Cowboys take OT Tyron Smith with No. 9 pick

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Speaking from the draft in New York, Smith certainly didn’t sound like a wide-eyed kid. (He also clarified that his first name is pronounced TIE’-run.)

Even though most projections had the Cowboys taking him, he wasn’t sweating it out when their allotted 10 minutes were almost over and his phone hadn’t rung.

“If they didn’t take me, they didn’t take me,” he said.

Asked if he was a Cowboys fan growing up in Southern California, he said his family rooted for Dallas and for the Rams but he didn’t really have a favorite team.

He said he doesn’t feel pressure to live up to being a top-10 pick, or being the rare offensive lineman drafted so high by the Cowboys. He preferred the term “expectations,” and constantly talked about working hard to live up to them.

“It’s not going to be easy and everybody knows that,” Smith said. “It’s about helping the team as much as I can.”

Smith weighed 285 pounds last season, way too light by NFL standards. He’s worked with a nutritionist to bulk up while staying lean _ he’s built sleek, more like an NBA power forward than a Nate Newton-esque lineman _ and has met the challenge of maintaining his new weight.

“It feel healthy, it feels like natural weight for me,” he said.

Jones said the Cowboys‘ initial evaluation of Smith was that he needed to gain weight. The fact he put it on, kept it on and remained svelte was what shot him near the top of our draft board.

“The more he was evaluated by our scouts, the better grade he got,” Jones said.

Dallas hadn’t picked an offensive lineman in the first round since 1981, when the Tom Landry-Tex Schramm leadership took Howard Richards at No. 26. He didn’t pan out, and neither have most of the linemen JonesCowboys have taken in the early rounds in recent years.

They whiffed with a second-round pick on Jacob Rogers, also of USC, and third-rounder Stephen Peterman in 2004, and they got little out of third-round pick James Marten in 2007. Robert Brewster, a third-rounder in 2009, also doesn’t look like he’s going to pan out.

The best Dallas has done with an offensive lineman recently is taking Doug Free in the fourth round in ‘07. He started at left tackle last year and is expected to do so again next season. Once Smith is ready to move to the left side, Free could be moved to the right side, which is where he first broke into the starting lineup in 2009 when Colombo was injured.

“We could switch them very easily,” Houck said. “We know we have a good left tackle right now. We’ll see how that goes.”

Now that Dallas has a pair of 20-something players at tackle, it may look to get younger on the interior of the line. But coming off a 6-10 season, the Cowboys have other, bigger concerns.

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