With a record of 5-3 at the midway point in the season, the Cowboys saw a three-game winning streak come to an end after a disappointing loss in Atlanta. They had no answer for the Falcons pass rush as Chaz Green struggled throughout the game. Green was eventually benched for Byron Bell who wasn’t any better. It was a hot mess and it lingered throughout the second half of the season as Tyron Smith couldn’t stay healthy.
The liability on the left side of the offensive line was detrimental to the Cowboys 2017 season. Without a viable pass blocker protecting Dak Prescott’s blindside, the offense sputtered. The defense performed admirably early on in games, giving the team a chance, but eventually the offenses inability to stay on the field wore them down. The defense became a sitting duck in the second half.
This struck a nerve in the Cowboys front office and they vowed to be better prepared next time around. This started taking shape when the team signed free agent tackle Cameron Fleming and then drafted Connor Williams in the second round of the draft. Just like that, the team’s offensive line situation looks remarkably better. Not only do they have a young, talented lineman to insert into the starting lineup, but they now can keep Fleming in their back pocket in case of an emergency.
For many fans, the offensive line collapse resonated loudly and many were calling for the team to invest their 19th overall pick in another offensive linemen. Dallas didn’t oblige as linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was too good to pass up, but the team scored in a big way when Williams was available at 50.
He is Jon Machota’s favorite pick in the draft:
I just didn’t think that there was any way that he would fall to 50. If the right offensive lineman was there at 19, as much as they need help on defense, I wasn’t going to rule that guy out for the Cowboys there because I knew going into the draft that what happened in Atlanta and a couple of these other games were going to be a major point of emphasis.
When they didn’t have Tyron Smith and they had to put Chaz Green in there and Byron Bell, it was just a significant drop off. So, just through seeing that they’ve done in the draft, I was like, ‘I can see them going offensive lineman early.’
Connor Williams I think steps in right away and starts at left guard. He hasn’t even played guard before, but I think the transition will be relatively smooth considering you put him right between Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith, two perennial Pro Bowlers.
The transition will be no problem for Williams. He’s a versatile player and has the athleticism and strength to play a multitude of spots along the offensive line. Texas coach Tom Herman was asked about what stood out the most about Williams and he couldn’t limit it to one thing.
“The biggest thing I think about with Connor when you get passed how smart he is and how hard a worker he is I think just versatility,” Herman said. “He’s athletic enough to play tackle and be on the edge there. He is strong enough - he is really, really strong - to play guard and I think he is smart enough to play center. There is no position he won’t able to play. He is going to be a hard worker for them. You are not going to find a guy that works harder than him.”
This is our new left guard, people...
Everyday. Work everyday to take yourself to new heights. #HardWork pic.twitter.com/uMeNjEqmwR— Connor Williams (@cwill) May 8, 2018
Are guys this big supposed to have hops like that?
Me attempting to do the same jump @cwill posted pic.twitter.com/aj6YNL6YS3— Patrick Conn (@DraftCowboys) May 8, 2018
The young rookie can’t wait to get to work.
Thursday can’t come fast enough. Rookie mini camp. Just want to grind and play football. Let’s gooooooooo @dallascowboys— Connor Williams (@cwill) May 8, 2018
If Williams lives up to expectations, this is going to be one fierce offensive line for the Cowboys.