Tyler Smith’s future unavoidably linked to Cowboys 1st round draft pick

Tyler Smith is one of the most exciting young players on the Cowboys roster. The 2022 first rounder earned a Pro Bowl selection in just his second season as a pro and appears well on his way to All-Pro status in the not-too-distant future.

The 22-year-old lineman from Tulsa has become a cornerstone for Dallas, presumably serving as a generational bridge, as the greats ride off into the sunset and new blood assumes key roles within the trenches. Blessed with unteachable size, strength and athletic ability, Smith is on a trajectory to possibly be the best LG in the game, assuming he’s allowed to stay the course.

Recent statements made by Cowboys executive vice president and director of player personnel, Stephen Jones, indicate LG may not be Smith’s final spot. Smith was a left tackle in college and after injuries knocked Tyron Smith out for most of 2022, Tyler Smith played primarily LT as a rookie as well. His ability to play either position was one of the reasons the Cowboys drafted him. It’s a status the front office has mentioned on numerous occasions. And it’s that position flex which Jones appears to be embracing again in Year 3.

With reports indicating Tyron Smith is done in Dallas, a Cadillac-sized hole now opens at LT. Since protecting the QB’s blindside is generally Job 1 of any offensive line, Tyler Smith is likely under consideration for the role, even if it means vacating his All-Pro trajectory at LG.

The Cowboys saw what happened when a replacement level player took over for Tyron Smith at LT last season. They can’t afford to roll into 2024 with the same scenario playing out, especially since Terence Steele at RT has his own concerns in pass protection.

There’s no realistic shortcut to filling the LT role in the NFL. Most of the NFL’s better LTs come with first-round pedigree or years of seasoning (often both). It leaves the Cowboys with a dilemma on their hands. Do they move Tyler Smith to LT or do they use a first-round pick to fill the need at LT and hope his pedigree makes him a plug-and-play solution on a team with championship aspirations?

What the Cowboys want to do with Smith will likely influence their decision in the draft. Just like what they can actually accomplish in the draft will impact what they do with Smith. Both entities are linked because there’s a good chance only one or the other will solve the problem at LT.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire