Cowboys select USC OT Tyron Smith

IRVING, Texas -- For the first time in the Jerry Jones era, the Dallas Cowboys have drafted an offensive lineman in the first round of the NFL draft.

With the ninth pick of the first round, the Cowboys selected Southern Cal’s Tyron Smith on Thursday, putting the future of Marc Colombo, in question.

Smith (6-foot-5, 307 pounds) is the first offensive lineman the Cowboys have selected in the first round since 1981, when Tom Landry took Howard Richards with the 26th pick. In the Jones Era (from 1989-present), the Cowboys have used seven second-round picks on offensive linemen: Larry Allen (1994), Shane Hannah (’95), Flozell Adams (’98), Solomon Page (’99), Andre Gurode (2002), Al Johnson (’03) and Jacob Rogers (’04).

Smith was a two-year starter at Southern Cal and is viewed as the best tackle in the draft with the highest ceiling because of his tremendous athletic ability. While some see him as a left tackle in the future, the Cowboys will likely plug him in at right tackle.

Colombo, who was Chicago’s first-round pick in 2002, has started every game in which he has been healthy since 2006 for the Cowboys. He missed the final seven games in 2009 because of an ankle injury and was slowed last year by a knee injury. He is due a $2.6 million roster bonus before the 15th day of the league year and could be released unless he takes a pay cut.

The Cowboys had Smith, Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo and Colorado’s Nate Solder rated nearly the same on their draft board but could not find a trade partner to move down to pick up extra picks.

Head coach Jason Garrett went to one pro day during the pre-draft lead-up -- and that was Southern Cal’s. At the time Garrett said it was because Smith did not work out at the scouting combine and the schedule worked out because of the lockout. Offensive line coach Hudson Houck played and coached at USC and also attended Smith’s pro day.

Smith was one of the 30 national visitors at Valley Ranch earlier this month.