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Mailbag: Why Not Focus Tyler Smith At Guard?


Most of the evaluations of the Cowboys' first-round pick come with the caveat "if he eventually kicks out to left tackle." What are the chances that Smith can eventually turn into a Pro Bowl or even an All-Pro guard along the lines of Zack Martin? Why is everyone so hung up him having to replace Tyron Smith to be a good pick? — ROBERT LECLERC / PRINCE GEORGE, BC

David: I think people are hung up on it because this team's decision makers explicitly stated that that was part of their vision for him. They view him as possible being their left tackle of the future, so of course we have to give some weight to that. It'll be really interesting if he winds up being a dominant guard. Sure, it'd be wonderful if he can play both spots. But, much like Zack, would you really want to move a guy who establishes himself as a top-tier guard? Of course we're getting ahead of ourselves. That conversation is at least a year away, if not longer. But it's interesting to think about.

Nick: It seems like most first-round guards are picked with the idea that he "could" eventually move to tackle. Personally, I think it's a little overrated. Yes, I understand that left tackle is probably a more important spot that left guard. But if people are really saying he has to move out there for this to be a good pick, that's crazy. Zack Martin has played like half of a game at tackle in his career and he's one of the best ever. To me, if he's really good at left guard, I would hesitate in moving him out there. Just by looking at his body type, I think he's going to be a better guard because of his strength. I'm not doubting him, but I have a suspicion that he's really good at guard and stays there.

Why is it there is never any mention of the sixth-round draft pick Devin Harper? — MARK GILLIS / BROWNSVILLE, TX

David: Typically, when you add nine guys to a team at the same time, the guy drafted last tends to get the least amount of shine. That's not meant on a knock on Harper, I think people just tend to keep their expectations down the later a guy is called in the draft. To answer your question, I think Harper actually has a wonderful chance to carve out a role for himself. The Cowboys need special teams depth, and an athletic guy who likes to hit – which describes Harper perfectly – can make some serious hay in that department. If he plays his cards right, it's easy to imagine him filling a depth role at linebacker while also playing a ton of special teams for John Fassel this season.

Nick: Last pick out of nine and he's primarily a special teams player. At least, that's what the scouting report says, but he did have 11 tackles for loss last season alone. That's a high number, especially in a college season. There are some intriguing traits here and I've said this before, I think he plays the third-most snaps of all the draft picks this year behind Tyler Smith and Jalen Tolbert. You might be able to convince me he'll be fourth behind Jake Ferguson, but you get the point. Harper is going to play and I think he'll be a plug-and-play members of the kicking game.

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