The first two offseasons of Offensive Lineman Connor McGovern's NFL career have been negatively impacted by injury and the COVID-19 pandemic. Could we see this former 3rd-Round pick make a major push in his third season, perhaps even claiming a starting role for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021?
In McGovern's rookie year in 2019, reports had him potentially pushing Connor Williams for the starting job at left guard near the end of training camp. But then McGovern suffered a pectoral injury that cost him the entire preseason and eventually spent the entire year on injured reserve.
Last year, back from injury, Connor again saw his offseason work cut short by the pandemic. The usual late-spring and summer practices were held virtually and eventually the entire 2020 preseason was cancelled.
Now McGovern heads into his third season still having yet to play in even a single preseason game. That isn't to say we've never seen him; Connor had eight starts in 2020 after Dallas' offensive line was decimated by injuries. But you can clearly see where this 23-year-old prospect has had some major roadblocks trying to get his career going.
It's not like this is some late-round hopeful just happy to still be on the roster. Again, McGovern was a 3rd-Round pick in 2018. You typically expect these players to be in the conversation for starting jobs by their third seasons, and especially interior offensive linemen.
The Cowboys have gotten a lot of mileage out of their 3rd-Round picks over the last decade. Just look at the list of players Dallas has selected in that round before McGovern in 2019:
- 2018 – WR Michael Gallup
- 2017 – CB Jourdan Lewis
- 2016 – DT Maliek Collins
- 2015 – OT Chaz Green
- 2013 – WR Terrance Williams
- 2013 – S J.J. Wilcox
- 2012 – DL Tyrone Crawfprd
- 2011 – RB DeMarco Murray
While Chaz Green was a bust in every sense of the word, the rest of these players have all had meaningful if not major roles on the team at some point or another. When guys like Lewis and Wilcox are on the low end of the list, that's some very solid drafting over a long period of time.
This is why it's not hard to imagine Connor McGovern emerging as a bigger factor in 2021. If the track record of 3rd-Round picks means anything, some were immediate starters or quickly took over at their positions within a few seasons.
To be fair to McGovern, though, there aren't exactly wide-open opportunities on this 2021 roster. Connor Williams has developed his game since 2019 and will be much harder to displace from that left guard spot now. And while McGovern does have flexibility as a center, Tyler Biadasz claimed that job last year and should also be much stronger in his second season.
And then there's Zack Martin. Need I say more?
Even if he does make some big strides in 2021, McGovern may still not be able to oust Williams or Biadasz from their starting positions. That would be unfortunate for the player but good for the Cowboys, making Connor a high-quality depth piece at both guard and center and fully replacing Joe Looney.
Whatever happens, the point here is that we shouldn't be sleeping on Connor McGovern as a potential starter this season. It's easy to forget about him after two quiet years, but there are legitimate reasons why his development has been delayed. If a major leap happens for McGovern in 2021, he could be far more threatening to Williams or Biadasz than you might currently think.