The 2022 NFL Draft looks to be an interesting one.
It doesn’t have many true “blue chip” prospects, but it is well stocked with great depth at a number of positions. This year’s draft also seems to have a high number of talented prospects from small schools.
Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith, a junior, has already generated a significant following since declaring for the draft. It’s easy to see how people could fall in love with Smith, considering his size, athleticism, and play demeanor.
Could Smith help rebuild the Giants’ offensive line and help give their offense a physical edge?
Games Played: 26 (13 in 2021)
Best: Athleticism, play demeanor, length
Projection: A developmental offensive tackle with starting upside
(Smith is the left tackle, number 56)
Tyler Smith is a big, long, athletic, strong, and aggressive tackle prospect from the University of Tulsa.
Smith sports a prototypical build for an NFL offensive lineman, listed at 6-foot-6 and 332 pounds, he has evident power in his upper and lower body and carries little excess weight. He also has a surprising amount of lower body flexibility and fluidity. Smith flashes the ability to be a natural knee bender who can sit into his stance and keep his hips down throughout the snap, playing with good pad level. He has impressively fluid hips for a big and thick lineman, easily able to open them and move as a pulling blocker or when releasing into space on a screen play. Those fluid hips also allow him to quickly orient himself in space and effectively block defenders at the second level.
Smith is a punishing run blocker who routinely creates movement along the line of scrimmage. He has enough athleticism to stay in phase on the play-side or back side of outside zone runs, as well as plenty of power for down-hill man-gap schemes. Smith is easily able to stay in front of the play as a pulling blocker on any run that requires it and he is able to get to the second level in a hurry.
Smith has the ability to shut down opposing pass rushers and is able to deal with speed as well as power. His athleticism allows him to beat most speed rushers to landmarks, and he is able to hold up well against powr rushers.
Smith’s competitive toughness and play demeanor stand out as well. Simply put, he plays angry and seems to look for reasons to hit defenders or otherwise put them on the ground. He routinely strains to sustain his blocks, tries to drive defenders off the field, and consistently plays through the echo of the whistle.
That said, his aggressiveness can also work against him as well.
Smith has inconsistent and generally poor technique as a blocker. His hands are almost always low, wide, and late, generally leading to him giving up his chest plate and his hands winding up outside of defenders’ framework. That makes him prone to holding calls and also allows defenders to get early wins in pass rush reps.
Smith has the athleticism to recover and strength to re-anchor if he is initially beaten, but that happens too often. Also, Smith’s feet can stop – particularly against speed – leading to him lunging at defenders or his legs straightening and him losing leverage.
Overall Grade: 6.6
Smith’s projection is a complicated one, as he needs work to be a good NFL starter.
He has all the athletic traits necessary to be an every-week starting offensive tackle in the NFL, and likely a good one at that. He’s big, long, strong, and has great movement skills – and one of the nastiest play demeanors in the draft. However, he is currently held back by some bad technique.
At times it can appear as though Smith has no idea what to do with his hands and is just reacting on a moment-to-moment basis. He is capable of absolutely shutting EDGE players down, and his traits are absolutely tantalizing. Smith has plenty of athleticism to keep up with speed rushers like Myjai Sanders, and trying to use power against him is a fool’s errand.
However, he is very prone to holding penalties (which will only get worse in the NFL), and can appear to panic if he’s initially beaten. He will have a hard time in the NFL if he’s consistently giving up his chest plate, losing leverage, stopping his feet, or lunging at defenders. Granted, Smith flashes excellent field awareness and instincts as a blocker, but that isn’t consistent and he can’t rely on that at the NFL level.
It’s easy to fall in love with Smith for his athletic traits and mean streak, and it’s easy to see a team drafting him early because of them. However, he needs (a lot of) work to become an NFL caliber technician on the offensive line. A move to the interior might benefit Smith early in his career. He would be an exceptional athlete for the guard position, it would emphasize his length, strength, short-area quickness, and nasty streak. And as with Ereck Flowers, reducing the area for which Smith is responsible could give him the chance to improve his hand usage and get his hands in sync with his feet.
There’s a lot to like in Smith’s game and he could be a very good offensive lineman in the right situation. However teams will need a good plan and environment for growth in place for him to reach his ceiling.