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Cowboys to entrust untested rookie at left tackle

Sportsnaut
Aug 18, 2022; Costa Mesa, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyler Smith (73) and offensive tackle Matt Waletzko (71) stretch during joint practice against the Los Angeles Chargers at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones resisted the urge to make a trade to fix the left tackle spot, anchored in the belief he has the man for the job on the roster.

Jones said the Cowboys considered all options — presumably including a trade — when they learned Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith would miss months with a knee injury. Moving All-Pro guard Zack Martin, a tackle at Notre Dame who has played left tackle in an emergency for the Cowboys, wasn’t a thought this time around.

That’s because Jones said the Cowboys ultimately settled on rookie first-round pick Tyler Smith, even though the untested 21-year-old has never practiced there with the team.

“We’ve got to get him out here and get him practiced here over the next couple of weeks relative to any issue he had with a little high-ankle (sprain),” Jones said. “But we don’t think that’s serious enough to limit his preparation. Now, what is the case is he hasn’t been there at left tackle. He is a rookie. But he’s a first-round pick and he deserved to be a first-round pick in my mind. And so we knew — we just didn’t want it to come any earlier than it needed — but we knew we had to get ready to replace our left tackle and he was the pick.”

Tyler Smith was projected to be a guard in the NFL by Field Level Media’s draft analysts entering the 2022 NFL Draft. He entered the draft as an underclassman and won with upper-body strength and raw power at Tulsa, but “athletic limitations might be exposed outside” at tackle, per the FLM pre-draft scouting report.

Dallas has had success turning out consistent performers drafted in the first round — Martin was picked No. 16 in 2014, Tyron Smith went ninth in 2011 — and Smith went No. 24 overall.

The Cowboys open the season at home Sept. 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

–Field Level Media