IRVING, Texas – Tyron Smith has as much talent as any rookie offensive lineman that Hudson Houck can remember.
“Now Larry Allen had a lot of talent, so we’re talking about some pretty high standards here,” said Houck, a 29-year NFL coaching veteran. “He has a tremendous amount of talent and I think what is mostly important with him, he really wants to be good. After every practice, it’s, ‘Coach, will you help me on this?’ He wants extra work after every, single, practice.
“This guy is going to be eventually a very good football player.”
Eventually? Houck might actually be underselling the first-round pick’s performance to this point.
According to ProFootballFocus.com’s grading system, the 20-year-old Smith has been the fourth-best tackle in the NFL this season. Tennessee’s Michael Roos, Philadelphia’s Jason Peters and Green Bay’s Bryan Bulaga are the only tackles the website, which analyzes every snap, has graded higher.
Houck, however, sees a kid who has hardly scratched the surface of his potential. In his eyes, Smith is good now. Houck can’t wait to see Smith after he adds 10 to 12 pounds in Mike Woicik’s offseason program and continues to learn the nuances of playing tackle in the NFL.
The immediate concern is making sure that Smith doesn’t hit a rookie wall. Houck isn’t worried about the physical toll, but he’s curious to see how Smith handles the challenge of the mental grind.
“Consistency is the important thing,” Houck said. “It’s a long season. We’ll see how it goes at the end of the season. This is tough on these young kids, now. Right now, he’d be getting ready for finals or whatever.”
At the very least, Smith aced his first NFL mid-term.