FRISCO, Texas – He was drafted for his potential. Not exactly a player the Cowboys were counting on to play a premier position right away, but eventually when he develops.
That's basically what the Cowboys have in front of them with their left tackle in Tyler Smith, who was picked 24th overall and a player that potentially could be guard right now, but someday move out to left tackle.
It seems as if that "someday" is now as the Cowboys are needing Tyler Smith to move back to the position he played in college and replace Pro Bowl veteran Tyron Smith, who had surgery on his hamstring that will sideline him most of the season, if not all.
But if there's anyone that knows what Smith is feeling, it would be the guy he's trying to block for – Dak Prescott.
Back in 2016, the Cowboys took the Mississippi State quarterback in the fourth round, with hopes he could one day develop into a player that might eventually replace starter Tony Romo. But an injury to Romo in preseaosn that year changed everything and Dak not only was thrust into the starting lineup, but he never let it go, even when Romo returned in midseason.
We know the rest of the story – Dak led the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and won Rookie of the Year. Romo later retired at the end of the season, proving that plans can change instantly in the NFL.
And it's because of his own experiences, coupled with the vibes he gets from the rookie lineman, that has Dak so confident in Smith.
"When you hang around Tyler, you see the competitor, the fighter. You see the football player – the grit," Dak Prescott said. "I expect him to be prepared. I was in his position (six) years ago. If there's anyone who is supporting the next man up and is about that mentality, it's me. I'm here to support him and give him the most confidence that he needs."
The good part about the move, is that it's not a new position for Smith. Actually, he spent most of the summer trying to play guard and found himself competing in a close race with Connor McGovern.
So the move back out to tackle is a familiar one. And based off a discussion he had with veteran guard Zack Martin, Smith said the reps during the summer might turn out to be a good thing for his career.
"Left tackle has always been my primary position since high school," Tyler Smith said. "It's not something that's foreign to me. I was talking to Zack about it and he said, 'this is going to be one of the best things for your career. You've been out there at guard and know how to play guard. And now you're moving back to your home position. Having the ability to move to different spots is going to be good for your career.' So it's definitely been good for sure."
The Cowboys haven't exactly named Smith the starting left tackle for the Sept. 11 game with the Bucs. But Smith has lined up that way in practice and it does appear the team is ready to give their first-round pick a chance to show what he can do.
The Cowboys have been in talks with veteran Jason Peters, who visited the team on Friday and took a physical. The 18-year veteran could sign with the Cowboys on Monday – either to the roster or practice squad. It's not likely he would be ready to start or even play immediately.
All indications are pointing towards Tyler Smith having to be ready to play. And if that happens, he's at least got one of his teammates who knows the feeling.
Optimistic about a guy playing tackle in college.
When you hang around Tyler, you see the competitor, the fighter. You see the football player – the grit. I expect him to be prepared. I was in his position (six) years ago. If there's anyone who is supporting the next man up and is about that mentality, it's me. I'm here to support him and give him the most confidence that he needs.