It’s not easy for rookies to adjust to the NFL. It’s even more difficult when you’re playing one of the five most important positions on the field. In the next month, this is something Cowboys’ rookie linemen Tyler Smith is about to learn.
After the other Smith, Tyron, went down with a potentially season-ending injury last week, Dallas’ plan for the future of the 21-year-old manning down the left tackle spot suddenly became a present reality.
While things could change between now and Sep. 11th, Dallas seems set on rolling with the first-round pick at left tackle.
Cowboys’ starting offensive line in Week 1 vs. Buccaneers is expected to be LT Tyler Smith, LG Connor McGovern, C Tyler Biadasz, RG Zack Martin and RT Terence Steele. Good chance an offensive tackle will be acquired before then for added depth.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 29, 2022
Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones on @1053thefan said that rookie OL Tyler Smith (ankle) is expected to return to practice today. Jones on how they are planning to address starting left tackle Week 1 with Tyron Smith out: “The plan is for it to be an in-house person.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 29, 2022
Right out of the gate, the Cowboys will be tested, playing four of their first six games against 2021 playoff teams. Three of those teams, the Buccaneers, the Bengals, and the Rams ranked in the top 12 in the league in sacks last season. While the Eagles and Commanders did not, they both have very talented defensive lines that could cause the Cowboys plenty of problems.
With a rookie at left tackle. defensive coordinators are going to scheme things up so talented pass-rushers like Shaquil Barrett, Trey Hendrickson, and Montez Sweat are constantly challenging Smith. While he won’t carry the full burden himself of stopping these guys, opposing DCs are likely going to find any way they can to test Smith with their best guys to see if he can hold up.
When you break it down, this isn’t going to be like 2018 when the Cowboys had a soft landing to start the season. They are going to be facing off against some of the league’s best right away, and in turn, they are going to learn a lot about their first-round pick based on how he performs.
While the Cowboys will surely help Smith, and the left side of their line as a whole in some ways, there’s only so much you can do to assist a left tackle. At some point, it’s going to have to be sink or swim, and it’s up to Smith himself to dictate what the outcome is.
We’re going to learn a lot about the 2022 Dallas Cowboys in their first six games, but we may learn even more about 21-year-old Tyler Smith. If things go well, Dallas may have found themselves their left tackle for years to come. If they don’t, we may see someone new manning down the position come the mid-season mark.