Saturday, September 30

Tyler Smith to the Cowboys: Scouting report, what to know about Dallas’ 2022 first-round draft pick

The first round of the 2022 NFL Draft is officially in the books, and it didn’t go quietly into the night, thanks in large part to the NFC East. It was the Philadelphia Eagles stealing the show away from the New York Giants — who had an electric first two grabs in defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and offensive tackle Evan Neal — when the Eagles started wheeling and dealing, grabbing defensive monster Jordan Davis and then striking a blockbuster trade deal with the Tennessee Titans to acquire wideout AJ Brown before awarding him a four-year, $100 million contract.

Even the Washington Commanders got in on the draft-day trade action, but the Dallas Cowboys decided to stand firm at 24th-overall, having found no player worth trading up for and passing on offers to move down. As it turns out, the latter was due to a player they had their eye one, specifically, and they made their affection known when they went on the clock and gave the nod to offensive tackle Tyler Smith, formerly of Tulsa.

But, who is Smith? Well, he’s one some NFL general managers had a first-round grade on, despite his name having mostly flown under the radar of the general public until very recently, and the Cowboys were one such team. He now presumably allows them to cross off one of several needs going into Day 2, but he’s not without his warts from him, while also not lacking in potential.

So let’s talk about what he brings to the table for Dallas, and what needs to improve immediately.

Three things to know:

  • Raised in Fort Worth, TX
  • Overcame Blount’s Disease as a child
  • Will begin NFL career as guard, not tackle
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Remarkable athleticism comps: Kyle Long, Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu, Charles Cross, Penei Sewell
Playing style: Mauler
Area of ​​opportunity: Hand technique (leads to holding penalties when combined with style of play)

It appeared the Cowboys were entertaining a trade back when they went on the clock with the 24th-overall pick, and actually were, later admitting there were several teams calling them with interest to move up. They listened intently, but instead stood pat and passed on more notable talent — eg, Jermaine Johnson, Nakobe Dean, Devin Lloyd and Tyler Linderbaum — going with more of a project [at starter] in Tyler Smith out of Tulsa. Smith enters during a time of tumult on the Cowboys offensive line, with continued durability issues on an aging Tyron Smith and the decision to release starting tackle La’el Collins to pass the mantle to backup swing tackle Terence Steele.

The jury is out on if Smith, who has a good ceiling, can contribute immediately or if he’ll need polish (the latter making it a debatable pick when tying him to the first round). Owner Jerry Jones noted Smith was the 16th-ranked player on their board, and there’s sentiment around the league that he would not have made it out of the first round, which explains the Cowboys decision to not trade down with potentially the hopes of selecting him later.

That said, Smith has plenty of work to do if he’s to be the heir apparent to anyone on the offensive line but, and it’s key to keep this in mind, he has the physical ability to do just that. A lot of his progress early on will fall on the lap on offensive line coach Joe Philbin, and largely in trying to get Smith to scale down the number of penalties he usually draws per game — especially on a team that has often believed themselves targeted by NFL officials on holding penalties (something head coach Mike McCarthy benched former starting left guard Connor Williams over in 2021).

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With Williams now a member of the Miami Dolphins, Smith will move from offensive tackle, where he played mostly at Tulsa, to left guard besides All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith. The younger Smith becomes the fourth offensive lineman selected by the Cowboys in the first round, and the three before him lend hope to what he himself might become: Zack Martin (2014), Travis Frederick (2013) and Tyron Smith (2011). Both Martin and Frederick were viewed by many as reaches at the time, and went on to have stellar careers, with Martin’s still ongoing and Frederick retiring only due to his battle with Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Standing just under 6-foot-5 and weighing in at a healthy 324 pounds, Smith has plenty going for him if the penalties (his only real red flag) can be reduced or eliminated. He plays with a visceral rawness that, while often getting him in trouble with officiating, also makes him a bully on the offensive line. He’s not a player opposing pass rushers enjoy dealing with on a snap-by-snap basis, and his arm length (85th percentile) combines with his wingspan (92nd percentile) to make for a very long day for defenders.

Add in his ability to pop outside for those times when Tyron Smith will presumably not be available due to injury, and you can easily see why the Cowboys valued him as a late first-round grab, which is essentially a high second-round pick – – for all intents and purposes.

“I have a lot of versatility for both [guard and tackle],” Smith told Dallas media following the selection. “I’ll work them all. … I definitely see myself as a tackle for sure, but I’m willing to move wherever I need to go to mesh with the organization or wherever I am.”

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Even more impressive for Smith is the fact he overcame the aforementioned Blount’s Disease, per NFL Network, a structural deformity in his legs as a child that effects the growth plates around his knees. When he was in middle school, doctors had to forcefully/medically break his legs from him and put them in cages to let them heal/grow properly, but several NFL teams cleared him and there are no issues expected as an adult; particularly seeing how long ago the procedure was [successfully] donate.


It’s been a long road for the Dallas-Fort Worth area native to get to where he is now, playing for his hometown team. Should he effectively absorb the teachings of the Smith to his left and Zack Martin to his non-immediate right — adding in the previous successes of Cowboys first-round offensive line selections — he’ll have a very real chance at being the added stopper needed in front of quarterback Dak Prescott following a draft that saw the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles both add some serious firepower to their pass rush.

Much like the first-round O-lineman before him, he’ll have to overcome the argument of who the Cowboys should’ve selected instead but, to be fair, once/if he learns how to refine his raw power and football anger into a more polished and penalty-free product — look out.

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