The Dallas Cowboys could seek to replace a longtime veteran with some young blood in the offseason.
The Cowboys may be forced to look for a replacement for eight-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith, according to Bleacher Report’s Matt Holder.
The longtime offensive tackle, who will be 33 by season’s end, is due to hit free agency in the offseason. Although Smith has been one of the best offensive linemen in the league since he was drafted in 2011, age and wear-and-tear have caused him to miss 33 games over the past four seasons. Smith missed just 13 games over his first nine seasons.
Why the Cowboys Could Seek Patrick Paul as Tyron Smith’s Replacement
One potential replacement could be found in the 2024 NFL draft in the University of Houston’s Patrick Paul. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle is a mountain of a man, and Holder suggested the Cowboys would be smart to “kick the tires” on drafting an offensive lineman.
“Tyron Smith is an impending free agent and has struggled to stay healthy over the past few seasons,” Holder wrote in a December 4 story about each NFL team’s roster weakness heading into Week 14. “The Cowboys would be smart to kick the tires on offensive linemen in the draft, and Paul would be a good target as he currently holds a second-round grade on B/R’s NFL draft big board.”
Paul has a “nasty, tone-setting demeanor,” according to Bleacher Report’s Brandon Thorn.
“Paul has elite length with solid movement skills and good play strength,” Thorn said. “He also brings a nasty, tone-setting demeanor that isn’t always present in tackles which makes him especially fun to study on tape.”
Patrick Paul Considered a Top 5 Offensive Tackle in 2024 NFL Draft
Paul, a fifth-year senior, has served as the Cougars’ starting left tackle since the 2021 season. He was named a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2023 and a first-team All-AAC selection in 2021 and 2022, when the Cougars were still in the American Athletic Conference.
Paul’s size and aggressive play make him one of the top tackles in next year’s draft. According to NFL Draft Buzz, the 23-year-old senior is the fifth-ranked tackle in this year’s draft.
Daniel Kelly of First Round Mock raved about Paul’s “aggressive” play but said he was “too raw” to be considered a first-round talent.
“University of Houston left tackle Patrick Paul was extremely aggressive on every rep in this three-game block of film study from 2022,” Kelly wrote in October 2023. “From that standpoint, Paul moves the meter, but he is not a first-round valuation. I love his physicality and aggressive nature so much I could send him a Valentine’s Day card. However, first-round grades are reserved for dynamic elite talent and Paul was too raw to fit that description last season.”
Though Smith is obviously up there in age and has an injury-filled past, his play remains among the best in the league. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith has posted an 86.5 offensive grade and 89.2 pass-blocking grade this season. He actually ranks second in offensive grade and is the highest-ranked player among all tackles in pass blocking (at least 100 offensive snaps).