Tyron Smith made his Lions visit yesterday and is a strong candidate to become the Lions first round draft pick on April 28. Let’s take a look at him:
Tyron Smith, OT, USC
Weight: 307 lbs.
Arm Length: 36 3/8 in.
Hand Size: 11 in.
40-yard dash: 4.88 sec
225 lb bench press: 29 reps
Smith is one of the best prospects on the hoof in this class. Blessed with an ideal NFL frame and has the outstanding feet and athleticism necessary to be a starting left tackle. Does a great job staying in front of speed rushers, locks on and sustains, and can anchor against the bull rush. Shows solid power in the running game and is really productive out in space. Football IQ is lacking. Fails to find his target at times in the running games and is a tick slow recognizing blitzes. Smith could come off the board early in the first round due to his rare physical gifts.
Tyron Smith has the athletic ability to become a very good left tackle despite never playing on the left side at USC. He certainly could have been a dominant left tackle at the college level but remained on the right side for the sake of consistency due to highly regarded players entering the USC program before and after Smith. Scouts love his athleticism while noting his size and growth potential. The National Football Post perfectly sums up Tyron Smith as an NFL draft prospect in their final impression:
A gifted athlete for the position who at only 20 years old is far from a finished product. However, the flexibility, athleticism, frame and body control are all there for this guy to develop into a very good starting left or right tackle in the NFL, depending on where he feels comfortable.
Tyron Smith represents great pick value if he were to go to the Lions at 13th overall. While offensive tackle is not one of the team’s biggest needs, selecting could Tyron Smith helps to ensure the health of Matthew Stafford for the next decade; potentially from the right side if Gosder Cherilus is slow to return from microfracture surgery and from the left side when Jeff Backus retires (incidentally, Smith is nearly identical in size to Jeff Backus).
Smith enters the draft as one of the youngest prospects that will be selected this year. As such, many of the criticisms noted in scouting reports can be attributed to youth. ESPN rates his awareness as simply “average” with the following explanation:
Area of weakness. Still raw with natural instincts. Can be a second late recognizing blitzes and defensive line movement in protection. Usually assignment sound in the run game but can have problems locating targets at the second level on occasion.
It seems reasonable to expect that this will improve with experience. ESPN also notes that Smith’s work ethic is adequate but lacks some of the passion for the game that NFL teams desire. Assuming the claim is true, it is another negative that could change with maturing. Anthony Castonzo or Gabe Carimi may be more pro-ready right now but Tyron Smith could end up as the best offensive tackle to come out of this draft when we look at each career in review.
Where Lions fans stand on this pick probably has more to do with their own personal draft strategy of choice rather than Tyron Smith in particular. If you’re down with the Lions taking an offensive tackle then Tyron Smith looks great, if you’re against an offensive tackle in the first round then you won’t like Smith (to the Lions).