NFP: USC Tackle Tyron Smith to Visit Patriots

MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans flanked by Tyron Smith #70 and Ronald Johnson #83 runs off the field after the Trojans scored a touchdown during the first half of the game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers on September 18 2010 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Minnesota. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

According to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith is currently scheduled to hold a pre-draft visit with the New England Patriots:

USC blue-chip offensive tackle Tyron Smith is scheduled to visit at least a dozen teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns, according to league sources with knowledge of the situation.

Smith also has a visit with another undisclosed NFC East team and more trips are being scheduled.

This is certainly intriguing news for Patriots fans looking for the team to select a tackle in the first round, as Smith is now the second tackle with a first round grade that the team has brought in for a pre-draft visit (the first being Colorado tackle Nate Solder).  The team also paid close attention to Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi and Boston College's Anthony Costanzo at their respective pro days.

At 6'5" and 307 lbs, Smith arguably has the highest ceiling as any offensive tackle in the 2011 NFL draft class.  He has excellent athleticism and fluidity for a lineman, and has a very chiseled frame.  Of course, he needs some work on his technique and footwork, but Smith could very well develop into a top left tackle in the NFL.  However, one of the main things that Smith needs to do is prove that he can sustain his weight, as his college playing weight of 290 lbs will not suffice in the NFL.

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