I recently completed my 2010 Offensive Line Grades for Dallas, and the results weren’t pretty. Although I do think Doug Free is the most talented lineman on the team, Kyle Kosier ended up with the highest grade. Still, it was only a “B” (86.2 percent).
Marc Colombo’s 63 percent, however, was the worst grade I ever gave a player. If the Cowboys don’t upgrade the right tackle spot this offseason, they deserve another playoff absence in 2011. Colombo yielded a ridiculous nine sacks, 11 quarterback hits and 40 pressures in 2010.
I already dissected the game of Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder and Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi. Both of those players are “prototypical” Dallas Cowboys linemen. Today’s feature, in my opinion, represents the offensive tackle of the future.
At only 285 pounds, Tyron Smith is incredibly light on his feet. He slides laterally with ease and has absolutely no problem with speed rushers. He’s one of the more athletic offensive tackles I’ve seen in a while. He reminds me a ton of USC’s top offensive tackle a year ago, Charles Brown (scouting report here). Smith is actually 10 pounds lighter than Brown.
Like Brown, Smith could get overpowered in the NFL. With Doug Free on the left side for Dallas, Smith’s lack of strength could become an even bigger issue if he would be moved to the right side.
Unlike Brown, however, Smith nearly always uses great technique in pass protection. Take a look at his play against Cameron Jordan & Co. below (by the way, he’s at right tackle)...
Smith utilizes a solid base and quick feet to succeed. The game above was an up-and-down one for Smith, as he was able to neutralize Jordan at times but got exposed at others. Take a look at the 1:55 mark, when Jordan simply tosses Smith to the ground. With a frame that can and will add bulk, however, I don’t see Smith’s lack of current size as a huge issue.
Others will, since, on paper, Smith is the exact opposite of what the Cowboys traditionally look for in an offensive tackle. He’s undersized and played in a zone-blocking scheme at USC. There’s a fine line between drafting players who fit your scheme and selecting the best player available and tailoring the system around his skill set. I think the best teams implement both tactics.
Smith will excel on screens, counters and so on at the next level because of his athleticism. Jason Garrett usually runs lead dives in short-yardage situations and rarely calls power plays behind tackle anyway, so perhaps now is the time to make a switch to the new breed of linemen. Plus, Smith has right tackle experience.
Because of his pass protection ability, I think Smith will rise up some boards. He’s likely to be a top-25 pick because some team will see a dominant left tackle in him.
For Dallas, Smith would have to play right tackle. Because of that, and the fact that he’s not dominant in any aspect of tackle play, I don’t think he’s good value anywhere in the top 15.
Don’t get me wrong—I really like Smith’s potential. If the ‘Boys could slide down to the late teens or early 20s, I think they should at least take a look at a player who doesn’t necessarily fit what they already do in Big D, but rather what they should do.
Other Potential Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011