When the Dallas Cowboys drafted offensive lineman Tyler Smith with the 24th overall pick, fans and media had mixed feelings.

On one hand, many were surprised at Smith being taken that early. On the other hand, the Cowboys’ intentions were crystal clear. Tyler Smith could be a short-term solution at left guard and a long-term replacement for All-Pro offensive lineman with the same initials, Tyron Smith.

That’s why during OTAs and minicamp, the rookie saw work at left tackle and left guard. Some have even speculated that Tyler could kick out to tackle if Tyron gets hurt at some point in the season.

For now, though, the Cowboys will allow the player out of Tulsa to zero in at one position.

“I probably played him too much at tackle than guard,” said McCarthy about Tyler Smith’s work in the spring. Since the start of camp, he’s worked exclusively at left guard.

McCarthy pointed out that having him practice both positions could translate to inconsistency in his technique. Instead, Dallas will aim toward making his learning curve a bit smoother by letting him focus on guard.

“If we can keep him in one spot, and let him get comfortable there, I think his flexibility will benefit from having a good foundation.”

Tyler Smith has had a solid offseason so far, silencing doubters up to this point. With pads coming on this week, all eyes will be on the first-rounder. Some like to say camp doesn’t start until players get in pads.

That might not be true for all positions, but for those doing the dirty work in the trenches, it certainly is.

However, it’s not all about how Tyler Smith performs physically. The biggest thing the Cowboys’ coaching staff will be looking for is his discipline and understanding of the cadence and “pace of the operation and tempo.”

“He needs reps,” summarized McCarthy. There’s no question he will get those. Something to watch will be how the rotation between him and Connor McGovern evolves over camp. Both have been getting first-team reps so far, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Smith’s share of snaps increasing as the games start getting closer and closer.

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