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The Athletic’s assessment from NFL executives shows one believes Tyler Smith superior to Zion Johnson

Perhaps the Cowboys really did get it right.

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SPORTS-FBN-ENGEL-COLUMN-FT Amanda McCoy/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is in an interesting place as it still features some prominent players in Tyron Smith and Zack Martin, but is also in need of a reload and replenishment with the future on the horizon. It is the latter reason that seemingly drove the Cowboys to select Tulsa’s Tyler Smith with their first-round pick a week and a half ago. Smith will start at left guard in all likelihood this season and is the heir apparent to Tyron Smith’s long-held left tackle spot. If the transition is as seamless as the Cowboys are talking about it being then they will deserve a lot of credit for the way it all came together.

Credit is something that is in rather short supply these days as far as the Cowboys and the Tyler Smith pick is concerned. Most reports from around the league believe that Dallas ‘reached’ with the pick, but if it works out then obviously nobody will care how it came together.

The Athletic’s assessment from NFL executives shows one believes Tyler Smith is superior to Zion Johnson

In the immediate aftermath of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cowboys doubled down on their Tyler Smith selection in front of the entire world. Jerry Jones held up a sheet of paper that seemingly had the team’s rankings of the top prospects on it (the internet got to work on it and uncovered a lot of information) and noted that they had Tyler Smith above both of what many believed were the top guard prospects in Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson. The deciphered list does support that claim so the Cowboys did, in fact, ‘stick to their board’ in the first round.

While it may be true that Dallas evaluated the prospects that way, many believed the evaluation might have been off. Interestingly enough, in Mike Sando’s assessment of the NFL Draft from various team executives at The Athletic there was at least one who agreed with Dallas having Smith over Johnson and arguably Green.

When some analysts questioned the Cowboys’ decision to select tackle Tyler Smith in the first round, owner Jerry Jones noted that the team had Smith rated higher than linemen who were selected earlier, including Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson.

“I actually do think he is better than Zion Johnson and very comparable to Kenyon Green,” an exec said.

The Cowboys predictably (the way any team would) said that they believed Tyler Smith would have gone in the first round if they hadn’t taken him and if he is truly a better prospect than Zion Johnson and/or Kenyon Green in the eyes of multiple evaluators then that also makes sense.

There is no doubt that the Cowboys have earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to evaluating first-round offensive linemen. Hopefully they have managed to pull off another heist like Travis Frederick in 2013.

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