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2022 NFL Draft: Tulsa tackle Tyler Smith is the bodyguard every NFL team needs

Physicality in the trenches is more than just physical strength. It’s a mentality. From willpower to pride, Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith embodies physicality in every way.

“Anybody who steps across from me is kind of like an enemy, and I gotta make sure when I put them down, they're gonna think twice about getting back up,” Smith recently told PFF.

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The 2022 NFL Draft offers a deep offensive line class. Among the top trench players, many bring a distinct element of nastiness to their game — not just blocking their assignments, but completely taking them out of play. Of that long list of players, you’d still be hard pressed to find a player who can match Smith's finishing mentality. 

“People are trying to hurt my quarterback,” Smith said. “That's my brother, and now it's my job to protect him. I'm really protecting somebody's life back there.”

The Fort Worth, Texas native has earned solid PFF grades over his two years as a starter. He followed up an 86.2 overall grade with an 88.4 run-blocking grade in 2020 with an elite 92.1 overall grade and 93.9 run-blocking grade in 2021.

Tyler Smith Blocking Grades | 2020-2021
Season Overall Grade Pass-Block Run-Block
2020 86.2 78.4 88.4
2021 92.1 75.3 93.9

Though Smith has plenty of plays that “wow” you in a good way, his full game film shows some signs that he’s raw to the position. That’s because he really hasn’t been playing offensive line very long.

From pee wee football through middle school and even into high school, Smith played along the defensive line. It wasn't even his idea to switch to the offensive line. Essentially the move came out of necessity. 

During his sophomore high school season — his final season of playing defensive line — Smith’s teammate and quarterback cracked his spine after taking a hit.  Smith’s coach came to him the following offseason about a position change to become a protector for his quarterback. From that point forward, Smith wanted to be an offensive linemen because he wanted to make sure no one ever hurt his friend again — a mentality he still has to this day.

Over his two seasons of high school ball, Smith earned a three-star recruiting ranking and received scholarship offers from the likes of Houston, Navy, New Mexico and Tulsa, ultimately choosing the Golden Hurricane as his collegiate home. Smith redshirted his first season but started two of his team’s final four games, which gave him momentum into Year 2. He's been a starter for two more seasons. 


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