At age 24, offensive tackle Tyron Smith is already a stalwart of this Dallas Cowboys team and considered one of the best at his position across the league. Smith is just a year older than Brandon Scherff; the Redskins offensive line draft pick taken 5th overall in 2015. While Scherff begins his career in the NFL as a rookie, Smith will be entering his 5th season.
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In three of his four seasons as a Cowboy, Smith has been ranked as a top ten offensive tackle by PFF. The drafting of him signified the start of the Jason Garrett era. It saw a change in Jerry Jones handling of the team. Smith became the first offensive lineman drafted in the first round since Jones bought the team in 1989.
According to those in and around the Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Smith has been the standout performer.
Football analyst for DallasCowboys.com Bryan Broaddus was effusive in his praise for Smith last week.
"“Tyron Smith had as dominant a day blocking in a practice as I had ever seen from an offensive lineman in a practice. It didn’t matter who he was facing- whether it was Greg Hardy or Randy Gregory- his technique was flawless.”"
For rookie defensive lineman Randy Gregory and free agent signing Greg Hardy they’d do well to live by the mantra once said by the legendary Tom Landry.
A winner never stops trying; wise words indeed. And for Gregory and Hardy, spending the days practicing against the best in the business may not reap immediate reward, but they can rest easy knowing they won’t face a tougher opponent at left tackle the rest of the year.
Bryan Broaddus reported on a number of head to heads Hardy and Smith have had throughout camp. With the offensive lineman coming out on top.
"“As hard as Greg Hardy tried, Tyron Smith had his number. Where I believed that Hardy made his mistake is not trying to set Smith up on some inside rushes. When he went to the corner – Smith was there to cut him off. The problem for Hardy during this practice was that he tried to overpower Smith and that’s just not going to happen. Round 1 to Tyron Smith.”"
While Smith maybe dominating the majority of plays, he’s been quick to acknowledge the good work being put in by both Hardy and Gregory.
"“They’re great players. They’re going to bring it every time…You have to be on your game every time you go against these guys. One little false slip-up and you’re going to get beat.”"
And for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, it must be good to see his men able to challenge if not always beat Tyron Smith. Rather than seeing Smith school a mere camp body, we’re seeing the best of the offensive line against the best of the defensive line.
"“…it becomes just not the talent but the skill, the toughness, the attitude, those things. That’s when you get really good players on your team that really respect the battle. Their reputation is on the line every day, every snap.”- Rod Marinelli on Smith vs Hardy"
Hardy, Gregory and co are able to practice against the very best talent day in day out. Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick will not make it easy for them. But players like Smith are the best because they never settle. Smith has areas he wants to improve on.
"“For me, I feel like I have a lot of things to clean up…I need to get better in my technique and just continue working at it.”"
It seems there maybe even more to come from Tyron Smith yet. To all the opposing defenders of 2015; good luck getting past #77.