Dallas Cowboys Draft USC OT Tyron Smith No. 9 Overall
After a crazy eight picks to start the 2011 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys chose USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith. I had Smith rated No. 6 overall on my Big Board, so I am obviously thrilled with the selection. Smith will come in and immediately replace Marc Colombo, whose time in Dallas is all but over.
Below is my initial scouting report on Smith. Keep in mind I completed this months ago, but the majority of it is still true.
At only 285 pounds, Tyron Smith is incredibly light on his feet. He slides laterally with ease and has absolutely no problem with speed rushers. He’s one of the more athletic offensive tackles I’ve seen in awhile. He reminds me a ton of USC’s top offensive tackle a year ago: Charles Brown (scouting report here). Smith is actually 10 pounds lighter than Brown.
Like Brown, Smith could get overpowered in the NFL. With Doug Free on the left side for Dallas, Smith’s lack of strength could become an even bigger issue if he would be moved to the right side.
Unlike Brown, however, Smith nearly always uses great technique in pass protection. Take a look at his play against Cameron Jordan & Co. below (by the way, he’s at right tackle). . .
Smith utilizes a solid base and quick feet to succeed. The game above was an up-and-down one for Smith, as he was able to neutralize Jordan at times but got exposed at others. Take a look at the 1:55 mark when Jordan simply tosses Smith to the ground. With a frame that can and will add bulk, however, I don’t see Smith’s lack of current size as a huge issue.
Others will since, on paper, Smith is the exact opposite of what the Cowboys traditionally look for in an offensive tackle. He’s undersized and played in a zone-blocking scheme at USC. There’s a fine line between drafting players who fit your scheme and selecting the best player available and tailoring the system around his skill set. I think the best teams implement both tactics.
Smith will excel on screens, counters, and so on at the next level because of his athleticism. Jason Garrett usually runs lead dives in short-yardage situations and rarely calls power plays behind tackle anyway, so perhaps now is the time to make a switch to the new breed of linemen. Plus, Smith has right tackle experience.
So one of my only concerns with Smith was his size. Well, he bulked up considerably since the end of the season. He’s now somewhere in the 310 pound range, which is absolutely fine with me. Since adding some weight, Smith has shown he’s still as agile as before. His presence will undoubtedly allow the Cowboys to run more “finesse” plays to the right side, like screens and counters.
Plus, Smith has experience at right tackle but left tackle versatility. This will allow the Cowboys to play him on the right side in 2011, but gives the team some options in the event that they cannot sign Doug Free to a long-term deal. Let’s also not forget that Dallas likes second-year player Sam Young, but he is a right tackle only. Since Smith can play either side of the line, he can be a “starting swing tackle” in 2011, meaning he starts at right tackle but moves to the left side in the event for an injury to Free. Thus, he will become both a starter and an immediate backup, allowing the Cowboys to keep their best players on the field at their most natural positions.
And oh yeah, he is only 20 years old. Now let’s hope Baylor nose tackle Phil Taylor falls into the second round.