Player Profile #20 – OT Tyron Smith

Surgery on his right knee back in December may be contributing to a first-round slide by Southern Cal OT Tyron Smith.

During the 2010 season, Smith injured his knee and ended up missing one game. But he returned and finished out the season, before having surgery on the meniscus in his right knee on December 17. That kept him from doing all the on-field work at the NFL Combine in late February.

But he bounced back in late March at Southern Cal’s Pro day and did just about every physical test, including the 40-yard dash that he did in just under 5 seconds. By the time the NFL’s medical re-check in early April, the knee showed signs of hard work and was not 100 percent. His doctor told Pro Football Weekly “it would seem that in his efforts to further expedite his recovery, it looks like he pushed himself a little too hard.”

There’s going to be great discussion in the league about Smith because he’s such a gifted physical specimen. As an example he has a wing span of 85¾ inches. That’s the distance between the tips of his fingers when he stands and holds his arms straight out. That’s right at 7 feet. But concerns about the knee may push him down the first round and right into the lap of a team that can be patient.

Here’s his story.

PERSONAL BUSINESS

Tyron Smith

Born – December 12, 1990 in Moreno Valley, California.

Family – Parents are Roy and Kathleen Smith.

BODY OF WORK

  • Height – 6-feet, 5 inches.
  • Weight – 307 pounds.
  • Arm – 36½ inches.
  • Hand – 11 inches.
  • 40-yard dash – 4.93 seconds (Pro Day.)
  • 20-yard dash – 2.87 seconds.
  • 10-yard dash – 1.69 seconds.
  • Bench press – 29 repetitions at 225 pounds (31 reps.)
  • Vertical jump – 29 inches.
  • Broad jump – 9-feet, 1-inch.

INJURY NOTE – He had surgery in December 2010 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and that limited some of his pre-Draft workouts. At the Southern Cal Pro Day, he was able to do just about everything.

HIGH SCHOOL

Smith graduated with the class of 2008 from Rancho Verde High School in the Val Verde Unified School District in Moreno Valley, California. It’s one of the communities that make up the area between San Bernadino and Riverside on the eastern edge of the Los Angeles sprawl.

He was a three-year starter for Mustangs and coach Pete Duffy and played on both sides of the ball.

FOOTBALL

2007 – Smith was named a Parade Magazine All-America as he played on both sides of the ball for the Mustangs, who finished 8-4 and lost to Colton in the second round of the CIF playoffs.

2006 – As a junior he was named to the All-CIF Central Division first team and he earned second-team All-Riverside County designation from the Riverside Press-Enterprise. The Mustangs were 9-3, before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Elsinore.

2005 – Started as a sophomore for Rancho Verde, as the Mustangs went 4-6 on the season.

RECRUITING

Smith was listed by most scouting services as a five-star recruit, and one service labeled him the best offensive tackle prospect coming out of high school. That drew the interest of just about every major program in the country, but he received offers from Southern Cal, UCLA, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota and Oregon. He committed to the Trojans in June of 2007.

COLLEGE

Smith was a public policy, management and planning major at the University of Southern Cal.

2010 – He started 12 games at RT and earned first-team All Pac-10 honors and won the Morris Trophy, given to the conference’s top offensive lineman each year. Smith missed the Notre Dame game due to a knee injury. Several times he moved to left tackle for a few snaps.

2009 – Smith started 12 games at RT and earned All-Pac 10 honorable mention. He missed Emerald Bowl because of academic issues.

2008 – Appearing in 10 games, Smith served as backup left tackle behind Charles Brown and played mainly on special teams. He missed the Notre Dame game because of a sprained ankle.

INJURIES – He’s been nicked several times in his short career. He missed the ’08 game against Notre Dame because of a sprained ankle. He would miss the Notre Dame game in ’10 because of a knee injury that eventually required surgery after the season.

Plus, he had surgery on his right thumb a year ago, prior to spring practice.

EVALUATION FOR PRO FOOTBALL

Strengths – Good athlete with quick feet that makes him a top-notch college pass protector. He’s quick off the snap and when he latches on to a defender, he’s seldom thrown. Great shuffle of his feet and with his long arms he can slide a pass rusher to the outside with few problems. He’s very mobile with good speed and quickness and can lead a sweep. He has a body that can get bigger and much stronger, creating a huge upside there.

Weaknesses – Concentration and focus has been a problem for Smith. When his mind wanders he relies almost totally on his athletic gifts. He needs to get much stronger as he doesn’t get much push backwards once he hits the defense. Smith must work on his fundamentals and technical details which are very inconsistent right now.

Analysis – Maturity is something that must be considered with Smith, more emotionally than physically. He turned 20 years old in December, so he will be as young a player to enter the NFL as we’ve seen. His body and skills are perfect for left tackle, but almost all of his snaps have come on the right side. Smith is far from a finished product and will take some patience as he gets stronger, smarter and more experienced. But, the league does not often see players with his physical gifts and it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to get one.

WHAT THE SCOUTS SAY

A scout for an AFC team said – “If you could go into a factory and create a mold for offensive tackles and manufacture them, the mold would look like this kid. He’s got to get stronger, but given what he’s done so far and what the good Lord gave him, he should be able to do that.”

An offensive line coach for an NFC team said – “I thought that the kid from Virginia a couple years ago had the best tools to play in the league (D’Brickashaw Ferguson), but this kid is right there with him.”

WHAT OTHERS SAY

Offensive line coach Marty Spaulding who helps run summer camps for NIKE: “He was great as an underclassman, but he’s even better now. We’ve traveled all over the country for the NIKE Camps, and I haven’t seen a better lineman. He’s that good. He’s amazing. If you could make a blueprint of what an offensive lineman should look like and play like, it’s him.”

DOES HE FIT WITH THE CHIEFS?

At first glance, he probably doesn’t quite fit the profile of players that Pioli/Haley tends to go after. He’s had some nagging injuries and in three short seasons on the college level that has called into question his durability. Plus he’s very young and immature. But physical tools like his don’t come along all the time. If he lands with the right team and gets the right coaching, he could be a factor in the NFL for years to come.

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