line, that gives you an immediate starter, and something for the future.
“We’ve had offensive linemen there, we haven’t had an interior defensive lineman that high in quite some time.”
Smith signs four-year deal with Cowboys
The Cowboys inked all eight of their 2023 NFL Draft picks on Thursday ahead of the 2023 schedule release. Contract figures for first-round selection Mazi Smith are now out, revealing the former Michigan defender will receive $13.274 million over four years.
Smith’s deal includes $6.654 million in signing bonus money, dropping his 2023 base salary to $750,000. Following the 2023 season, his salary figures are $1.353 million for 2024, $1.956 million for 2025 and $2.560 million for 2026.
All of the money in Smith’s rookie contract is fully guaranteed. Also, Like all first-round draft picks, Smith’s contract has an additional fifth-year option that the Cowboys can choose to pick up by the 2025 offseason. Adding the fifth year would keep the talented defensive lineman in Dallas through the 2027 season.
Last year, the Cowboys inked first-round selection Tyler Smith to a four-year deal worth $13.389 million, just slightly more than Mazi Smith’s total. The offensive lineman went two spots higher than the defensive tackle, which explains the difference in salary.
With his new deal, Mazi Smith becomes the 25th highest-paid player on the Cowboys roster. He has the chance to start right away for Dallas in 2023 as a flexible tackle that also rushes the quarterback.