I was fully on-board the Tyron Smith bandwagon until a few days ago. I loved what I was hearing from Bunting, Raf, Chia and others. I hadn't really watched any film, but I heard he looked good, and he had the physical attributes of a dominant player (long arms, great athlete). However, I read the following profile, which had some good clips in it:
The clips didn't look that great to me. I stepped back and thought, how would you summarize the two players?
1) A 20 year old physical phenom at USC who has played well at times, not so well at other times. Played light in college.
2) A 4 year starter (49 starts) at Wisconsin who has proved himself against the top defensive ends in the country. Extremely strong run blocker. Might have some trouble with speed rushers in the NFL.
Since I don't know either guy personally, I'm using a school stereotype. USC has had a lot of disappointing players in the league, mostly due to lack of work ethic and being pampered prima donnas in LA. Wisconsin has a great run of olinemen in the league that are generally considered to have great technique and toughness.
When I think about the floor/ceiling of each player, here's what I can imagine (barring major injury):
Smith/Floor - Too immature to handle the fame/pay of pro football. Had an easy life at USC and can't adjust to the rigors of the pros. Tries to rely on his physical talent too much. Think Alex Barron.
Smith/Ceiling - One of the top linemen in the league, could have a 15 year career. Could end up the most physically gifted player at tackle in the NFL. Think Walter Jones.
Carimi/Floor - Hardnosed guy the struggles with athletic pass rushers. Good run blocker. Think Marc Colombo of two years ago.
Carimi/Ceiling - One of the best RTs in the league who dominates as a run blocker. Think Jumbo Elliott or maybe even Erik Williams.
I can see Smith developing into a great linemen, but I can also see a story where he doesn't work hard enough or isn't tough enough and flames out. Jacob Rogers part 2. There are a lot of ifs with Smith. Can he play with better power at a higher weight? Can he continue to improve his game after he gets paid? Can he handle the pressure of being a top ten pick for the Dallas Cowboys and having to start right away (at 20 years old)? I don't see that with Carimi. He's got a ton of experience and he's handled some of the best linemen in the country. He's from a great school for olinemen. He started for four years! When you add in that we can probably get at least another 2nd and 3rd rd pick by going with Carimi, it seems like a no brainer.
This team is ready to win now. I think our window with Romo, Witten, Ware and Ratliff is another 3-4 years. Our offense is full of superstars, what we need at RT is a good solid player. I'm not agreeing with the story I've heard about how we wouldn't draft Smith because you don't need such a talented player at RT. I'd be all for a superstar at RT - I think it gives us some options at LT, plus Felix is a great sweep/screen guy, which fits well with an athletic RT. The league is also moving towards needing athletes at both tackles and away from the old LT/RT profiles.
The reason I prefer Carimi is the lower bust potential and that he'd come in from day one and be a solid, tough linemen. Plus we have a lot of other needs that the extra draft picks would help with. I'd prefer the sure thing with extra picks rather than a maybe with huge upside. A bust at #9 would be devastating.
This argument is not so much for Carimi, as against Smith at #9. You could substitute Sherrod or Castonzo for Carimi and have much of the same argument. Carimi is my preferred guy though - he's one of the best run blockers I've seen and would seem to add an element of toughness to the line that we'll lose with Colombo gone.
Here would be my preferred draft scenario:
1) Robert Quinn falls to #9
2) San Diego gives us their first, second and third to jump to #9 - we are at #18
Scenario 1, Jordan or Watt is available at #18
If Cam Jordan or Watt is there at 18, then you have decide how greedy you want to be. I think both of those guys are a cut above the rest at DE. I think Watt could be an absolute stud. You could pick Watt, and then use the extra picks to try and jump back into the end of the first to grab the last of Carimi, Costanzo or Sherrod. Or maybe even Danny Watkins or Ijalana. The problem is if you fail, then RT looks pretty gloomy for 2011.
Scenario 2, take Carimi at #18
I don't see Carimi going before #18, so I think you're safe. RT is solved. You now have 4 picks in the next two rounds to grab d-linemen, guards, centers, CBs and LBs. I personally think it would be kinda cool to go Ijalana, Wisniewski in the 2nd and someone like Hogan and Pinkston in the 3rd. That would basically remake our entire o-line from old and slow to young, athletic and tough in one year (although it would probably take a year to get them all on the field). Plus we'd add a young, talented CB. In 2012, here's your o-line:
Free Pinkston Wisniewski Ijalana Carimi
I'd love to hear others' thoughts on Smith. I read about it him and I can't say I'm not intrigued. His physical attributes are stunning. But between hearing nothing about his character, seeing some unflattering tape and a general bias against USC players, I'm starting to sour on him. A 20 year old at pick #9 starting for the Dallas Cowboys?