Dallas Cowboys: Who do you got in ‘The Battle of the Connors?’

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

If fans have to hope for one of the ‘Connors’ to win the Dallas Cowboys starting left guard position, it should be this guyThe Dallas Cowboys offense is built on their offensive line. The offensively focused team lives and dies behind their line. Whether it’s the running game they are carrying, or the passing game they’re protecting, the 2020 Dallas Cowboys can only go as far as their O-line will take then.

Perhaps that’s why Dallas Cowboys fans are so fixated on the competition at left guard. Let’s call it, “The Battle of the Connors” where the Dallas Cowboys second-year offensive lineman, Connor McGovern, is challenging the incumbent, Connor Williams, for the starting left guard position.

In what promises to be a tightly contested competition, it’s actually the challenger we should all be hoping for this season. Why? We’ll get to that. First, let’s meet the contestants.

Dallas Cowboys LG No. 1: Connor Williams

Connor Williams, entering his third year in the NFL, has faced his share of criticism over the years. The 24-game starter has had some notable growing pains early in his Cowboys tenure and never regained fan support after a pair a terrible games early in his rookie season.

While Connor improved as the year went on, he had trouble shaking a few high-profile mistakes that essentially pegged him as the “Jeff Heath” of the O-line (the guy fans loved to blame for everything). Fan support got so bad for Williams, a large segment even preferred the chronically below average Xavier Su’a-Filo  to the former Longhorn.

While Williams was clearly the weakest link in the Dallas Cowboys offensive line, he wasn’t as bad as many seem to think he is. Pro Football Focus graded his every play and he stacked up as the 38th ranked guard in the NFL making him right about average (it seems offensive linemen are like cornerbacks – no fan base is really happy with theirs).

What’s concerning is the lack of development Williams made from Year 1 to Year 2. Despite building mass in the offseason, the added power wasn’t apparent on film. Additionally, his mistakes seemed to increase. In 2019 Williams was flagged five times (and a sixth one was offsetting) in just 11 games. Only 12 guards were flagged more and most of them played an entire 16-game schedule (or more since four of them played additional games in the postseason).

That’s a legitimate concern.

Dallas Cowboys LG No. 2: Connor McGovern

Let’s just say upfront we know next to nothing about Connor McGovern. Yes, we know how he played in college. And yes, we know how he looks on the scouting report and early in camp last year. But against real NFL competition, he could be a boom or a bust. We just don’t know.

But it’s not like McGovern is a complete wild card here, either. The well rounded do-it-all lineman from Penn State fell into the Dallas Cowboys laps in the 2019 Draft. Even though Dallas wasn’t actively looking for an O-lineman in the top-100, McGovern was too good to pass up.

While Williams, and former collage offensive left tackle, has the edge in athleticism, McGovern appears to have the advantage of power and interior experience. McGovern isn’t learning a new position. He’s been an interior lineman his whole career (guard or center). As such, he’s less likely to commit those high profile pass-pro mistakes Williams has grown infamous for.

Where McGovern should really win in the hearts and minds of Dallas Cowboys fans is his unknown ceiling and his years of control under his rookie deal. You see, Williams is only two seasons away from free agency while McGovern is three away.

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The Dallas Cowboys are already paying three offensive linemen top-of the market money (plus dead money to the now-retired Travis Frederick). They can’t afford to re-sign another one anytime soon. That means if Williams progresses this year or next, he’s going to move on to a different team in two years. McGovern gives Dallas three years of cheap labor and more importantly three years of continuity (which is extremely important on the O-line).

If you’re asking which one you think is better at this moment or which one is the favorite, the answer is probably Connor Williams. He’s much better than casual fans give him credit for, he’s abnormally young (drafted when he was 20-years-old!), and he’s extremely athletic.

If you’re asking which guy fans should universally pull for, it should be Connor McGovern (provided the battle at center gets resolved by Tyler Biadasz or Joe Looney).

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This is going to be one of many great battles to watch in training camp

  • Published on 07/10/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 07/10/2020 at 10:30 AM