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Role Call: Projecting Tyler Smith's Summer


(Editor's Note: The offseason program is in full swing, and it's no longer too early to look ahead. As part of the preparation for training camp, this series will introduce 25 key players who are new to the Cowboys' roster, rookies and veterans alike. The series continues today with offensive lineman Tyler Smith.)

How he got here: This one should be fairly obvious. The Cowboys made Smith, the 21-year-old left tackle out of Tulsa, the No. 24 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft. They picked him after watching the likes of Kenyon Green, Zion Johnson and Treylon Burks go off the board – and they memorably took him ahead of more high-profile prospects like Tyler Linderbaum and Devin Lloyd. But from the moment his name was called, Cowboys officials have been firm that Smith was one of their primary targets and someone they think can prove to be valuable in both the short and long term. For Smith's part, he clearly isn't afraid of the spotlight. The rookie has embraced wearing Larry Allen's No. 73, and he has already displayed the competitive demeanor that put him on so many teams' radars during the draft process.

What's next: Ask a Cowboys coach about Smith's future, and you're going to get a vague answer. The team sees him as a "left side player," meaning they hope he can help them at both left guard and left tackle. Specifically, they hope he can grow into a dominant left tackle and an eventual heir to Tyron Smith, who has manned that position for a decade now. Realistically, the Cowboys are kidding themselves if they think we can't see the writing on the wall. Smith is here to be a big, imposing force at left guard – for the time being, at the very least. The expectation is that Smith will work at both positions, especially given Smith's well-documented injury history. But an upgrade at the left guard spot would do wonders to improve the Cowboys' offensive line, so it makes sense if that's the current focus for the first-round pick.

Bet you didn't know: Even if this is already well-known, it can't be overstated how amazing it is that Smith overcame Blount's disease as a teen to reach the NFL. The condition affects the growth of the shine bone near the knee and leads to severe bowleggedness. With an eye on playing football at a high level, Smith underwent surgery after his junior year of high school, essentially having the bones in his legs realigned. Despite wearing an external fixator on his left leg, not to mention needing months of rehab, Smith didn't miss a game of his senior season and earned an offer to play FBS-level football at Tulsa.

Quotable: "You never want somebody else's opinion of you to become a reality, and I simply won't let it. I understand criticism and I take it well, but I'm always working to get better at the same time." – Tyler Smith

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