DALLAS — There is a long-term reason that the Dallas Cowboys worked their top overall draft pick Tyler Smith at left tackle during the second week of organized activities at The Star.
The most obvious reason is to give the club options in a post-Tyron Smith world. The more practical reason is to give the game day roster flexibility.
"There’s a long-term reason to this, too, and it’s big picture because I think when you get your eight linemen," coach Mike McCarthy told reporters June 2. "This is the way my mind works. I’m thinking about the 53. I’m thinking about game day. I’m thinking about who’s going to be up, who’s going to be down."
In terms of the starting five offensive linemen, Smith figures to be the new left guard. However, should there be any in-game availability issues, Smith's versatility to kick out to left tackle could be very useful.
In 2020, the Cowboys used the versatility of right guard Zack Martin to help out with issues at right tackle. With Tyron Smith and La'el Collins both lost after the first two weeks of the season, and Dallas relying upon undrafted free agent rookie Terence Steele and Brandon Knight, the Cowboys had to shuffle the line to find the best five-man combination. Martin's versatility allowed Dallas to weather the storm, although the wave of injuries, eventually even to Martin, capsized their season with the Cowboys finishing 6-10.
McCarthy says he and vice president of player personnel Will McClay talk daily about the position flex of players up and down the roster — not just across the offensive line.
"Will and I talk about this conversation daily where we’re looking at players and the players we were looking at this morning," said McCarthy. "Does he do two things? I think it’s important for players, unless they’re a quarterback or a kicker or a specialty position, that they have to bring two things to the table. Because if they don’t, their ability to be up on game day is obviously limited.”
McCarthy admits that the stress of learning two positions has been "tough" on Smith, but appreciates the progress he has made after a month.
"Love the way he’s wired," McCarthy said. "He’s very aggressive. Has an alpha personality even as a young man. He’ll continue to grow. I think he’s impressed the veteran players so far."
The emphasis on Smith's flexibility along the left side gives the Cowboys options in case injuries strike again.
Do you think Tyler Smith is ready to lock down an O-line job or should he be used at multiple positions? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.