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Tulsa’s Tyler Smith was a late riser throughout the draft process, and rumors began to swirl earlier in the week that Smith could be in the mix for the Cowboys in Round 1. The smoke was followed by fire, and Smith was the eventual choice for the Cowboys.
Evaluations on Smith can vary quite a bit depending on the analyst, so how did the Cowboys do by grabbing the 21-year old with No. 24 overall? The grades are in, and the majority of major outlets gave the Cowboys a positive score for the pick.
By all accounts Smith’s technique needs refinement, and he could easily have a steep learning curve in the NFL, but he has building blocks that can’t be coached, like his size, athleticism, and strength to move defenders in the run game. Many believe his biggest weaknesses in pass protection can be potentially mitigated by a move inside to left guard, which seems to be the exact plan for Smith.
A pick that undoubtedly comes with serious risk and serious reward, only time will if Dallas made the right choice, but that doesn’t the media from grading the perceived the value on draft night. Keep reading for nine media members’ instant opinions on the Cowboys latest first-round addition.
CBS Sports: A
“This is one of my favorite picks in this draft. This kid is a mauler who will help them at right tackle right away. He needs a little help in pass protection, but the Cowboys will coach him up. Teams loved him more than analysts and his tape showed you why. This is a really good pick.”
Pro Football Focus: Good
“Smith has had a meteoric rise in recent months. Arguably the most violent offensive lineman at the Group of Five level, Smith led the nation in big-time run-blocks a season ago. His grip strength and power are a sight to see — once his hands get locked into the defender’s pads, it’s game over. The Tulsa product earned a 92.1 PFF grade that ranked fourth among FBS tackles in 2021. He was even better from Week 6 on, too, as he graded out at 94.2 over the back half of the season. Smith is going to have a steep learning curve to start, but he is young at just 21-years-old.”
Yahoo Sports: C
“The Cowboys need to start figuring out their offensive line and they took a step here. Smith had a medical condition years ago but overcame it and was found to be fine by NFL doctors. So, Dallas goes for the Tulsa tackle and has to hope he can step in and fill in the gap left by La’el Collins’ exit— and age that is creeping up on the Cowboys’ overall O-line.”
Sporting News: B
“The Cowboys took a late-rising player vs. a faller in Jermaine Johnson to help them on the edge pass rusher. Dallas was desperate for offensive line help after moving on from Connor Williams and La’el Collins. Smith helped his stock by convincing teams he could be a durable rock and also hold up outside at right tackle, the best bet for where he’ll play opposite Tyron Smith. Jerry Jones’ move makes sense given the Cowboys are trying to be in win big now mode around Dak Prescott.”
Pro Football Network: D-
“In what could only be considered a big reach, the Dallas Cowboys saw the depleted tackle class through the first half of Round 1 and still decided to pull the trigger on Tyler Smith. With a lack of top-end strength and questionable anchoring ability, Smith presents one of the first round’s biggest reaches.”
The Ringer: B+
“The Cowboys are shooting for upside with this pick, and Smith brings a ton of it. He’s still raw in his technique, often lunging or shooting his hands wide, but he’s got a massive frame, immense strength, and engulfs opponents in the run game. He has the skill set and demeanor to start on the interior but could develop into a blindside protector (and Tyron Smith replacement) in time.”
The Athletic: C+
“Smith (6-foot-5, 324 with 34-inch arms) started 23 games at left tackle. He performed well as a run blocker and gave up just two sacks in more than 800 pass-blocking snaps.
Smith plays with a nasty streak and probably has the versatility to slide inside to guard. He is not a finished product and could experience some growing pains as a rookie. Brugler called Smith “incredibly raw” and had him ranked 50th on his big board.
There’s no denying Smith’s upside, but this feels like a bit of a reach.”
Sports Illustrated: B+
“La’el Collins and Connor Williams are no longer on the roster, and Tyron Smith and Zack Martin are both on the wrong side of 30, so it makes sense to invest in the offensive line. Smith is a young prospect—turned 21 earlier this month—and has started the past two-plus seasons at left tackle for Tulsa. While he has the athleticism and length (34″ arms) to stick outside, a move inside would allow him to clean up some technical issues. Smith has tremendous power and the bully mentality to be a dominant run blocker and offers plenty of upside. Jermaine Johnson, my 11th-ranked prospect, would have been a much better value here, though.”
Bleacher Report: C-
“Of all the places for Smith to land, Dallas is arguably the best possible situation. But no one can deny he still needs significant work for his performance to match his potential.
Smith likely moves inside to guard as a replacement for Connor Williams. The chance to play alongside Tyron Smith should be a boon for the rookie. Also, a shift to the interior should protect the younger Smith, who’s a technical mess.
The Cowboys’ have had a strong offensive front in recent years, but it has been on a bit of a decline. The 21-year-old adds significant talent. He’s also a major work-in-progress whose deficiencies may outweigh his strengths at first while he learns on the job.”