When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Tyron Smith with the No. 9 overall pick last year it was the with idea that he could move to left tackle one day.
One day is supposed to be 2012.
Coach Jason Garrett said Smith will move to left tackle and Doug Free will play right tackle when the Cowboys reconvene in the offseason. Garrett added that "there's no guarantee," that Smith would be the opening day starter in 2012.
"The starting point for us next year is Tyron will start at left tackle and Doug will start at right tackle," Garrett said from the NFL's annual scouting combine. "The versatility that Tyron had coming out is something we were really attracted to. He was a right tackle in college, as you know, but we felt like he had the physical traits to play left tackle. Same with Doug Free. We felt he could play either side."
Free has started the past two years at left tackle, taking over for Flozell Adams in 2010, but he broke into the lineup in 2009 at right tackle after Marc Colombo suffered a fractured ankle at Green Bay. The Cowboys signed Free to a four-year, $32 million contract extension before last season.
Smith started every game as a rookie and earned high marks across the league for his play. He took snaps early in training camp before Free was eligible to practice but moved to right tackle for the rest of camp and the rest of the season.
"We felt the best decision was to leave Tyron at right tackle with the shortened training camp and offseason," Garrett said. "We felt like he was ready to make that move now and we'll see how it goes. I think both guys have demonstrated they can play either side. We're just trying to come up with the best combination."
Free struggled in 2011, but the move to right tackle comes with some risk as well considering the types of pass rushers the Cowboys see in the NFC East. Philadelphia has Jason Babin and Trent Cole, Washington has Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, the New York Giants have Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora.
The decision to make the switch could also affect guard Kyle Kosier. He moved from left guard to the right side to help ease Smith's transition. He could be moved back to the left side, however, there is some question about his future on the team. Garrett said Kosier's recovery from a torn medial collateral ligament in his knee suffered in the season opener is going well.
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.