In the days leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft, football fans would have needed luck or a knowledge of the internet’s most unknown corners to stumble across a mock draft that didn’t feature the Dallas Cowboys selecting a receiver or a pass-rusher.
Well, shows what we knew.
Dallas not only surprised many by selecting an offensive lineman, but the Cowboys picked Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith over Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum, who was widely considered the superior prospect. Although the 6-foot-5, 324-pound Smith only started two seasons at Tulsa, he earned All-AAC honors both years and consistently impressed as a run-blocker.
The immediate aftermath of the draft is the perfect time to question every selection, even those which occur late in the seventh round. In a recent appearance on Mike Florio’s PFT PM podcast, Cowboys executive Stephen Jones acknowledged the concerns regarding the Cowboys’ investment in Smith, who will play his entire rookie season at 21 years old.
However, Jones is trying to stay optimistic, and he believes Smith’s upside is “tremendous.”
“We just feel like his skill set really lends to him having an opportunity to be a top, top left tackle at some point. Obviously, we got one of the best in the business for him to learn from in Tyron Smith. Certainly, Tyler Smith will get an opportunity to hit the field at some other spots as well. He’ll compete on that left side, left guard, left tackle.”Stephen Jones
As for why the Cowboys selected Smith over Linderbaum, the reigning Rimington Award (best center) winner, Jones said the decision involved versatility. Although Linderbaum only projects as an interior lineman in the NFL and is expected to begin next season as the Baltimore Ravens’ starting center, Smith can play outside or inside.
Though the Cowboys have not officially confirmed where Smith will play as a rookie, Jones’ comments indicate the Tulsa product will compete for the vacant left guard position. Connor Williams, the previous left guard, signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency.
Tyler Smith’s arrival also gives the Cowboys potential for veteran left tackle Tyron Smith (no relation). Ankle injuries cost the eight-time Pro Bowler six games last year, and he missed all but two games in 2020 because of a lingering neck problem. The two-time first-team All-Pro selection has missed at least one game in each of the last six seasons.
The elder Smith, who turns 32 in December, is under contract through the end of the 2024 season.