Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why The Cowboys Should Take Tyron Smith

Today's Email of the Day (new feature?) is from Brent:

Hey Bob. I've been reading/hearing your take on the Cowboys taking Tyron Smith. I'm sorry, but from the videos I've seen (especially Virginia on youtube), he looks very average. I saw holding 3 times against Cam Jordan from Cal, he's on the ground entirely too often, and seems like a completely unpolished player for an offensive lineman. He's definitely a physical specimen, and he's young, but I wonder why, when he's got a lot to improve upon, he left college so early.

I know the 'boys need offensive line help desperately, and the talk of T Smith to the Cowboys is dying down, but I'm just curious to know what you see that I'm not.

Great show, thanks for the blogs, and I'll be listening Thursday. The Cowboys must have a good draft.

Well, I must confess that I have found myself really falling in love with the premise of the USC RT Tyron Smith quite a bit. Anyone who reads me knows I have been pushing him quite a bit since I took the time to really breakdown a few USC games back in late February that pushed me over the top.

I think at #9, the Cowboys should grab the kid and not look back. But, why?

Part of my feelings about Smith are about the present. I think he was a very strong RT at USC with a pretty good grasp of pass protection, a natural flair for getting to the 2nd level on run plays, and a remarkable ability to recover when he gets beat with an initial move.

These are things that are already in his bag. And, he is still growing into his body.

He just turned 20 and is still figuring out how big he can get. But, at 307, he has a build like DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer, yet weighs about 50 pounds more than either of them. I do not see a scenario under which you ever look at Tyron and suggest he looks fat. He is pretty ripped for 307.

And he will get bigger. His arms appear abnormally long (almost spider-like). Because they are. His hands are huge. This is not superfluous for a tackle in the NFL. These are tools that keep people from getting to your QB. Longer arm means harder to turn the corner on him and an easier recovery.

I believe he will play RT or LT. I believe his upside is far beyond the other tackles in this draft. Anthony Castonzo or Gabe Carimi will be solid, but they are what they are. Nate Solder's present tense is painful to watch, and I fear that he will never develop quickness or recovery to deal with Trent Cole or Brian Orakpo on the edge. Derrick Sherrod is a step back.

I keep coming back to this: Do I want solid now or a do I take a chance and take the guy who appears to have all of the tools to be way better than solid if I am patient and develop him a bit? I would rather get the guy who could be special.

And, Smith is pretty good now, with a chance to be great by his 24th birthday. Will there be growing pains? Yes. And did he have a clean year at USC on every play? No way.

He needs technique help. He needs to find his ideal weight. Remember, at USC, he is playing tackle at 285. When watching his film, you often wonder if he is a tight end. He just looks very, very small. But, 20 pounds later, you can see how his next stop could be 320.

I will post his youtube tape again below. It is worth watching. You see some of what I like and some of what should concern you a bit. But, I do want to remind you of a statistic or two in the NFL that sometimes gets overlooked.

You will see him get beat.

Tamba Hali led the NFL in sacks last year with 17. He rushed the passer 583 times in 2011. That means he would get to the QB 2.9% of the time. Or, to put it another way, the best sacker in the NFL was unsuccessful 97.1% of the time.

Meanwhile, Doug Free had one of the best pass protection years in the NFL last season at left tackle. He surrendered 5 sacks in 668 pass protection situations last season. His success rate was 99.3%. Even Marc Colombo, who many of us believe needs to be replaced, only surrendered 7 sacks in 615 situations. (98.9% of the time, he did not allow a sack). The question is how much do you have to "babysit" a player with extra help, slide protections, or quick throws?

So, the man in front of Tamba Hali was getting beat worse than anyone, but still won 97.1%. A guy doing great has a success rate of 99.3% The point here is that there is a very small margin for error in the NFL. If great is 99% and horrid is 97%, then we must understand that tackles will get beat, but the question is "how often" and is it fixable?

With Solder, I suspect that like Robert Gallery, you cannot fix a player that is too upright and for all his measure-ables still cannot get to the edge. But, with Smith, he gets to the edge just fine and also recovers when he gets beat there. If Smith has issues, it is not normally in pass protection.

So, will Tyron Smith get beat this year? Yes. Perhaps 6 or 7 times for sacks. But, after watching several of his games in college and looking at his physical talents, I believe by year 3 or 4, he will be one of those tackles who you leave alone, because you know he has his guy taken care of.

If the Cowboys stick at #9, this is the guy. I feel very strongly about this one.

Here is some of his tape on youtube. I do caution you to remember these are just small clips, but there is some disconcerting tape here. You can see he will need his added size and weight to stand up in the run game especially. He is #70.

9/11/10 - Vs Virginia

10/16/10 - Vs California

11/20/10 - Vs Oregon State

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