Tulsa OT Tyler Smith may be a redshirt sophomore, but his 2022 NFL Draft scouting report shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some will think he left too early, but the Golden Hurricane standout showed more than enough on tape to earn an NFL opportunity. There are still things to clean up, but Smith could legitimately have some of the highest upside in the 2022 tackle class.
Tyler Smith NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: Tulsa
- Current Year: Redshirt Sophomore
- Height: 6’6″
- Weight: 332 pounds
Tyler Smith Scouting Report
There’s one thing you truly can’t teach, and that’s athleticism. Some schools are renowned for their athletic training programs, and prospects can undergo transformations in college. But some players just have higher athletic capacity than others. Athleticism is the prime unteachable trait, but it can be hard to teach physicality as well.
Much like athleticism, there are nuances. Some players find it easier to channel their physicality when they become more confident. That comes with experience. But at the same time, some players simply have a physical edge that others don’t have. This is why Smith is such an enticing prospect — because he has both unteachable traits mentioned here.
Smith’s athletic profile
Smith stands at 6’6″, 332 pounds. Predictably, he has a strong base and a dense frame, with excellent core strength and power absorption capacity. He also has the high-level strength and power capacity to redirect players and drive them out of plays. But for his size, he’s also an eye-catching athlete.
The Tulsa OT explodes out of his stance heading upfield. He gears up quickly and carries great momentum into his blocks. Moreover, he’s an energetic, twitched-up athlete who easily flows to the second level.
Smith is a smooth lateral mover with effortless knee bend and mobility in space. For his size, he’s exceptionally fluid and flexible. He’s able to seal defenders on reach blocks, and he has the short-range athleticism and burst to flip his hips and wall off rushers outside.
Smith matches most rushers around the edge with his high-end lateral mobility. With his athleticism and core strength, he has exceptional recovery capacity, which helps him mask some technical flaws. And once he earns control, he can take over reps with suffocating grip strength and overwhelming leg drive.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Smith is relatively raw, but there are some very promising flashes of execution on his tape, and his physicality compounds his upside.
Smith’s motor runs hot until the whistle blows on every rep. He has an aggressive mauler mentality, and he’s a relentless finisher with outrageous upper-body torque. Even in space, Smith doesn’t hold back. The Tulsa OT lunges at opponents and is proactive with his physicality. He can throw down defenders and drive them into the dirt.
Thankfully, Smith isn’t just a reckless mauler. There are things to clean up, but he has good flashes of operational promise. Smith has shown he can load and launch his hands, then snap his extensions forward with violent quickness. He’s able to lower his pads, channel great force into his blocks, and latch quickly. Upon latching, Smith uses his suffocating grip strength to swiftly nullify rushes.
While his hand placement is inconsistent, Smith has shown to successfully hook under his opponent’s pads and get his hands inside their torso. With his strong base, he can easily gather and negate power rushes. The Tulsa OT also flashes good awareness. He recognizes stunts and shifts his attention as the rep progresses. He also gives good effort on 2-on-1s and can chip interior blitzers before shading outside.
Areas for improvement
To use scouting speak, Smith is a “moldable ball of clay.” At his peak projection, he could legitimately be a dominant player. However, there’s a lot of work to do before he gets to that point.
Most notably, Smith’s hands can be sloppy and poorly placed. He places his hands too wide more frequently than preferred and opens up his torso to opposing power as a result. The Tulsa OT needs to target inside the torso with more consistency. With an open torso and a staggered base, he can be easily knocked off balance. Furthermore, when Smith grabs outside the torso, he sometimes bear hugs opponents and draws penalties.
Smith’s timing and feel with his hands can improve. He exposes his torso too often and can be late to punch. He sometimes telegraphs his moves and exposes his chest with long wind-ups. Additionally, Smith’s two-handed punches can be uncoordinated, and he sometimes extends before his base is set.
Smith lacks synergy with his hands and feet too often. He doesn’t always max out his violent capacity as a result. His footwork can at times be staggering, and he could better roll his base along the edge. Smith’s pass sets aren’t always consistent, either. His kick has some variance, and he doesn’t always keep his base. The Tulsa OT can better leverage his hips with opponents off the snap. Among other things, Smith sometimes lurches and overshoots blocking angles in space, sacrificing leverage.
Smith’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Smith’s technique is inconsistent enough that he probably shouldn’t be relied upon as a Day 1 starter at the NFL level. Smith opens up his torso far too much and can be very grabby with his hands. His lower-body mechanics are a bit better, and his smooth athleticism helps. But even there, he can be a bit staggered and uncoordinated.
Smith’s game is imperfect at the moment. But in a sense, it makes it more impressive to see how much he won at the collegiate level. Even with imperfect mechanics and timing, Smith was able to mask a lot of his deficiencies with his high-level athleticism, lateral agility, core and grip strength, and power. For his size, Smith doesn’t have too many mobility limitations. He bends his knees well, and he has the twitched-up style to supplement his violent disposition.
If Smith can clean up his technique, keep his hands tight, and smoothen his lower-body mechanics, he can be a high-level starting tackle. He could potentially move inside, but it’s not a necessary career move. For some players, a move inside is a move to combat an athletic limitation. Smith, however, has the lateral agility and recovery athleticism to stay on the blindside.
In their current form, Smith’s flaws would be easily exploitable at the NFL level. But the Tulsa OT has a starter’s skill set with his high-level combination of explosiveness off the snap, lateral mobility, strength, upper-body torque, and violence. He’s worth a Day 2 pick and could get some top-50 love from teams. If he can channel his traits, his ceiling is extremely high.
Smith’s Player Profile
The sheer number of recruits that come out each cycle can sometimes be overwhelming. Thus, it’s easy for talented players to slip through the cracks. In the 2019 class, Smith was one of those players.
Despite measuring in at 6’4″, 312 pounds out of North Crowley High School, the Fort Worth native was only a three-star recruit on 247Sports and barely cracked the top 250 nationwide. Smith fielded offers from Houston and Navy but chose to travel to Oklahoma and attend Tulsa University.
Smith’s career at Tulsa
Smith quickly made Power Five schools regret overlooking him on the recruiting trail. Although he redshirted his first season, he hit the ground running in 2020. Even in a COVID-impacted redshirt freshman season, Smith emerged as a dominant blindside blocker for the Golden Hurricane. In his first year as a full-time starter, Smith earned first-team All-AAC honors and carried with him a great deal of preseason hype in 2021.
Tougher competition brought out some more adversity for Smith, but the Tulsa OT still had a strong campaign in 2021, putting up solid reps against talents like Zach Harrison, Tyreke Smith, and Myjai Sanders. Smith once again received All-AAC honors, this time on the second team. Eventually, he’d follow up his second campaign with an NFL Draft declaration.
Smith’s NFL Draft ascension
If evaluation is purely projecting what prospects can be, then it’s hard not to be excited about Smith. He can be a legitimate blue-chip talent on offense if he puts everything together. The problem is, there’s a lot he needs to do to get to that point. Both Smith’s upper and lower-body mechanics need significant fine-tuning, and he also needs to be more consistent in keeping his upper and lower body in sync.
Smith’s astronomical upside provides a nice silver lining, as does his all-out competitive mentality. There’s also this: Smith will turn just 21 years old in April. He’s still incredibly young and is only scratching the surface of what he can do. If he goes to a team where he can sit for a bit and receive good coaching, he could truly become a star.