IRVING, Texas --Sitting with the ninth overall draft pick this past spring, the Cowboys had very high grades for three offensive tackles: Tyron Smith, Anthony Costanzo and Nate Solder.
They wound up taking Smith, who has been effective in four starts at right tackle. They'll see another of those top young tackles this Sunday -- Solder, who went 17th overall to the Patriots, has started four of their first five games for an injured Sebastian Vollmer and has even chipped in as an extra blocking tight end in certain formations.
Some Cowboys brass really liked Solder, particularly if they wound up in a trade-down scenario where they could take him and acquire additional picks.
But they decided to take the best tackle on their board, and Smith has proven them right so far.
"It looks like he's been doing real good," left tackle Doug Free said of Smith. "First year, no offseason, he's done a great job of learning the plays. A little technique stuff that he's been working on quite hard and he's definitely been getting better."