Young Guns: Tyron Smith

Since 2010 the Cowboys have done a better job of finding talent. As a core of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer and Doug Free inch closer to the end of their careers, the Cowboys need a group of young players heading into their primes to take ownership of the team. Cowboys reporters Calvin Watkins and Todd Archer analyze those players from the class of 2010 on.

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys had an opportunity to pick up first- and second-round picks from the Jacksonville Jaguars for the ninth overall selection, but chose to ignore the offer and draft Tyron Smith.

Smith has started all but one game in his career and will play in his first Pro Bowl on Sunday. He has made the successful jump from right tackle to left tackle, and could be the next great Cowboys’ offensive lineman.

Oh, and he does not turn 24 until December.

After a so-so 2012 season in which he made the move from right tackle to protecting Romo's blindside, Smith blossomed in 2013. He was penalized only eight times this past season, and just once in the second half. In 2012 he had 11 penalties. The Cowboys averaged 5.28 yards per carry when running to their left tackle.

In pass protection, he allowed one sack.

Smith has the athleticism to handle the outside pass-rushers and strong hands to take on more powerful players. The hiccups he had as a rookie and in his second year were much less frequent in his third season.

Head coach Jason Garrett also sees a player moving into a leadership role with the team. After the team cut Jay Ratliff, Garrett moved Smith to one of the lockers by an entrance, across from Witten. The other players afforded such lockers are Romo, Sean Lee, Ware and Free.

In Smith and Travis Frederick, their first-round pick in 2012, the Cowboys have the foundation pieces to their offensive line for years to come.

In Smith, they might have the best left tackle in football for years to come.

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