The Cowboys offensive line was a disaster in 2020. Mainly due to injuries, the Cowboys struggled to put quality units on the field in any given week. Tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins were absent for most of the year and left the team relying on untested and low-pedigreed talent. They addressed the issue somewhat with the addition of Ty Nsekhe in free agency, but Tyrin Smith’s age and injury history is a concern for the long term. The Cowboys are likely to go looking for offensive tackle talent in the draft, and D’Ante Smith is a name to consider.
Name: D’Ante Smith
School: East Carolina
Class: RS Senior
Plus athlete with elite arm length, agility, and fluidity at the position. Feet are choppy, yet he covers a ton of ground with his strides when blocking on the move. Carries his hands well in pass protection, and he’s able to control defenders pads with powerful grip at the point of attack. Flashed dynamic versatility at the Reese’s Senior Bowl, showing dominant reps from both tackle spots and guard spots. While his frame and tape showed a lack of ideal functional strength, he showed some massive improvements in those areas in Mobile. Showcased impressive recovery skills at the position due to his athleticism, length, and long frame. Second-level blocks come easy to Smith, and his confidence and controlled athleticism in the second-level shines. Has prototypical left tackle size, length, and athleticism, but also showed extreme comfortability at multiple positions at the Senior Bowl.
Hasn’t played a ton of football at ECU due to injuries. Needs to do a better job of trusting and using his length to avoid lunging and getting out over his toes in pass protection. Run blocking in power schemes is going to be an issue, and his overall play strength and anchoring ability needs to be improved. Technically has plenty of growth to do with his strike placement, pass sets, and angles when working laterally in the running game. Has a bad tendency to stop his feet, and get grabby when pass rushers start to turn the corner on him. Is going to need to bulk up to play up to the NFL power, which could result in a losing some of his flexibility and athleticism.
Heading into the Senior Bowl, D’Ante Smith was a fringe day three guy, but after completely dominating that week, he worked himself into the day two conversation, showcasing massive strides in a lot of his questionable areas at ECU. While his tape at ECU wasn’t always electric, his week down in Mobile was just that. D’Ante Smith proved that while his frame is still lean, he packs a powerful punch, and is able to anchor in nicely against power. He also showcased top-notch versatility playing left tackle, right tackle, and both guard spots while down in Mobile. If you’re drafting Smith before round four, you’re doing so off of his athletic and physical traits, and his week down in Mobile, but based on his tape at ECU he will need some time to develop fully before he’s ready to contribute in the NFL.
4th (#106 Overall)
.@ECUPiratesFB LT D’Ante Smith will be a tremendous Day 2 value pick for some team. Many OTs being mocked higher than @B1GSmoove don’t have nearly his tools. Hard to get around someone with 35 1/4 arms (85 1/8 wing) and light feet. Great rep here vs. skilled rusher Quincy Roche. pic.twitter.com/afFFnZxl68— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) February 26, 2021
#EastCarolina OT D’Ante Smith https://t.co/ejV8A8Xufy pic.twitter.com/z8r40OYobl— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) March 3, 2021
Howard Mudd is the best OL coach I’ve ever been around. He was always obsessed with how guys recover. This is an awesome rep by ECU’s D’Ante Smith! pic.twitter.com/5DBXTApMUv— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) January 27, 2021