The Cowboys needed offensive help in the NFL draft, that was widely known. Players such as Kenyon Green and Zion Johnson stood at the forefront for who the Cowboys would take with the 24th overall pick seeing as the left guard spot was of importance.
As is usually the case with the draft, predicting where players will land is a crapshoot. Green landed with the Houston Texans at 15 and Johnson went to the Los Angeles Chargers at 17. Dallas then took offensive lineman Tyler Smith out of Tulsa, something that had been rumored just before the draft kicked off.
The selection of Smith caused an uproar within the Cowboys’ fan base and has continued for the last week. However, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott recently showed his support for bringing Smith on board.
“From everything I’m hearing and seeing it sounds like he’s a good fit for our team,” said Elliott said on Wednesday. “A guy who looks like you can play him at different positions. He looks physical, he looks like he has the type of mentality where he’s going to fit in with the guys already in that room.
“Just the ability to keep (Prescott) clean, give him the ability to go out there and go through his reads and throw the ball on time to the playmakers we have outside — that’s big. Establishing the run is big for our team and going to be important for us this year.”
Former Cowboys’ left guard Connor Williams was flagged 15 times in 2021, basically a penalty every game on average. That’s a big reason for the apprehension by some when it comes to the Cowboys taking Smith because he was called for 16 penalties at Tulsa last year.
Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery doesn’t believe Smith’s penalty issues will continue in the NFL. Montgomery has a theory on why Smith was called for so many flags last season.
“Nah, I think he’ll be fine in that regard,” Montgomery said. “I will say this, and I’m a little biased so I’m going to throw this part in there … Tyler plays so physical that at times, he got some penalties called against him that weren’t penalties. (The refs) saw somebody on the ground and they were like, “well, something must have happened so I just threw a flag there.’ He was that dominant and that physical of a guy.”
Smith was drafted as a left tackle but he’ll likely take over starting duties at left guard to play beside long-time left guard Tyron Smith. With Smith’s aggressive style of play and power, sliding him inside fits his skill set more and will give him a great opportunity to start right out the gate.
The expectations for Smith were already high as the Cowboys’ first-round selection, but they got even higher once his number was revealed. Smith will wear the number 73, the same as former Cowboys’ guard and Hall of Famer Larry Allen, arguably the greatest inside lineman that’s ever played in the NFL.
Instead of being overwhelmed by the responsibility of wearing such a storied Cowboys’ number, Smith is embracing it and wants to keep the tradition going.
“I took a picture of my new jersey. It’s an honor to wear that number,” Smith said. “Larry Allen wore that number. I’ve seen a lot of the adversity that he went through in his life. I feel like I resonate with a lot of that, so it means a lot to be able to wear that and be able to carry on the lineage there, for sure.”
Everything Smith is saying sounds great, but now it’s time for him to put in the work and grind so that his play can match what he speaks.
Feature image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports