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Tyler Smith
NFL Draft

Why You’ll Fall In Love With Tyler Smith Ahead Of 2022 NFL Draft

  • Ryan Fowler
  • January 5, 2022
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Road grader, mauler, interior mover, when you think about Tulsa’s Tyler Smith, a bevy of adjectives that describe his physical style of play often come to mind. But for Smith, dominating his opponent isn’t enough; winning the rep isn’t enough. He looks to staple your back to the dirt, and let you know about it, too. A freshman All-American selection in his redshirt campaign last fall, Smith was the driving force for the Golden Hurricane front five this season. Primarily working outside at left tackle, his truly nasty skill set has introduced an athlete that you, the reader, will fall in love with as we move closer to April. Trust me. When you look up the word ‘offensive lineman’ in the dictionary, Smith’s game exemplifies everything that is a quarterback protectant. Power? Check. Tenaciousness? Bold check. But, his game is much more than just impressive muscular endurance in which he has been able to physically impose his will on opposing defenders. Take a few of his reps against Cincinnati in 2020 for example. While his hands need work, what makes Smith such an intriguing prospect is his lower half, and the fluidity with which he works to smoothly kick step and maintain angles on edge defenders. While you initially get a glimpse of his elite vigor in the run game where he shows the ability to immediately seal his defender toward his outside hip, the NFL is a passing league and is where he will garner the most attention as an anchor for a signal-caller's blindside. However, as impressive as his tape has been with free space to his outside shoulder, and despite Smith offering ideal length for the position at 6-foot-6, his best days as a pro look to be on the inside, where TDN’s own Joe Marino believes Smith’s skill set will have team executives ‘pounding the table’ for his services when the draft rolls around. While it’s not a foregone conclusion that Smith will officially declare, thus forfeiting his remaining seasons of college eligibility, a soon-to-be 21-year-old with the fundamental traits he offers should warrant a large amount of interest from offensive line coaches begging to get their hands on the Tulsa product. While nailing down his true projection of where he will align at the next level has become an overbearing question regarding Smith this season, if teams opt to keep him outside at left tackle or over to the right side, at 335 pounds, that positional versatility and maneuverable, pro-ready frame is what has welcomed Smith into the conversation as a potential early day-two selection. While comparisons of his game have been made to Andre Smith of the 2009 class, who transitioned from left tackle to right tackle following his collegiate days at Alabama, a look back to last years draft in Landon Dickerson—who slid from center at Alabama to guard in Philadelphia—and Kelechi Osemele (2012), an impressively built interior presence who was dominant during his days in Oakland, both offer similar measurables to that of Smith to present a floor for just how impactful he could be before sprinkling in his enticing blend of traits. A class that is expected to see a handful of linemen come off the board on day one, grabbing a prospect like Smith after the headliners in Tyler Linderbaum, Evan Neal, Ikem Ekwonu, and Charles Cross come off the board could represent the steal of the entire class. One of the most physically dominant prospects on either side of the ball, his tape slots second to none of any draft-eligible prospect in this year's pool of talent.

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Ryan Fowler