For the Dallas Cowboys to truly have a successful season in 2021, they will need their offensive line to return to their former glory. Of course there are other elements that need to come together. Dak Prescott needs to play the majority of the season without injury. The defense absolutely has to be better than last year, and not by just a little, but by a good measure. The coaching staff needs to be better. It’s a long list of things.
But without an offensive line that can power their juggernaut offense, the Cowboys will wither on the vine. Last year, injuries decimated the unit. Guard Connor Williams was the only starter to make it through the year unscathed. La’el Collins never got out of the gate, Tyron Smith made if for a couple of games before going down, and Zack Martin missed a good chunk of the end of the season.
Then there was the center position. The Cowboys lost Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick to retirement in March of 2020. Joe Looney was seen as the veteran that could hold down the fort as he had done in the one season Frederick missed during his battle with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, but Dallas also need to look toward the future. So they drafted center Tyler Biadasz in the fourth round of the 2020 draft.
Biadasz and Looney traded time as the starting center when injury affected that position too, causing something of revolving door. Biadasz ended up playing 37% of the offensive snaps in 2020 but will be counted on for a lot more than that in 2021. He is the anointed starting center with Joe Looney not being re-signed.
It's been noted that the Cowboys don't really have a good backup center option on the roster, and that's why they have been giving Connor Williams snaps at the position during training camp and in preseason games. Biadasz is going to be counted on to man the position unless he is injured.
Fortunately, he is being tabbed as one of the 25 young players who could have somewhat of a breakout season in 2021. ESPN recently put together a list that was based on this criteria.
The goal is to bring your attention to players who are still developing in their second and third seasons, even after the draftniks have forgotten them. It’s important to note that this list is not strictly about fantasy football (otherwise, there would be no offensive linemen on it) and career potential matters. It’s not just a list for the 2021 season.
Here’s our full criteria:
Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent
Entered the NFL between 2018 and 2020
Fewer than 500 career offensive or defensive snaps (except running backs, who are allowed just 300 offensive snaps)
Have not signed a contract extension (players who have bounced around the league looking for the right spot, however, still qualify for the list)
Age 26 or younger as of September 1, 2021
Biadasz fits that list and after an inconsistent, but promising, 2020 season, bigger things are expected from him in 2021.
Age: 23 | Drafted: 2020, pick 146 | 427 offensive snaps
Coming out of Wisconsin, Biadasz was seen as a no-thrills center prospect. He didn’t work out at the combine or at the Badgers’ pro day due to injury, but he was flashing all over the tape. You may remember Jonathan Taylor’s 2,000-yard seasons — Biadasz was calling the signals for those, and he did an excellent job on double-teams and keeping his mitts on his defenders.
The Cowboys suffered through some unfortunate times on the offensive line last year. Zack Martin was hurt. La’el Collins was hurt. Tyron Smith was hurt. Most importantly for Biadasz, long-time center Travis Frederick was dealing with Guillain-Barre syndrome. That turnover meant that Biadasz played 99% of the snaps from Weeks 5-8 before a hamstring injury claimed him as well. Biadasz allowed a sack and demonstrated that he’s got some pass-protection adjustments to make in the NFL in those five games.
Cowboys players and coaches were raving about Biadasz at OTAs. “He’s just figured out everything that he needs to know being the center of the offensive line — making the calls. He’s speaking with more confidence. He’s asking the questions that you want a center to ask against certain different things, adjustments, and everything like that, what to do,” Collins told reporters. With Joe Looney gone and Frederick retired, there’s little on the roster to provide competition for the starting center spot. It’s fair to say that the Cowboys are counting on Biadasz.
On the defensive side of the ball, Randy Gregory has been the Cowboys candidate to have a breakout season in 2021. On offense, it just may be Tyler Biadasz who people are talking about after the year is over.