More often than not, USC will have a player near the top of the NFL Draft boards. this year, that player is right tackle Tyron Smith, who is projected my many experts to be a top ten pick. Smith started on the right side of the line for the Trojans, but figures to have the athleticism and strength to move over to the more crucial left side of the line as he gains knowledge and experience.
SB Nation just released the latest version of their 2011 NFL Mock Draft, and they have Smith going ninth overall to the Cowboys, which is a spot you will see him in many Mocks around the Internet. Everyone seems to be in general agreement that this is a pretty good value spot for Smith; so even if the Cowboys trade out of this pick, you can expect him to be drafted somewhere in the neighborhood of this selection.
Smith didn't start out the Draft process as a top ten pick, but his impressive athleticism during pre-draft activities has allowed him to shoot up Draft boards. He doesn't have the typical bulk of a starting left tackle (if you can call just about three bills "not bulky") but he has a big frame and should be able to add weight once he gets into the NFL. He also has the strength to be able to play on that side of the line no matter how big he winds up being.
The other intriguing part about Smith is his age. Smith won't turn 21 until December, so he is much younger than other prospects at his position usually are when they hit the Draft. That means he'll have a couple years of NFL coaching and conditioning by the time he is as old as most tackle prospects that will be available to teams in the Draft.
He is the definition of an upside pick. Someone who didn't play like a top ten pick in College, but has the measurables and potential to develop into one of the better players in the draft. Whichever team decides to take Smith has to be aware that he might require more work than other tackles that are generally taken at this position. But if he reaches his potential, he could wind up rewarding a team that has the patience to bring him along.
We'll be covering Smith's road to the NFL Draft in this stream, but you can head over to Mocking the Draft for an in depth profile on Smith, and Conquest Chronicles for more on the Trojans.