After taking UCF defensive tackle Trysten Hill in the second round, it seemed as if the Cowboys would look to the third round for a safety. But as their pick came on the clock with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Amani Hooker, among others, still on the board, Dallas made the surprising move to take an offensive lineman in Penn State’s Connor McGovern.
Connor McGovern was announced as a guard by former Cowboys offensive lineman Rayfield Wright, and he was rated the tenth best interior lineman in the draft by The Draft Network.
Of course, it was on this day of the draft one year ago when the Cowboys drafted another guard named Connor in Connor Williams, and naturally the questions started flowing on what this meant for the former Longhorn, but NFL Network’s Jane Slater quickly cleared that up:
On the #Cowboys Connor McGovern pick, here’s what it means for Connor Williams. In his year end interviews, he was told they would eventually move him to tackle down the road and use him on either side as a guard, per source informed. Insurance for the future.— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) April 27, 2019
Keep in mind that current starting right tackle La’el Collins has a contract that is set to expire soon, and Dallas may prefer the idea of letting him walk and moving Williams to tackle, the position he played in college. McGovern himself has experience starting at all three interior line positions, which means he has the versatility Dallas likes from their linemen.
At 6’5” and 308 pounds, McGovern comes ready with an NFL frame, and his 28 bench press reps at the combine showed off his strength. McGovern flashed some high level athleticism as a blocker at Penn State, showing off the agility to have success as a pulling blocker. He also has a junkyard dog kind of mentality that makes him well equipped to handle work in the trenches, as McGovern himself indicated:
Connor McGovern said at the combine that he can play all 5 offensive line positions. Has played guard and center at PSU. What can he bring to an NFL team? "My physicality, my athleticism, quick learner. ...I'll protect the quarterback with my life, just like I did at Penn State."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 27, 2019
One of the biggest knocks on McGovern is his hand usage, as he doesn’t strike with much consistency and can get beat because of it. McGovern has also been criticized for not holding his stance long enough on plays and giving up leverage. Both of these issues can be addressed through coaching, but McGovern has the physical tools to become a starter in the NFL, at least according to Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network:
Connor McGovern definitely profiles as an eventual starting OG in the NFL, I’m just not sold he can do so at a high level immediately. With great functional athleticism and effective functional strength,, McGovern possesses the foundation needed to be a quality player. But hand timing issues and balance work still rear their heads in his tape and make him more of a three year window to peak as a pro vs. being a plug and play starter immediately from Day 1.
The good thing for Dallas is that they don’t have to start McGovern right away. They can afford to sit him for at least a year, and in that time he provides depth at all three interior line positions, potentially putting Xavier Sua-Filo at risk of making the team.
The Cowboys said that McGovern was “by far” the best player left on their draft board at pick number 90, and they had a second-round grade on him. Only time will tell if that’s the case, and this pick was certainly surprising, but keep in mind how good this front office has been at drafting offensive linemen in recent years. Hopefully they got it right again with McGovern.