3 Cowboys players who cannot afford to regress in 2023

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1. Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith came into Dallas last season as a first round pick surrounded by question marks. Experts believed the Cowboys reached when other popular offensive linemen were still on the draft board. However, the move paid off for 2022.

Smith was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team after starting all 17 regular season games and two playoff games. He started most games at left tackle after Tyron Smith went down with an injury early in training camp. When Tyron returned most believed Tyler would move to his primary position of left guard. That was also put on hold after Terence Steele went down with a torn ACL.

The younger Smith ended up starting every game at the left tackle position, a spot most believed he could not adjust to as a rookie.

With Tyron healthy heading into training camp and Steele returning from injury, Tyler will start camp back at his normal position of left guard. However, most should expect to the line to shift if any injuries occur yet again. Fortunately, Tyler has proven he can play both positions, making him a vital asset to the offensive line.

Tyler will have to prove he can keep it up in 2023. Not only is he expected to play at the same level, but also at a different position. Yes, guard is where he was most comfortable at Tulsa, but in the NFL trench battles are intense.

The 2022 first-round pick cannot afford to suffer through the dreaded "sophomore slump" if the Cowboys are to challenge for the NFC East and deep playoff run.