Dallas Cowboys LG Connor Williams has been a cause of concern for many fans, but the concerns are overexaggerated.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted the University of Texas left tackle in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft, a draft that took place in the stadium of where Williams currently calls home and has called home for his entire childhood. At the time, the pick was considered a relative steal considering Williams was projected to land at the end of the first round or early on day two.
The expectation coming in was he would start at left guard, a position that was a running carousel after the departure of Ronald Leary. Compared to Leary, Williams was much leaner but also more athletic. Even though he weighed in 300 pounds, his body looked like it could add weight to deal with the power of the NFL.
Then a stunning roster change occurred as Joe Looney had to fill in for All-Pro center Travis Frederick who was fighting Guillian-Barre Syndrome. With two relatively new faces on the offensive line and a new coach in the building, the line was expected to deal with its fair share of struggles.
Everything went as expected. The first eight weeks saw the team go 3-5 and the offensive line looked out of sync particularly on the road where it looked like there was a struggle to communicate assignments across the line.
Out goes former OL coach Paul Alexander, in comes Marc Colombo and Amari Cooper via trade and the team starts performing better. However, the performance of Williams didn’t improve at the rate of the rest of the team. A mix of arthroscopic knee surgery and the previous strength concerns led to an otherwise forgettable end to the season. That was until he faced the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional playoff game.
In a game featuring arguably the greatest defensive players in the league, Williams helped prevent the tackle from being a serious influence on the game. Donald’s final stat line for the game was:
2 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass deflection
Everything about this is impressive considering Donald accumulated 59 total tackles and 25 tackles for loss while also leading the league in sacks with 20.5 for the regular season!
This performance was a huge shift in the right direction for the Longhorn as it looked like he was adapting to the speed and physicality of the professional game. Over the offseason, he added roughly 20 pounds of muscle looking noticeably bigger in his upper body. In training camp, he consistently held his own against DT Maliek Collins; the two provided one of the best interposition camp battles last season.
The season came with the return of Frederick after his battle with GBS and OL coach Marc Colombo. The line looked better when everyone was healthy, and it looked even better with the help of an improved Dak Prescott that found his footing in the pocket maneuverability department.
However, with the relatively elevated play of the line from the 2018 season, it seems Cowboys fans weren’t content with the play of Williams for whatever reason after he was responsible for only one sack according to PFF.
I went back to watch him against some of the best competition he faced in the 2019 season, and the results were…..
Well, you’ll just have to keep reading!