Something became glaringly apparent this week when the pads came on in Oxnard – Tyler Smith was the starting left guard. The Dallas Cowboys first round pick out of Tulsa was not handed the job. In fact, he’s been fighting for the starting gig since the first minicamp.
Connor McGovern, a former third round pick, had been getting first team reps. The veteran guard is in the last year of his rookie deal and hungry to get a starting spot before he hits free agency. At the very least he was to serve as insurance should the rookie Smith struggle to transition from LT to LG his first year as a pro.
It’s become evident that insurance policy will not be needed.
Tyler Smith has special power to his game that make him a lock for the Dallas Cowboys starting LG spot
From a power perspective, Tyler Smith is as advertised. When the Cowboys drafted Smith out of Tulsa they highlighted his power and athleticism as his standout traits. His film backed it up with Smith often looking like a man amongst boys.
As with any leap in competition, there were questions as to how his game would translate to the professional game. Was he just beating up on kids or was he really as strong as he looks. I’m here to say, this guy is stronger.
Finesse wins in nonpadded practices but when the contract becomes real, power shines. More often than not, Tyler Smith looks like the strongest man out there. His heavy hands and powerful legs have been crushing opponents. More importantly, his technique and discipline have improved as well.
Tyler Smith was a walking penalty at Tulsa. If Dallas Cowboys fans hated Connor Williams (the former LG) then they were probably in store for a rude awakening with Tyler Smith. Not only did Smith get flagged a metric truckload at Tulsa, but the flags were only a fraction of what officials in the NFL would call.
But early returns in Oxnard show Tyler Smith playing with better discipline and technique. He’s keeping his hands in front of him and his legs moving to avoid reaching. Part of it is the position change but part of it is also his maturation as a player. It’s enough to make people like me a lot happier with his selection in the draft and enough for me to say, “it’s over. The kid won the job.”
As far as battles to watch, this ain’t it. McGovern has been looking fine but Smith looks like a beast. The power he offers is special and if he can keep honing in on fixing his weaknesses he could be a very special player down the road.
Right tackle continues to be a bit of a worry, as does center. Terence Steele is very susceptible to power rushers and Tyler Biadasz is not being pushed like we hoped he would be by the competition. Both situations could turn out serviceably so no need for a panic button yet, but both are much more up-in-the-air than this Tyler Smith competition appears to be.
Things could change, Tyler Smith is a raw rookie so he could backslide, but speaking as a former skeptic, I’m pretty sold on him and you should be too.
Tyler Smith is the answer at LG. There are a lot of things to worry about, him winning that battle shouldn’t be one of them.