When he came into the league in 2011 Tyron Smith had impressive metrics to go along with his technique and drive. 6’5”, 307 lbs, 36 3/8” arm length, 11” hand size, 4.93 40-yard dash, 1.69 10-yard split, 7.47 three-cone drill, 9’1” broad jump, and 31 reps on the bench press even with those long arms. A proto-type LT for the NFL. A perennial all-pro until the recurring injury in 2020 that caused him to miss almost the entire season PFF recently gave a Tyron Smith Ranking of 22 on their list of offensive tackles which is a huge drop for a consistent Top-10 player. How is Smith taking it?
Tyron Smith Ranking – Backstory
Smith reportedly injured his neck just as he came into the league. At first, the neck injury resulted in repetitive stingers. Then over the last few seasons, Smith began losing strength in his left arm. Playing through the problems the all-pro seasons continued. Smith excelled, plateaued, then began a slow decline compensating for his physical drop-off with experience and technique. Still a highly effective player but not as dominating as he was before when his strength, speed, quickness, acumen, and instincts all came together to make him one of if not the best LT in the NFL. Still performing at an all-pro level when his 2020 injury hit the Cowboys training staff and Smith decided it was no longer worth it to keep trying to play through it. Corrective surgery was needed and the prognosis for correction was good. After 2 games the 2020 season was history.
Tyron Smith Ranking – Reasoning
PFF came out with their annual rankings and they placed Smith in the middle of the pack. Their reasoning isn’t bad, it’s just incomplete.
Smith saw action in only two games last year due to injury, and it was a notable loss for the Cowboys. While he hadn’t been performing as he did from 2013 through 2016, when he ranked seventh or higher in PFF grade each year, Smith was still producing at a high level before he went down. In the three years prior to 2020, he was the 12th-highest-graded tackle in the entire NFL. According to Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones, Smith is healthy and ready to roll in 2021, which is good news for Dallas and quarterback Dak Prescott.PFF OT Rankings
PFF fails to take into account the reality that Smith was playing at an all-pro level with 1/2 of an arm on his left side. He wasn’t able to work out, his back was wonky, life was not good but still, he performed. Couple with that the results of the surgery and how it has affected Smith’s offseason preparation and I predict the opposite of what PFF has. I look for Smith to return to top-10 status this season. Maybe higher.
Tyron Smith Ranking – Where We Are Now
Smith is “stronger now than at any time he’s been in the league.” That is scary news to hear about a guy that has the rep “if he gets his hands on you it’s over.” Smith goes on to explain that now that the neck is fixed his back is sweet and he is finally able to fully work out for the first time in years. All of this has combined to give him increased mobility, quickness, and comfort in his day-to-day drills and activities. His teammates and coaches report he is “throwing weights around” with ease and has been a regular participant in off-season activities. To add more good news La’El Collins, the ‘Boys starting RT is also back from injury and taking part in the off-season activities. Good players on the line make it better for everyone.
The reports don’t sound like someone limping around. They sound like a 31-year-old LT in his prime physically but with 10 years of NFL experience under his belt. They sound like a recipe for getting mauled to death on running downs and tossed aside like a rag doll on passing downs for those that oppose him. They sound like a return to dominance, a power-left running game with Ezekiel Elliott with a LT that can do damage at the first and second levels. They sound like Dak Prescott with blind-side protection he can rely on. The reports sound like a very, very good year for the Cowboys’ offensive line.
Smith is reportedly taking it all in stride, but motivation is the home turf of the elite-level athlete. Look for Tyron Smith to have a monster season and the Cowboys’ OLine to regain their place in the top-tier of units in the NFL.
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on Twitter: Steven Van Over