The Las Vegas Raiders opted to address other needs instead of offensive tackle in free agency which did improve the roster but left them with a hole on the offensive line. With the NFL Draft coming up, the Raiders will have another opportunity to fill said void, and Tulsa’s Tyler Smith would be a great mid-round option.
OT | Tulsa | 6’4 5/8” and 324 lbs | Fort Worth, TX | April 3rd, 2001 (21.0)
Tyler Smith came to Tulsa as a three-star recruit and the 133rd-ranked guard in the country for the 2019 class, per 247 Sports. As a true freshman, he got some playing time late in the year and made a couple of starts before locking down the starting left tackle spot in years two and three. He allowed just 18 pressures on 896 opportunities in his career, while also earning PFF run-blocking grades of 72.6, 88.4 and 93.9 as a freshman, sophomore and junior, respectively.
It’s also worth noting that Smith did miss the first game of 2021 while serving a suspension for his involvement in a post-game brawl during the previous season’s bowl game.
- Good size and athleticism for an NFL offensive tackle, 34” arms and an 8.76 RAS score
- Pretty quick off the ball
- Uses 45-degree sets in pass protection and has good agility to cover ground laterally
- Keeps his shoulders back and maintains posture when punching, and he has good hand placement with his one arm punch that allows him to use his long arms to create space from the pass rusher
- Strong grip to help stay engaged with edge rushers which can also help combat countermoves
- A decent athlete in a phone booth with the change of direction to also help against counters, if he keeps his feet moving more consistently
- Mentally alert in pass protection, he has no problems recognizing and picking up stunts and had to work with/overcome a guard who had several missed assignments
- Realizes when the pass rusher has reached the point of no return and has the strength to ride defensive ends past the quarterback
- He has the lower body strength to dig his heels in the ground against bull rushers, combined with the upper body strength to get some lift and alter the rusher’s momentum a bit
- His footwork is great on outside zone runs. Without a pre-snap leverage advantage, he uses a bucket step to get a better angle and when he does have the leverage advantage, he gains ground with his first step to help put his body in a position to cut off the defensive lineman.
- Good hip mobility to reach five techniques and cut off 4is, and when he can’t get the edge, he moves his hands to the defender’s side and has the leg drive and strength to widen the defender and create a rushing lane
- Physical as the first blocker on combo blocks to help the guard turn the defensive end’s shoulders, and his hip mobility and agility allow him to take over and scoop the defensive lineman as the second blocker
- On base blocks, his upper body strength and sturdy base allow him to survive initial contact from EDGEs and avoid getting reset
- Keeps his feet moving through contact and has the leg drive, strength and finishing mentality to put defensive ends on the ground
- Takes good angles on down blocks to keep his head inside and he can collapse defensive tackles inside
- Takes efficient angles and pacing when working up to the second level, and he’s strong and physical at the point of attack to pancake linebackers. Also, he’ll adjust his path on the fly when the defensive lineman and linebacker gap exchange to pick up the backer.
- As a puller or on screens, he has good speed to get to his landmark and at the point of attack, he stays under control and uses a wide base to help avoid getting juked out of his shoes by defensive backs
Areas of Improvement:
- Lacks some discipline, he had the suspension mentioned above, he takes a lot of extra/unnecessary shots after the play and was called for 16 penalties in 12 games last season
- Doesn’t have a ton of experience in true pass sets, played in a scheme that only had him execute a true pass set on 35.7 percent opportunities last season, per PFF
- On his 45-degree sets, he has a habit of clicking his heels together which could cause issues with his base at the next level
- He’ll struggle against NFL speed rushers since he lacks some foot speed working backward in pass protection, especially when asked to vertical set
- Has some work to do with his punch in pass protection, he’s often late and wide with his hands, needs to mix up his timing as ends will time up his punch, and he doesn’t work to reset his hands after missing
- He has a habit of stopping his feet against stick moves or counters
- The late and wide hands open his chest to power rushers and he’ll kick his feet back or out to get leverage instead of dropping his butt, which could cause problems against EDGEs with a good stab or long arm move
- On inside zone runs he false steps which leads to him having to lean and getting beat across his face by slanting defensive lineman or swim moves. This also makes it easier for defenders to shed his block.
- Lack of knee bend shows up as a run blocker too, his pad level is a little high and limits some of the push he can get
- Late and wide hands show up on base blocks as well, letting defenders into his chest and leading to issues staying engaged against stronger defensive linemen
- In short-yardage situations when the linebackers are close to the line of scrimmage, he’s late to come off combo blocks when they crash or blitz
- When he gets beat, run or pass blocking, he’ll hold on for dear life and get called for holding penalties
NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 60th overall, 2nd round
Projections are kind of all over the place for Smith. He’s ranked 73rd overall on PFF’s board, was 85th on Dane Brugler’s back in mid-February and ranked 97th on NMDD just a few weeks ago. In other words, it looks like he’s firmly in the Day 2 category and it’s just a matter of if that means a late second-round selection or early third.
Schematically, the Tulsa product has a good amount of work to do in pass protection and would likely benefit from playing in a play-action-heavy offense as a rookie. As a run blocker though, Smith is a very intriguing prospect. I think he has the power and strength to be effective in a gap system and I like what he brings to the table as an outside zone blocker, so he’s somewhat scheme versatile in that regard. That being said, teams that run a lot of inside zone might be skeptical.
What do we need to know?
Can he cut down on the penalties and still play with the same fire between snap to whistle? Averaging over a penalty a game like Smith did this past season is a quick way to get on the offensive line coach’s and offensive coordinator’s bad side, especially as a rookie. He certainly needs to tone it down a notch, but his aggressiveness is also a strength so it’s a matter of finding the middle ground which can be difficult.
Fit with the Raiders:
When people think of Raiders’ offensive linemen, they picture someone like Smith. A mean, tough and rugged blocker who’s not afraid to mix it up and toes a fine line between being aggressive and a little dirty. While he’d have to make the switch from left to right tackle, he’d fill one of the team’s biggest needs and could start Week 1.
The problem is will he be there? As mentioned above, the former Golden Hurricane’s stock has been on the rise and Las Vegas doesn’t draft until the third round. I think there’s a chance he could fall into their laps and be the 86th overall pick, but that’s far from a guarantee and we’ll have to wait and see.
Tyler Smith (LT) blocks with a nice wide base and has plenty of strength, you can see an ex of that here pic.twitter.com/DbakVjUdp8— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 30, 2022
Outside zone, Tyler Smith (LT) turns a reach block into a drive block, gets his hands on the DE’s side & keeps his legs pumping to generate movement laterally pic.twitter.com/Afrzul0ZoV— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 30, 2022
Tyler Smith (LT), politely, asks this LB to take a seat… pic.twitter.com/qUThAMhlGD— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 30, 2022
Beautiful combo block from Tyler Smith (LT):— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 30, 2022
-Works to reach the end initially & recognizes the slant
-Changes his path up the field & turns the DE’s shoulders
-Climbs to LB, rides LB’s momentum & widens to create a 2nd level lane pic.twitter.com/qJOExDP7o1
So Tyler Smith (LT) is a mean and nasty dude lol pic.twitter.com/blkE3E4coE— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 30, 2022
Tyler Smith (LT) with a great reach block here:— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 30, 2022
-Loses ground w/ bucket step to get a better angle
-Displays quickness & agility to square on the DE
-Works his hips around & uses his grip strength to stay engaged & seal the edge
Tyler Smith (LT) has good speed for his size & can block in space pic.twitter.com/6yTFt9j0hO— Matt Holder (@MHolder95) March 30, 2022