The Dallas Cowboys have been very open about their plans to replace injured left tackle Tyron Smith with an in-house option, and Jerry Jones confirmed on Tuesday that they'll do exactly that. Jones said during a radio interview that it's "safe to say" rookie first-round pick Tyler Smith will take Tyron's spot along the offensive line.
The Cowboys had been using Tyler Smith at left guard throughout the preseason, though he had been rotating in that spot along with veteran Connor McGovern. Dallas had planned for Tyler Smith to start next to Tyron Smith as he adjusted to life in the NFL, then take over as the team's left tackle of the future after Tyron's career came to an end.
Tyler Smith spent his college career at Tulsa, and starting his career at guard with the experienced and consistently excellent Tyron Smith next to him was meant to ease his transition into the league, and likely also provide him with a guidepost for how to play tackle in the future. Now, that process will be sped up considerably.
Jones, though, is confident that the rookie can handle it.
"He's a rookie, but he's a first-round pick and he deserved to be a first-round pick, in my mind," Jones said, per The Athletic. "You expect (your first- and second-round picks) to play, and I think that basically we thought that when we used that first pick on Tyler."
The Dallas offensive line will now have three new starters to open the season, with only center Tyler Biadasz and All-Pro right guard Zack Martin as holdovers. The Cowboys cut La'el Collins this offseason and plan to replace him with the team's former swing tackle, Terence Steele, while left guard Connor Williams was allowed to leave for a free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins and will be replaced by McGovern.
For a team that saw its offense take a nosedive toward the end of last season amid various offensive line issues, this shuffling could pose a considerable problem unless the combination of Dak Prescott, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, and head coach Mike McCarthy can come up with some better workarounds than they did a year ago.