Big Stuff

Tyron Smith from USC might have a future protecting the Cowboys' QBs blind-side in the NFL.

and we're talking about athletes, not just some big ol' overweight guys once known unflattering as "hogs." Guys big enough, strong enough and agile a foot enough to protect, yes, the quarterback's blind side.

So, with that as our backdrop, tell me this: Is there a guy in this 2011 draft now three weeks away that you've just got to have? The no-doubt-abouter? You know, like in recent drafts, the Sam Bradford or Ndamukung Suh or Matthew Stafford or Calvin Johnson or Joe Thomas or Adrian Peterson or Reggie Bush or Mario Williams or DeMarcus Ware? That's right, go back and look at the 2005 draft, and tell me who the best player in that draft was now six seasons later, and then feel free to make fun of all those other teams who were taking the likes of Cedric Benson and Pacman Jones and Alex Barron and Matt Jones and Fabian Washington and Braylon Edwards and Mike Williams and Shawne Merriman. Don't tell me the Cowboys are the only team to miss on guys in the draft. Please.

Anyway, who you got? Who you got to have? You sure on the quarterbacks, Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert? I'm not, and I've watched the majority of Gabbert's games over the two years he's started at Missouri. Who else, Patrick Peterson and Vonn Miller? So we talkin' Deion Sanders or Ray Lewis here? You darn sure on A.J. Green? Nick Fairley? The knee longevity of Da'Quan Bowers?

The surest pick in this draft might just be Marcell Dareus, defensive lineman, Alabama, although it appears the Cowboys will have no shot at him. Probably not either at Miller or Peterson, to me, the next to purest picks.

And when the No. 9 pick rolls around, will there be a catalytic-type player available? One to fit the Cowboys needs? And remember, they don't need a quarterback or a running back or a wide receiver, not with the ninth pick in the draft. There is not a safety worth taking, nor a linebacker that high, and their need for a cornerback with the first-round pick, to me, is over-exaggerated.

So what we got left? A 3-4 defensive end or offensive lineman, right? That makes someone becoming "the first offensive lineman taken by the Cowboys in the first round since 1981" a real possibility.

If so, then why not Tyron Smith, and for those who have struggled with the pronunciation of his first name, the 6-5, 310-pounder was good enough to do so for me the other day, and it's TIE-run. Just looking at him, digest his testing scores, man there seems little downside here.

Talking to him might even make a better case for taking him. He's well-spoken, and easily handles all kinds of questions. Seems pretty down-to-earth, to the point of being refreshingly humble. I mean, ask him how he'd feel if the Cowboys select him with the ninth pick in the draft, and he says he would "feel real blessed and thank God for the opportunity." That's right, he said "opportunity."

You say he's only 20 years old. I say, he sounds and looks 28, plus, in 10 years think about this, he'll only be 30, prime age for an offensive lineman.

You say he played the past two years only at right tackle, and a first-round tackle in the draft should be a left tackle. He'll say he played left tackle all through high school and his first year at USC. Even with what little I know, he looks like a left tackle.

You say he played at only 285 at USC. He'll tell you he's already at 310 after finally eating right for the past four months while working out at API in Phoenix, instead of the one to two meals daily he was eating during the season at southern Cal, and mostly at "McDonald's and Jack in the Box," so certainly not on the Reggie Bush meal plan. Plus, just working out fulltime for two offseasons, he'll be at 320 easy, and you'll never be able to tell.

Heard his former USC coach Pete Carroll, now the head guy with the Seahawks, call him the other day, "an incredible athlete remarkable athlete tough," and that he's a guy you can plug in for the next 10-12 years. That's what I'm talking about.

But most of all, I liked what Trojans teammate Shareece Wright, a 5-10, 185-pound corner had to say about him: "He's a big kid, but he's not a kid. He's mature for his age, and the people who he surrounds himself with have prepared him well for what's coming up for

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