Cowboys Select ‘Explosive’ Fort Worth-Native in First Round of 2022 NFL Draft

Tyler Smith

Getty Tyler Smith of Tulsa runs a drill during the NFL Combine.

The Dallas Cowboys officially have their first addition of the 2022 NFL draft, and it’s a player who ought to make an immediate impact on offense.

However, Dallas didn’t necessarily take a player in an area of need. Instead, they went back to investing in the exterior offensive line market with the selection of Tyler Smith, offensive tackle from Tulsa.

Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken was first to report the selection on April 28.

“This is the pick: Cowboys are drafting former Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith with the No. 24 overall pick, source said,” Gehlken Tweeted late Thursday evening.

There were rumblings that Dallas could go the flashier route with the selection of a wide receiver or linebacker, but the Cowboys elected to add to the line after releasing longtime starting tackle La’el Collins earlier in the offseason.

Many mock drafts had Dallas taking an interior offensive lineman like Zion Johnson, but a tackle wasn’t a popular destination. However, it’s worth noting that the Cowboys may not view Smith as a tackle, and plan to shift him inside instead.

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Smith’s Background, Possible Role in 2022

Smith has not been a marquee name in the 2022 offseason, partially due to the fact that he’s an offensive lineman coming out of Tulsa. However, the Cowboys have probably known about Smith for a long time due to his high school career at North Crowley in Fort Worth, Texas.

Smith landed with the Golden Hurricanes after high school, initially redshirting but being put into four games later in the season. He impressed enough to start in all nine games of Tulsa’s 2020 season, and then started in all 12 games of the 2021 season.

As Gehlken mentions, Smith is a project. He didn’t play especially tough opponents, and he’s not a perfect prospect by any means, his flaws are apparent and will be noted below. He is a beast of an athlete and draft analyst Lance Zierlein sums him up as a raw player with tons of upside and a natural prospect to slide to guard.

“Smith is able to displace defenders as a run blocker despite lacking proper hand usage for leverage,” Zierlein wrote. “He’s explosive and athletic but struggles to sustain and finish what he starts… A move from tackle to guard would allow teams to feature his downhill power in the rushing attack while reducing exposure in pass protection.”

So, don’t assume the Cowboys selected a tackle to have him sit. If Dallas’ plan is to move him, he’ll be a direct competitor for left guard, with head coach Mike McCarthy having the option of Smith, Connor McGovern or even sliding McGovern to center in place of Tyler Biadasz.

What Cowboys Fans Should Be Worried About

While upside is a fun thing to talk about, it’s just what could happen, not what’s going to. When it comes to the top 10 offensive line prospects in this draft, Smith is in the mix, but he’s also one of the most underdeveloped.

This shows in his play, especially his tendency to get flagged. ESPN reporter Ed Werder pointed out that Smith’s issues with the yellow flag makes him an unfortunate fit for the Cowboys.

“Tyler Smith was called for 12 penalties in 12 games last season, after being flagged 7 times in 14 games from 2019-20,” Werder Tweeted. “His 12 flags were the 3rd most in the FBS among offensive linemen. Cowboys OL flagged a league-high 49 times last season.”

Dallas needs to tighten up across the board, but they now have to worry about another potential penalty machine in Smith.

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