If there is one player on the Cowboys offensive line that needs to prove themselves in 2020, it’s third-year offensive lineman Connor Williams.
After being drafted in the second-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Connor Williams has had a solid career so far at left guard. Williams has started 21 of 24 active games for the Cowboys, and while fans are always harder on players than the film would suggest, Williams shouldn’t relax heading into training camp. It was just last year that the Cowboys used a third-round draft pick on Connor McGovern out of Penn State, that caught many off-guard. Then in 2020, the Cowboys couldn’t wait any longer, and traded up to draft Wisconsin offensive lineman Tyler Biadasz in the fourth round. With the return of Joe Looney, even with the departure of Travis Frederick, there are multiple good options at both guard and center for Joe Philbin and the Cowboys coaching staff going forward.
Some may ask why the team would move Connor Williams to center, when both McGovern, Looney, and Biadasz have plenty of experience playing the center position. The answer is pretty simple, and it’s going to be something we should see rather early at the start of training camp. Athleticism. The one thing that Connor Williams possesses that neither of the other three options possess is elite movement skills and athleticism for an interior player, something that is very important for a team looking to use a variety of schemes to run the football.
It’s no surprise that Williams has always been one of the more athletic lineman of the group, but the question has always been can he hold up against power in the run and pass game. Moving Williams to center would give the Cowboys offense the ability to get their interior players out in space more using Williams quickness and explosiveness more to their advantage, giving Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard more opportunities to make plays in space.
Another positive of a potential move to center for Williams is having a (now) veteran lineman making adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Asking Biadasz or McGovern to be able to handle making adjustments at the line of scrimmage, all while handling their blocking responsibilities, is a big task to ask of two players who have yet to take an NFL snap. While Joe Looney does have the experience, we saw the offense sputter at times in 2018 when he started at center, due to the inability to adjust in certain situations given what defenses were showing pre-snap.
By no means is this to suggest Connor Williams should be the starting center day one, but it’s a move to keep an eye on with plenty of options available along the interior of the offensive line heading into training camp.