Cowboys' Tyron Smith a tough matchup

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' Tyron Smith is considered one of the best left tackles in the NFL despite only two years on the job.

Smith played right tackle as a rookie in 2011 and moved to left tackle in 2012. The transition wasn’t always smooth, but Smith was named to the Pro Bowl last year and a second-team All Pro. The Cowboys clearly believe he is a building block, picking up his fifth-year option for 2015 and wanting to sign him to a long-term deal, perhaps sometime this summer.

ESPN Insider Field Yates believes Smith is one of the top-10 nightmare matchups among offensive players in the NFL. Yates’ list is based on “rare physical specimens,” so it doesn’t include guys like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.

Smith was the only offensive lineman listed, checking in with guys like Calvin Johnson, Jimmy Graham and Adrian Peterson.

Here is what Yates had to say about Smith:

9. Tyron Smith, LT, Dallas Cowboys

It takes a certain type of offensive lineman to even be considered for this list, but Smith is rare. As one NFC defensive coach said, "He's a freak athlete, and strong. He has great recovery and a great punch." Smith stands 6-5 and 318 pounds, and has the athleticism to neutralize speed/quickness rushers and the strength to hold up against power rushers. What's perhaps scariest about Smith? He's just 23 and will start his fourth NFL season in 2014.

My first NFL job was covering the Cincinnati Bengals in the late 1990s. In talking with former Bengals coaches, scouts, players there was no player more revered than Anthony Munoz. He might be the best tackle to ever play the game.

I remember a coach telling me that when they would go over the game plan for the upcoming week they would simply erase the defensive end or linebacker on Munoz’s side because they knew he wouldn’t be a factor.

Smith isn’t in that category yet but he is getting there. Maybe soon the Cowboys coaches will feel the way with the players lining up against Smith as the Bengals' coaches did with Munoz.