The Dallas Cowboys are gearing up for another run at the playoffs, and several new faces have joined the team in its campaign.
The offense saw the most turnover between the 2021 season and this upcoming year, as long-time wide receiver Amari Cooper and tackle La’el Collins were both big names to depart Dallas.
Meanwhile, the team added the likes of Jalen Tolbert in the 2022 NFL draft and James Washington to replace Cooper. To address Collins’ departure, Dallas drafted Tyler Smith with the No. 24 pick in this year’s draft.
Smith has a lot of exciting qualities, including his athleticism that should allow him to play on the interior and exterior of the offensive line. However, Bleacher Report analyst Maurice Moton is writing that Smith could be a major disappointment.
“Cowboys fans should be particularly careful with early evaluations of Smith because he’s going to transition from being a collegiate tackle at Tulsa to a guard in his first year at the pro level,” Moton wrote. “Smith may become the eventual replacement for left tackle Tyron Smith, but the Cowboys inserted him in a competition with Connor McGovern at left guard following the departure of Connor Williams. For the rookie, a shift from the perimeter to the interior could come with growing pains in regular-season action.”
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Smith Coming into NFL
There was one thing very clear about Smith during his time at Tulsa: strength. Smith utilized his power often, and it was able to mask some of the technical shortcomings that prevented him from being a top 10 pick in this year’s draft.
Smith was not a four-year starter, but he is coming off two seasons with the Golden Hurricanes in which he started each game he was available. Save for an absence due to suspension, Smith started 21 games over the past two years.
NFL.com’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein broke down that Smith has a serious advantage with strength, but that he needs to level up his game around it.
“Power merchant who plays the game with a field demeanor that can work in his favor on one play and against him on the next snap,” Zierlein wrote. “Smith is able to displace defenders as a run blocker despite lacking proper hand usage for leverage. He’s explosive and athletic but struggles to sustain and finish what he starts.”
Cowboys Have Obvious Reasons for Optimism
While Moton has written that Cowboys fans need to prepare for a potentially disappointing season from Smith, DallasCowboys.com writer David Helman feels differently.
It’s extremely early in Smith’s NFL career, and he hasn’t really stepped out of line. It’s only been OTAs, but Helman thinks that Smith has looked the part so far.
“He looks like he belongs, there’s no doubt,” Helman wrote. “But as Rob [Phillips] also mentioned, let’s not lose our minds about two OTAs. Things are going to change severely when the pads go on — and then again when he starts going against guys like Vita Vea, Javon Hargrave and Aaron Donald. But yes, so far, I’m very impressed with Tyler Smith.”
Helman has likely seen more of Smith than anyone in the local media, so it’s worth taking his word. But it’s also worth noting the caution he mentions, as Smith will be unproven until the Cowboys’ regular season begins in earnest.