Film room: A closer look at Cowboys’ top NFL draft pick OL Tyler Smith - Nick Kehoe, Dallas Morning News
Tyler Smith’s eventual success or failure will dictate the quality of the entire draft class.
One area where Dallas should improve by moving a tackle like Smith inside to guard is in their ability to handle more exotic fronts and stunts in obvious passing downs. Defenses around the NFL have incorporated more and more looks in recent years where they find ways to get defensive tackles and defensive ends attacking guards inside from distance. They do this by aligning them over or outside the tackle to give them a running start.
It’s a look frequently used by the Rams with Aaron Donald (a 2022 Cowboys opponent, by the way). Guards are generally not comfortable handling pass rushers from distance because they don’t experience those situations as frequently as tackles do. Smith has, which means he should be more comfortable and capable.
The issues with Smith are centered around his technique and refinement as a blocker. One of the biggest areas he needs to work on is his hand usage and placement. Smith often grabs or bear hugs defenders:
Some perspective on Dallas’ draft class as a whole.
Nick Eatman. Tyler Smith Pick: Obviously, time will tell. I think it'll be a solid pick if he can start right now at guard and be similar to Connor Williams. It'll be a good pick if he's already better than Williams and gives the team needed size in the middle. If he can eventually move to tackle and start, then I think it turns into a great pick.
Favorite Pick: Do I really have a choice? The Cowboys haven't picked an Arkansas guy in 14 years. But I do think adding John Ridgeway late in the fifth round will turn into a good pick. I can see him having the role the Cowboys intended for Brent Urban last year.
Best Value: I believe the best value will be in the last pick. Devin Harper might play more snaps than a lot of these other guys because he should step right in on special teams. A linebacker in the 4.4 range? He has the chance to be a core member of the kicking game.
When there are winners, there’s always going to be losers.
DE Tarell Basham. Basham saw a lot of snaps in 2021 thanks to absences from DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory. But things were already looking bad for Tarell after Dallas re-signed Dorance Armstrong and added Dante Fowler in free agency. Now that Sam Williams was also added in the 2nd round, the numbers are starting to look bad for the veteran.
The Cowboys are starting to develop a surplus of defensive ends. Lawrence is still the primary, Armstrong and Fowler are expected to fill the Gregory void, plus now there’s Williams and Chauncey Golston as young depth who need snaps for future development. This leaves Basham feeling like the sixth man in the group. With LB Micah Parsons also likely to see time as a pass rusher, Dallas may very well decide they don’t need a sixth DE when they form their final roster.
It also doesn’t help Tarell that the Cowboys can clear $1.75 million in cap space by releasing him. Even if it doesn’t come until final cuts, that space goes into the rollover for 2023 and could ultimately be Basham’s undoing.
If he can get healthy, Damone Clark has a chance to be an outstanding value pick.
The newest member of this group is another linebacker in LSU’s Damone Clark. Clark is actually known to have incredible character off-field. And, instead of a knee injury, the LSU Tiger is currently recovering from spinal fusion surgery for a herniated disc that had him tumbling down the draft boards after his impressive NFL Combine performance.
That tumble and loss of confidence in his recovery turned out to benefit the Cowboys as they were able to take Clark with the 176th overall pick. Some Dallas fans probably hoped the Cowboys would take Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Nakobe Dean when he started to fall down the draft boards due to injury concerns, but the front office decided against it.
Dean would go on to be taken by the Philadelphia Eagles 83rd overall in the third round. However, even though Dean is often viewed as the steal of the draft, Clark should be looked at as a steal as well. Looking at his overall stats, you will see that the Cowboys were able to get a player whose play on the field is comparable to linebackers taken in the second and even first round of this year’s draft class.
Using analytics to decide if the Cowboys improved over the offseason - Aidan Davis, Blogging The Boys
Are the Cowboys a better team this year than they were in 2021?
As previously mentioned, Josh Allen led the NFL with an AV of 19. There is then a four-way tie for second place between Justin Herbert, Cooper Kupp, Patrick Mahomes, and Micah Parsons all at 18. Not only was Parsons the best Dallas Cowboy player by AV, but in his rookie year, he was tied for the second-best in the league.
Other notable Cowboys include Trevon Diggs finishing tied for 14th in the league with his eleven interceptions. Dak Prescott finished with an AV of 14 which was good for the 10th ranked quarterback in the NFL last year by this metric.
The remaining top ten Cowboys by AV in 2021 are as follows, adjusted for the games they missed: 4.) Zack Martin: 13.8 AV 5.) Tyron Smith: 12.4 AV 6.) CeeDee Lamb: 10.6 AV 7.) DeMarcus Lawrence: 9.7 AV 8.) Tony Pollard: 9.1 AV 9.) Randy Gregory: 8.5 AV 10.) Ezekiel Elliott: 8 AV
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