Breaking Down Tyron Smith’s 2013 Season
At Bleacher Report, I took a look at Tyron Smith’s 2013 season and why I think he’s the real deal at such a young age:
Tyron Smith’s Biggest Advantage
As mentioned, there’s one really big reason—one single number—that suggests Smith is going to be one heck of a left tackle: 22, as in his age.
Although NFL experience certainly helps players to some degree, I’ve found that age is far more important in predicting their success. A 24-year-old rookie receiver will generally outperform a 22-year-old second-year receiver, for example. That’s one reason that very young rookies, like Smith, often struggle early in their careers. If they don’t, it’s a great sign.
Looking at offensive tackles in terms of approximate value, I charted historic offensive line production since 1970 using Pro Football Reference’s top 30 ranked players at the position. The numbers on the left represent “percentage of peak play.” Offensive tackles have typically peaked right around age 28, so the rest of the graph is their collective play relative to that peak season, sorted by age.
There are a few points of interest here. First, notice how long it takes offensive tackles to develop. Most positions peak before age 28, and the climb typically isn’t so gradual.
Second, note that, as a whole, offensive tackles haven’t produced even 90 percent of their peak production at any age other than 28. Nonetheless, their window for production is huge. The typical offensive tackle has produced at a high level (over 80 percent of his peak) from ages 24 to 32. That’s a long time for any player.
To give you a better idea of how well Smith has played thus far in his young career, let’s look at his approximate value versus the average approximate value of the NFL’s top 30 offensive tackles of all time.
Although Smith’s approximate value dropped slightly in his second year, it was still well above that for the average top 30 offensive tackle at age 21. Note that there’s no data for 20-year-old offensive tackles because, of the top 30 in career approximate value, none were in the NFL at age 20.
The numbers really show you how dominant Smith has been when you consider his young age. Remember, these are the numbers for the top 30 offensive tackles of all time.
Offensive tackles take a long time to develop, but we’re seeing Smith grow right before our eyes. He’s been a quality left tackle thus far in his career, showing noticeable improvement from both a film and statistical standpoint, and the numbers suggest he’s just getting started.