To preview the 2022 NFL season, ESPN staff writer Jeremey Fowler gathered surveys from more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to help us stack the top 10 players at 11 different positions.
Friday morning, they released their top-10 rankings for offensive tackles. Surging upward from nine in 2021 to five entering 2022 is Dallas’ former All-Pro Left Tackle, Tyron Smith.
“Smith spent 2021 reminding us all what happens when he’s healthy: Defenders get thrown around,” Fowler said. “In 11 games played, Smith posted the highest Pro Football Focus rating of his career at 91.9, and his 78.3% run block win rate was No. 7 among tackles. He’s known to have two of the heaviest hands in the modern NFL, which helps for clubbing pass-rushers off the play.”
“I know he’s old and injured, but I don’t care,” said an NFL coordinator who voted him No. 1. “He’s still the best. … Athleticism and strength accented by vet savvy and toughness.”
Smith last played a full NFL season in 2015. But that’s OK for Dallas, which has an elite tackle on a major discount. Smith has two years left on an eight-year, $97.6 million deal. The payout of $12.2 million per year ranks 25th among tackles.
Ranking above Smith was second-year player Rashawn Slater (4th) – who many wanted the Cowboys to draft in the 2021 draft over Micah Parsons.
Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari was third, Tampa Bay’s Tristan Wirfs was second and San Francisco’s Trent Williams came in first.
For as much grief as Dallas’ front office has faced in recent years, it’s no denying that the handling of Smith’s deal has been one of the best decisions made in recent years.
Pro Football Focus ranked Smith’s deal the best for the Cowboys.
When we look back at the 2010s decade of the NFL, this contract will land on the list of best values across the entire league. It’s hard to overstate just how much surplus value Smith has provided the Cowboys since signing his eight-year extension in 2014.
Smith has generated 1.92 PFF Wins Above Replacement since 2014 (fourth among tackles) while never receiving more than $11.08 million in cash in any season.
Smith has suffered the effects of aging and playing 100-plus games in the NFL. But at 31, he’s still one of the elite players at his position.
As long as Smith and Zack Martin are suiting up for the Dallas Cowboys, their offensive line will always have credibility across the NFL.
According to Michael Renner from Pro Football Focus, who released a power ranking of all 32 offensive lines and grouped them by tiers, the Cowboys are No. 6 and in the “high floor” category in tier 2.
ESPN’s Rankings (6-10)
6. Laremy Tunsil, HOU
7. Lane Johnson, PHI
8. Ronnie Stanley, BAL
9. Ryan Ramczyk, NO
10. Terron Armstead, MIA
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