COMMENTARY | When Tyron Smith was drafted in 2011, there was one particular quote he said that stuck out.
"I think I have the potential to be a Pro Bowler and be a Hall of Famer," Smith said when the Dallas Cowboys selected him No. 9 overall.
Well, if there was ever a time for the third-year tackle to take that next leap and be what he said he wants to be, then 2013 might be a good starting point for the Cowboys' best offensive lineman.
It's been a tumultuous offseason for Smith, to say the least. The story of his family harassing him for money has been well-documented, and is one of the saddest stories you could ever imagine for a 22-year-old star in the making. There are tales of greed, and there are tales of greed that overstep the boundaries of what could be constituted as a tale of greed. This saga was the latter.
To an extent, it'd be unfair to ask a potential superstar, who is just a year older than me, to make those strides to become the NFL's next best offensive tackle. But if Smith can channel his aggression the right way (meaning on the field), then the sky's the limit.
The Cowboys are hoping that sky is pretty high, too.
Dallas' offensive line troubles were glaring. Tony Romo was sacked 28 times last year, and when DeMarco Murray was out with an injury, there was no running game to speak of. Most of that was Felix Jones' fault, but that's another debate for another day.
Despite the line's troubles, Smith had a terrific year only allowing three sacks from the left tackle spot. That's one sack less than the average that the top-10 left tackles gave up last year. So if you're looking for a rare offensive lineman stat to be excited about, there you have it.
Smith will also be called upon as a leader, especially on the offensive line now that the Cowboys drafted Travis Frederick at No. 31 overall in this past April's draft. With 13 of Dallas' 28 sacks given up on the interior line last year, there's a lot of pressure on Frederick to perform at center or guard. Anything that Smith says, the former Wisconsin lineman better listen.
The Pro Bowls will come in time for Smith, maybe even starting this year. There's even more pressure on that offensive line to perform now that Frederick will be in the starting lineup, and that Doug Free will be coming back at right tackle competing with Jeremy Parnell. Not to mention that the guard positions are still filled with question marks. That makes for a great playing of the speculation game.
In this day and age of young players stepping into leadership roles as rookies, Smith has had his grace period in the form of two seasons. He's now officially at that point to be truly great.
It's time for that theory to be put to the test.
Danny Webster is a featured columnist for the Dallas Cowboys. You can reach him by going on Twitter and finding @DannyWebster21.
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