Gil Brandt, the Dallas Cowboys Vice President of player personnel for 28 years, knows a good player when he sees one. And no one is more qualified to call a player a “franchise-builder” than Brandt. And that’s exactly what the now NFL Media Analyst has named one of the Cowboys current offensive lineman.
The Cowboys 9th overall pick out of USC in 2010, Tyron Smith is coming off his first Pro Bowl season with Dallas. The 23-year old veteran is already considered to be one of the best left tackles in the entire NFL. Here’s Brandt’s explanation for choosing Smith as a franchise-builder:
“After finding a quarterback and a pass rusher, solidifying the left tackle spot is the next most important piece of the franchise-building puzzle, and Smith is a force who’s rising fast. Arm length and hand size are two key traits to consider when it comes to offensive tackles, and in those areas, Smith (36 3/8-inch-long arms, 11-inch hands) is blessed. Breaking into the league as a right tackle three seasons ago, Smith shifted to the left side in 2012, going on to make the Pro Bowl this season. He’s improved his footwork significantly and has a much better understanding of football, thanks to the guidance of line coach Bill Callahan. Smith is still just 23 years old, which is almost unheard of for a guy entering his fourth season in the NFL — and he can already block any defensive end in the league. Of course, when you have his size (6-foot-5, 310 pounds), you don’t lose many battles.”
Smith will be playing out the final year of his rookie contract in 2014. The Cowboys can elect to pick up a fifth year option on him, which they are fully expected to do this offseason. Afterwards, I’d expect Smith to be come one of the highest, if not the highest, paid offensive lineman in the league.
Smith was joined on Brandt’s list of current NFL franchise-builders by Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, J.J. Watt, Robert Quinn and Luke Kuechly.