DALLAS — Another list of the top players in the NFL and another placement for Tyron Smith.
According to Sam Monson from Pro Football Focus, the Dallas Cowboys' All-Pro left tackle came in at No. 41 on Pro Football Focus' list of the top 50 players in the NFL with training camp just around the corner.
"Smith was back to his best this past season despite missing some time due to injury," Monson wrote. "He posted a 90.0-plus overall PFF grade for the first time since 2015, allowing just 17 pressures across more than 500 pass-blocking snaps. Smith finished with PFF grades of at least 87.0 as both a run blocker and a pass protector."
Smith's placement on the list, regardless of where he lands, underscores how important he is to the Cowboys' offensive line. Aside from 2015, when franchise quarterback Tony Romo sustained two collarbone fractures and the team started three additional backup signal callers, the Cowboys have never had a losing season when Smith has started at least 10 games.
When the former 2011 first-round pick from USC is protecting the quarterback's blindside, the Cowboys have a reasonable chance to contend for a playoff spot. Some years have ended .500; others have warranted NFC East titles. Smith's elite protection has been a huge factor, and his absence has highlighted how invaluable it is as much as his stellar play on the field.
The ranking for the eight-time Pro Bowler also demonstrates that Smith didn't fall out of the upper echelon of NFL players, let alone offensive linemen, just because he was limited to two games in 2020. The 31-year-old bounced back and gave Dallas superb protection. Quarterback Dak Prescott set a new team record for passing touchdowns in a season (37), and running back Ezekiel Elliott stacked his fourth season of at least 1,000 yards rushing.
Going forward, injuries and availability are going to be a concern for Smith. The 6-foot-5-inch, 320-pound tackle played 11 games in 2021. Smith hasn't played a complete season since 2015. With the NFL expanding to 17 games, perhaps expecting any player to play a full season is a bit much, but the 10- to 12-game threshold that Smith is in could signal a slight decline.
The Cowboys are still in great hands with Smith at left tackle. While he may have made 41st place on PFF's list, Smith is still the Cowboys' No. 1 option to protect their franchise quarterback and clear running lanes for their feature back.
Do you agree with the rating for Tyron Smith at No. 41 overall in the NFL? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.
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