Three Years Later: Grading The Cowboys 2011 Draft Class, Part 1

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Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) in action against Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1: OT Tyron Smith, USC

Smith made his first Pro Bowl in 2013 – a three-year veteran of the league at just 23 years old, playing arguably the second-most important offensive position on the field. His ability to shut down premiere edge rushers with scant help from backs and tight ends helped to popularize the term Tyron Island. Not sure if Bob Sturm over at Sportsradio 1310AM The Ticket coined that moniker or not, but for a brilliant breakdown of Smith’s dominance against another pro bowler from this draft, click here.

Smith was one of eight pro bowlers taken with the first 10 picks of the 2011 draft. Others taken within five picks after him include Houston defensive tackle JJ Watt and St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn. While either of those All Pros would be a welcome addition in Dallas, it’s hard to find any justifiable angle to criticize this pick.

Smith was pro bowl talent at a position of need. The Cowboys carried five tackles on the 2010 roster – Mark Columbo, Alex Barron, Jermey Parnell, Sam Young and Doug Free. Anyone see the future in that crew? As a 20-year-old rookie, Smith was an instant upgrade at right tackle, and would develop into the franchise left tackle of the future.

Assuming the team can re-sign him, and he continues to enjoy excellent health, Smith could turn out to be as good a first-round pick as any the team has made since Bob Lilly.

First-Round Grade: A+Tyron Island could anchor the most important spot on the O Line for another decade, and still have gas in the tank.

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