Tyron Smith continues to climb, Dez Bryant falls to 33rd among NFL WRs
IRVING — Jason Garrett said Tuesday that every part of Tyron Smith’s game has improved since the Dallas Cowboys drafted the 6-5, 318-pound offensive tackle with the ninth overall pick in 2011.
In 43 career starts, Smith has gone from a rookie right tackle to a second-year left tackle that Garrett says is playing at a Pro Bowl level.
“The thing that jumped out at you was his athleticism, he was quick, he’s fast, he’s long,” the Cowboys head coach said. “He has all the traits you want in a left tackle. But really what distinguishes him in my mind is his toughness. He’s a tough guy, physically. He’s a tough guy, mentally.
“We saw that right from the start. He worked very hard after practice in his first training camp just simply to get better. If you remember, he came in during a lockout year, so he had to learn quickly. He played right from Minute One on his first day of training camp and got knocked around a little bit. The other guy won a lot. He just kept battling back.”
The folks at Pro Football Focus also seem to be impressed with the improvement Smith has made on tape. Over the last two months, Smith has climbed from being PFF’s 20thranked offensive tackle to No. 12.
Over the Cowboys’ last four games, Smith, who finished 41st among tackles last season, has been given a positive grade by the website.
Interested in how some of the other Cowboys have been graded? Here’s an up-to-date PFF grade book summary.
– Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray are ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions. Murray is eighth among running backs. Only RBs ahead of him: Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, San Diego’s Danny Woodhead, Cincinnati’s Giovani Bernard, New Orleans’ Pierre Thomas and New Orleans’ Darren Sproles.
– Romo is ninth among quarterbacks. Chicago’s Josh McCown is eighth and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill is seventh. Some of the notable QBs Romo is ranked ahead of: Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, New England’s Tom Brady and Carolina’s Cam Newton.
– Right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau continues to improve. Bernadeau has received a positive grade each of the last three games and he’s the Cowboys’ highest-rated guard at 22nd overall.
– Travis Frederick continues to be solid up the middle, ranking ninth among all centers in the league.
– DeMarcus Ware is still among the top 10 defensive ends, ranking eighth despite missing three games.
– Kyle Wilber has posted consecutive quality performances at outside linebacker.
– Jason Hatcher is fifth among defensive tackles, trailing only Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy, Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh, Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey and the New York Jets’ Damon Harrison.
– Sean Lee is sixth among inside linebackers. Ahead of him are San Francisco’s Patrick Willis, Detroit’s Stephen Tulloch, Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson, New England’s Brandon Spikes and San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman.
– Dan Bailey is fifth among kickers.
– Chris Jones is eighth among punters.
– Dwayne Harris is fourth among kickoff returners.
– Dez Bryant and Doug Free continue to slip. Bryant hasn’t finished with a positive PFF grade since Week 8. And after climbing among the top 10 WRs in the league, Bryant currently sits at No. 33. Why has he fallen? Well, Bryant currently leads all receivers with three fumbles and his nine dropped passes are fifth-most among players at that position. Bryant is 58th in percentage of passes he’s caught, hauling in 60.7 percent. He also has a negative blocking grade, ranking 89th among WRs.
– Free posted positive grades in each of the first six games but has only received a positive grade once over the Cowboys’ last four games.
– Ronald Leary continues to struggle. The Cowboys’ LG is ranked 58th among guards after receiving a negative grade in each of the last six games.
– George Selvie’s production has steadily declined and he has fallen to 34th among defensive ends.
– Ernie Sims and Bruce Carter continue to be graded among the worst outside linebackers in the league. Sims has only posted two positive grades all season and Carter has one positive grade over the last five games.
– Nick Hayden continues to rank as one of the worst defensive tackles in the NFL, posting negative grades in every game except the season opener.
– Not really a negative, but Barry Church has had an up and down season and currently ranks 24th among safeties. J.J. Wilcox is 54th.
– Orlando Scandrick is the team’s highest ranked cornerback at 26th in the league. He has positive grades each of the last four games. Brandon Carr is 44th, largely because of the negative 5.4 grade he received while defending Detroit’s Calvin Johnson in Week 8. The bad news is that those two will be defending two of PFF’s top 10 wide receivers Monday night. Brandon Marshall is first and Alshon Jeffery is seventh.
Follow Jon Machota on Twitter: @jonmachota