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Can Tyler Biadasz start at center for the Cowboys as a rookie?

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The rookie center has a high ceiling, but has several question marks for now

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl - Oregon v Wisconsin Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When the Cowboys traded back into the very end of the fourth round of the 2020 draft to select Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz, many people - myself included - hailed it as a brilliant move, especially in light of Travis Frederick’s retirement.

Biadasz (pronounced “bee-AH-dish”) was a dominant center for the Badgers, much like Frederick was in his playing days. At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Biadasz was named to the All-Big Ten first team for the second consecutive year and was viewed as the top draft-eligible center entering the 2019 season.

Biadasz had hip surgery in the offseason and missed spring practices as a result. While Biadasz was named a unanimous All-American and won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center - something not even Frederick did - he took a clear step back, leaving many to wonder if it was because he still wasn’t fully recovered from surgery or if this was a more permanent change.

Either way, Biadasz won’t be pressed into a starting role in Dallas:

But he won’t have to right away, at least. Joe Looney is a more than capable starting center, as we learned in 2018, so if Biadasz isn’t ready for a starting role he won’t be pushed into action. He’ll have time to recover if he needs to, as well as time to learn the offense and adjust to the NFL.

But the Cowboys didn’t trade up for Biadasz just to have him warm the benches. He may not have been a premium draft selection like Frederick was, but the Cowboys think they have a similar type of player in Biadasz. Head coach Mike McCarthy was apparently pushing for the team to get him, indicating he has plans for the former Badger.

So can Biadasz actually start for the Cowboys in his rookie year? It’s a question that we really won’t be able to answer until preseason games begin. For starters, Biadasz has some legitimate competition. Joe Looney is the biggest threat, and his lone year as a starter in 2018 was relatively impressive. But there’s also second-year pro Connor McGovern, a guard/center who may compete for snaps, as well as journeyman Adam Redmond, who the Cowboys made sure to bring back shortly after McCarthy arrived in Dallas.

The bigger question for Biadasz’s chances of starting in 2020, though, are related to his own body. Was the decline in 2019 merely a player who hadn’t fully recovered from a serious surgery, or was it an indicator of the new normal? The effects of the coronavirus on the draft process this year made it more difficult to evaluate such a question, so Biadasz’s projection requires some guesswork.

But if Biadasz is able to return to the form he displayed in 2017 and 2018, then the Cowboys are getting the closest thing to a Frederick clone they could find. Here you can see his ability to just overpower his blocking assignments once he gets his hands on them:

Biadasz also showcased an innate ability to make impact blocks downfield. He has the talent and athleticism to effectively transition between his blocks and move to the next level, which frequently opened up gaping holes downfield for running back Jonathan Taylor, who won the Doak Walker Award the last two years in a row thanks in part to his center being able to do things like this:

Another thing that made Frederick so special in Dallas was his ability as a pulling blocker. Whether it was screens or long outside runs, the Cowboys made good use of his range and Frederick helped block for some major impact plays. Not surprisingly, Biadasz has a similar ability with his athleticism, and would fit into Frederick’s role on this offensive line very well:

Biadasz will certainly be facing tougher competition in the NFL - especially in the NFC East, which features the likes of Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Dalvin Tomlinson - but it’s not like Biadasz was dominating against D-III schools at Wisconsin.

The type of player Biadasz was for the majority of his career at Wisconsin was a dominant center very much in the mold of Frederick, minus the incredible beard. If he regains that form, then Biadasz won’t have any trouble winning the starting job.

In that sense, the starting center job is Biadasz’s to lose. If he’s able to recapture the magic that once made him a lock for the first round, he’ll be the cream of the crop. If not, there’s more than viable options to start instead. We won’t know the answer until we can see him in action, but the potential is undeniably there.