The Dallas Cowboys were expected to move their offensive linemen around in camp – just not like this…
The Dallas Cowboys were always supposed to move their offensive linemen around this preseason. With two positions essentially up for grabs and about four viable options available, it was always shaping up to be quite the competition.
Travis Frederick‘s unexpected retirement opened things up at center. And Connor Williams‘ modest play at left guard combined with the availability of another top-100 pick put his spot up for grabs as well.
Speaking of the Connors, since both Williams and McGovern played different positions in college, both were expected to flex a little around the line here in 2020. McGovern, who played some center in college, was supposed to flex between left guard and center, while Williams, who was a left tackle in college, was considered an option at tackle. Options were aplenty and Dallas Cowboys fans were prepared for anything.
Well, except for this.
A lot can change between today and tomorrow, but thus far Connor McGovern has yet to join the battle at center. Even stranger is the fact that Connor Williams, who has zero college experience inside, has been taking some snaps in the middle.
This is all pretty telling in some regard. First is the current situation at tackle. Tyron Smith has been limited and La’el Collins has been completely out. The two primary swing tackles, Brandon Knight and Cameron Erving, have been out as well.
All of this has left the Cowboys O-line alarmingly thin on the outside and nothing more than fodder for the Dallas Cowboys plethora of edge players. The Cowboys are so desperate at tackle they’re cycling in new blood as we speak.
You’d think if they had any desire whatsoever to consider Connor Williams at tackle they’d have done it by now. And if they haven’t done it under these especially dire of circumstances, they probably won’t ever consider such a move.
This appears to be a concentrated effort to get their best five linemen on the field at the same time. Making Williams a swing tackle wouldn’t do that (barring injury of course).
This tells us three things:
- The Dallas Cowboys clearly see Connor McGovern as a guard.
- They don’t see Williams as an option at tackle.
- They think Williams playing center may be their best way to get the best five playing together.
To expand on the final point, getting your top-5 players on the field means Looney will likely need to come off. We’ve seen Looney play center before and it wasn’t pretty. He wasn’t terrible, mind you, but he was clearly a below average center when he played the 2018 season in place of Frederick.
Williams, on the other hand, is regarded as an average-level NFL guard. Cowboys fans will harp on a couple memorable mistakes Williams has made, but at the end of the day, Williams grades out fine. And at age 23, he’s not even close to his reaching his physical prime as an NFL lineman.
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If the Cowboys find McGovern is their guard, they could use Williams as a Band-aid at center until the rookie Tyler Biadasz is ready to take the post. It would be an upgrade over Looney and allow them to get their top-5 guys on the field at the same time.
As we discussed earlier in “the Battle of the Connors”, Williams is a free agent after 2021 and they are not in a financial position to re-sign any more O-linemen to second contracts. McGovern is under team control for three more seasons and the ideal choice at left guard. And Biadasz is the ideal long-term solution at center since he has the highest ceiling and most years under team control. It just makes sense Williams is being considered inside at center.
As mentioned before, this can all change in an instant but we’re getting a glimpse at what the Dallas Cowboys are thinking long-term and you can never go wrong with getting your best players on the field.
- Published on 08/20/2020 at 16:01 PM
- Last updated at 08/20/2020 at 14:21 PM