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The Cowboys answer to the swing tackle situation could already be on the roster

This year’s first round pick, Tyler Smith, could fill in at tackle in a pinch.

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

So far this offseason, there has been plenty of concern with the outlook of the ever important swing tackle position. The importance of solidifying this position has been amplified in recent years because of the injury history of future Hall of Fame left tackle, Tyron Smith, who hasn’t played a full season since 2015.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The past two seasons via the NFL draft the Cowboys invested a fourth-round pick in 2021 for Josh Ball, and a fifth-round pick in Matt Waletzko in 2022, in an attempt to solidify the swing tackle position. Both Ball and Waletzko have the athletic traits you look for, but they are both very raw and are developmental prospects. At least early on this offseason, Dallas was having a competition brewing between both Ball and Waletzko. This ended abruptly as Waletzko’s training camp was done and quite possibly his rookie year as well. There are some reports surfacing that Waletzko could postpone shoulder surgery in hopes of playing in 2022. Regardless of what unfolds with Waletzko, he has already lost valuable practice time and reps which for a developmental player is not a good thing at all. To top it off, Josh Ball has struggled mightily.

After a bad night at the office for Ball in week one of the preseason, there is a narrative going around that Dallas needs to go out and make a move to solidify the swing tackle position. That certainly is a possibility, and there are many names on the market who could certainly be an upgrade over Ball. But there are two important things to consider; will Dallas being willing to pay up for one of the free agent veterans who are currently available? Or will those available free agents be willing to take a backup role instead of waiting it out for an injury and have a better chance to start? We will have to take a wait and see approach to those questions for the moment, and while we wait to see what happens, why not go with a name who is already on the roster, which happens to be this year’s first-round pick, Tyler Smith?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 14 SMU at Tulsa Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tyler Smith at this very moment is pretty much a lock to start at left guard for the Cowboys in 2022, even though Mike McCarthy wants him to “earn” his starting spot. Connor McGovern has shown enough on tape to be the number one backup at both guard positions and his practice reps should reflect it. McCarthy not giving the keys to Tyler Smith at starting left guard right out the gate could come back to hinder Smith’s progress down the line, and also negatively impact the cohesiveness of the starting offensive line unit where continuity is very important.

This situation at left guard is also having an impact on the swing tackle position as well. It is very apparent at the moment that the Cowboys will be in deep trouble if Tyron Smith is out for any game in 2022, because of how poorly Josh Ball has performed thus far. If Dallas isn’t willing to bring in any outside help to solidify a need, then the Cowboys will have to pivot with an in-house fix by moving Tyler Smith over to left tackle in the instance that Tyron Smith cannot play.

Jerry Jones and company made a huge investment in Tyler Smith by making him this year’s first-round pick. They’ve also made a huge investment that he will eventually take over for Tyron Smith at left tackle, due to his days in Dallas being numbered. When making such an investment in a player to eventually take the reins at left tackle, why not move him over to tackle assuming Tyron Smith gets injured again?

Sure, he needs some technical refinement and to be coached up. However, he has a combination of size, strength, and athleticism that given the current landscape of the free agent market doesn’t possess as you’ll see with these highlights:

At this stage of the preseason, the underrated move to be considered is if Tyron Smith goes down, move Tyler Smith over to left tackle and insert a proven backup in Connor McGovern at left guard. This the best thing to do considering the roster construction of the team currently, and it will also ensure that Tyler Smith gets plenty of work in at left tackle before eventually being given the keys to the position once Tyron Smith is no longer in the picture. Time will certainly tell how this plays out, but this scenario has to be at the top of the list assuming no outside moves are made.

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