In the 2018 draft, the Dallas Cowboys picked up an offensive lineman named Connor Williams. At the time, it was considered a value pick as some had rated Williams as a borderline first-round talent. He played tackle in college and was noted for having excellent feet for a lineman, but given his shorter arm length he was ticketed for guard in the Cowboys system. Williams won a starting guard spot, but struggled at times for one major reason, he just didn’t seem big/strong enough to anchor down and hold his position. His noticeable issues with more talented defensive tackles bullying him around led to him sharing time with Xavier Su’a-Filo at points during the season.
All reports say that he has done everything he can to overcome that this offseason. Jason Garrett recently confirmed what has been talked about all offseason, Williams has added 15 pounds to his frame and has re-sculpted his body for the rigors of an NFL lineman.
In 2019, the Cowboys drafted another lineman named Connor, this one being Connor McGovern from Penn State. Like Williams, McGovern is slated to play the interior of the line (guard/center) and could provide immediate competition for playing time. Unlike the original Connor, this Connor has an NFL-ready body.
When most rookie offensive linemen enter the NFL, they look like they need time in the weight room. The Cowboys’ second-round pick from a year ago, Williams, is a perfect example. He weighed what he called a “light 300” in 2018. He has added 15 pounds in the offseason.
McGovern, however, does not look out of place when compared to some of the more veteran offensive linemen.
”There is no question physically he looks like he belongs. He has got a really good body, long arms, big hands. He looks the part. But he will grow and develop as well,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “That typically happens with rookies when they get a chance to be involved with a program for 12 months out of the year, the lifting program they are on now, the one they carry up to training camp, the in-season program and then next year he will get into a rigorous offseason program from the start. All those guys will change their bodies. It doesn’t mean they will necessarily gain weight, but they will develop more of an NFL body as they go.”
In a somewhat humorous look at the development of Connor McGovern, ESPN lays out the growth spurt he went through in high school, and the enormous amount of food, mainly meats and pizza, that McGovern would inhale.
When he was a sophomore at Lake-Lehman High School in Northeast Pennsylvania, he was 5-foot-10, 200 pounds. By his junior year, he was 6-foot-5, 290 pounds. The Cowboys list him at 6-5, 308 pounds.
”I’m 6-2,” his father, Jim, said. “His brothers are 6-2, maybe 6-2 and change. His mom is 6-feet. Maybe the milkman was 6-7 or 6-8.”
When Connor was 11, the doctors examined him and mentioned to his parents that he could be 6-6, 6-7 because of the separation in the growth plates.
”I laughed,” Jim said.
There is one thing McGovern is serious about and that is fighting for a starting position.
McGovern is deferential to his accomplished Dallas linemates. He watched them weekly while at Penn State and now can’t believe he gets to practice with them. But his goal is to start.
”I like to set the standards high, set my goals high,” Connor said. “The worst thing that happens is I get to learn from the veterans and get better. So it’s a win-win either way.”
Once training camp hits and the pads come on, we’ll start to get a feel fro how good McGovern is and whether he can truly challenge Williams for the starting guard spot (Su’a-Filo probably feels he’s in the mix, too). Then you’ll get preseason games where the challenge is even greater; the hitting is full contact and you get a real sense for how a lineman can perform.
As noted, it won’t be McGovern’s size that will hold him back. It will be about his talent, but the Cowboys think a lot of that, too. So much so, that if you went strictly on best player available, he probably should have been their pick in the second round, instead of the third.
Before the draft, he never knew the Cowboys liked him as much as they did because they did not talk to him at the NFL scouting combine or have him visit The Star. He actually had a higher grade than the team’s second-round pick, Trysten Hill, so the organization felt fortunate to get him in the third round.
Next year, it may be the case that the Cowboys have both Connors starting on their offensive line, but barring injury this year, only one will get a shot. Both are now equipped with NFL-ready bodies, let the competition begin.