(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2012 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features left tackle Tyron Smith.)
Name: Tyron Smith
Position: Left Tackle
Experience: 2 seasons
Key stat:Tyron Smith injured his ankle midway through the season, but only missed one game. He only had three penalties the second half of the season as he began to grow accustomed to his new position at left tackle.
Contract Status:Signed through 2015.
How He Played In 2012: The biggest question of the 2012 offseason really became the least talked about. The move of Tyron Smith from right tackle to the left side was not the issue with this offensive line. Smith was the most consistent of the starting five when you studied him down after down, game after game. It was clear early in camp that Smith would be fine on the left side and even though he had to learn different footwork and techniques with his set and punch, his natural ability would carry him until he
was able to work through it. During the season, Smith faced some outstanding rushers and to his credit, he played the position like a seasoned veteran. But again to me this wasn't a surprise, because during training camp he took advantage of the opportunities of working against Ware, Spencer and Butler, which sharpened his skills for the season. If Smith did get in trouble it was when he set a little wide then had to adjust quickly to get back inside, but overall I thought there was really nice balance between handling rushers. With Smith you didn't see that up and down in his game like you did with his teammates. With Smith's athletic ability you do see a side of nastiness which goes along with his desire to finish blocks. You see this mainly in the running game. When he would hook up on defenders there was very little separation and it was rare to see his man as part of the play.
How Does He Fit: When Doug Free struggled at right tackle, there have been plenty of outside voices that believed that the club should consider moving Smith back to right tackle and either draft a left tackle or move Jermey Parnell back. If I had a voice in this scouting department I would offer this thought – keep Smith on the left side and let him play there for the next 12 years, because in my observation, he is only going to get better. There is no question about his athletic ability and put that with the experience that he is going to gain each week, he can become one of those tackles that can anchor your line for years. He is so young but so gifted, this club has to allow him to grow and mature. I understood why they started him on the right side to get him the experience, but he is a natural left tackle not only with the ability but his demeanor as well. Little bothers him during a game and you can see it in his play. His play allows this front office to focus on the other positions along this line and that clearly is where their attention needs to be.
Rowan Kavner –Not a lot of players on the offensive line can feel comfortable knowing they'll have a starting position waiting for them in 2013. In fact, Smith might be the only player who knows he'll be out there with the starting group by the start of the season. [embedded_ad]
The Cowboys invested in the offensive lineman in the first round two years ago knowing he could be the future at left tackle. After a solid season at right tackle, he moved over to the left side in 2012 and gave reason to believe he could be a cornerstone at the position with a few more years under his belt. He definitely had his struggles throughout the year, along with the rest of the group around him, but he became one of the more stable, consistent players on the line. He did rack up 11 penalties, but most of the pressure coming toward Tony Romo wasn't from his man. Smith's just 22 years old and should continue to get better at left tackle, particularly if the Cowboys can get better at guard.