Cowboys $13 Million Player Predicted to Begin Season on Bench 

The Dallas Cowboys selected defensive tackle Mazi Smith with the No. 26 overall selection in the 2023 NFL draft but fans may need to temper expectations for the former Michigan standout. 

The Athletic’s Saad Yousuf and Jon Machota reported that Smith is not expected to start but should be a key part of the team’s defensive line rotation.

“The expectations are always high with a first-round pick. Dallas drafted Smith to help shut down the run but also provide pass rush up the middle,”

Yousuf and Machota wrote on September 4, 2023. “He’s not ready to start yet, but the plan is for him to be a factor in their DT rotation.”

Smith signed a four-year, $13.2 million rookie contract and has a $750,000 base salary for 2023. The Cowboys are expected to lean on veteran Johnathan Hankins

at defensive tackle who the team traded for at last season’s deadline. Dallas re-signed the veteran to a one-year, $1.3 million deal this offseason.

In an ideal world, Smith would have thrived in training camp and forced his way into the starting rotation. It is not that Smith struggled during the preseason,

but there were times when the rookie did not make his presence felt when on the field. Analyst Voch Lombardi is attempting to calm the Cowboys 

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