FRISCO – The Dallas Cowboys had several holes to fill entering the 2022 NFL Draft. You can rank the needs however you’d like, but owner Jerry Jones thinks the offensive line was the biggest.
With the offseason release of right tackle La’el Collins, who joined the Cincinnati Bengals, and the loss of left guard Connor Williams in free agency to the Miami Dolphins, the future protection of quarterback Dak Prescott became a concern.
Toss in the declining health and increasing age of current left tackle Tyron Smith, the offensive line is a huge concern for Dallas, and until recently, the Cowboys hadn’t spent a lot of first-round picks there.
From 1982 to 2010, Dallas didn’t spend any first-round picks on an offensive lineman. Starting in 2011, they’ve now taken four, beginning with Smith in 2011, Travis Frederick in 2013, Zack Martin in 2014, and on Thursday, Tulsa’s Taylor Smith.
Tyler Smith returns home close to where he played his high school ball at North Crowley High School.
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2022 NFL Draft
“I played tackle in college but I’m willing to play wherever they put me,” Smith said from his draft party a few miles from The Star in Frisco. “I’m going to take the coaching and I practice it all, so I’m comfortable wherever.”
Interestingly, Smith said his only pre-draft interaction with the Cowboys was with assistant offensive line coach Jeff Blasko during a private workout.
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“Man, I was shocked,” he said. “A lot of my coaches said there was a great chance (but) I can’t say I even dialogued with the team that much throughout the process, but like it was a shock to me. I can’t even lie. I’m more than blessed to be here. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s indescribable being able to finally come home after all this time to be able to play for America’s Team,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. I grew up watching this team.”
“Indescribable” … is a word that fits the fact he has overcome Blount’s Disease, which as a youngster left his legs bowlegged – and put him in leg braces for much of that time.
But Smith overcame Blount’s Disease to start 23 of 25 games at Tulsa and become a second-team All-AAC pick this year. One concern for fans and the team that surrounds Smith is penalties. He was the most penalized player in Division I football last season, with 16 total penalties – 12 for holding – comparable to the player he could potentially replace, Williams, who had 15 total.
“At the end of the day, the work is going to speak for itself,” Tyler Smith said. “Having these guys around me, being able to learn from those guys and play with those guys, that’s going to be huge for my development as a player. I feel like it’s nothing but a blessing in terms of what I can be.”
Smith will have some large cleats to fill, and time will tell if he was the best offensive lineman available at No. 24 as the Cowboys thought.
Welcome to Dallas, Tyler.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism