Perhaps no two positions on the Dallas Cowboys' roster are more blended than Guard and Center. With several of our players have flexibility between both spots, which is a big part of the value to the team, we're going to cover them together in this next part of our 2020 training camp series.
Travis Frederick's retirement last March was a true shocker. His recovery from the neurological disease that cost him the 2018 season was one of the best stories of last year. We expected Frederick to be back even stronger and further removed from the issue in 2020.
But Travis decided to move on from football and left the Cowboys with a major hole to fill on the offensive line. There's also the ongoing question mark on Connor Williams at left guard; is the 2018 2nd-round pick really the long-term answer there?
Thankfully we still have Zack Martin as the ever-steady presence at right guard and perhaps the single best player on the entire Dallas roster. He does a lot to keep things solvent in the middle of the offensive line even when there's uncertainty and issues elsewhere.
Dallas doesn't lack for options in 2020 as they try to solidify the other two spots and their interior line depth. They've recently invested draft capital in Connor McGovern and Tyler Biadasz, plus paid to keep free agents Joe Looney and Adam Redmond. These moves will make for some competitive and intriguing training camp battles.
Guard Pre-Camp Rankings
- Zack Martin
- Connor Williams
- Connor McGovern
- Adam Redmond
- Cody Wichmann
Center Pre-Camp Rankings
- Joe Looney
- Tyler Biadasz
- Adam Redmond
- Marcus Henry
Interior O-Line Competitions
Connor Williams is practicing but not at full speed as he's eased back in from ACL surgery. Williams tore the knee ligament in last year's Thanksgiving game and went on injured reserve. This has created 1st-team rotation right now between him and Connor McGovern during practice.
Even if WIlliams was fully healthy we might still be seeing this rotation and a competition between the two Connors. It was rumored last year that if McGovern hadn't had his pectoral injury the coaches were considering him to start over Williams, or at least get a real crack at the job.
Williams shouldn't be dismissed, though. He's only entering his third season and has been transitioning from a college tackle to a guard during these first two NFL years. It is more likely that he will keep the job to start the season, but with McGovern not far from getting a look if Williams struggles.
Joe Looney is starting camp as the 1st-team center, which was the expectation since Frederick's retirement. He performed adequately in 2018 as the starter and was good enough to help Dallas make the playoffs.
Still, rookie Tyler Biadasz is an intriguing option. Had he been drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round he would be seen as a more legitimate contender to the job, and there are many who feel that he was a steal when Dallas got him in the 4th Round. It might be harder for Tyler to take on the job right away given the COVID-19 impact on rookies, but he could also threaten the starter throughout the seson.
There's little doubt in the top-five players to make the Cowboys' roster at these positions: Martin, Williams, Looney, McGovern, and Biadasz. Dallas may not keep more than those five for interior line depth, especially with Offensive Tackles La'el Collins, Cam Erving and Brandon Knight all having some position flex of their own.
One guy who could press the issue is Adam Redmond, who's been with the Cowboys for two seasons as a versatile G/C backup. With a mostly-new offensive coaching staff, and particularly Offensive Line Coach Joe Philbin, you never know what a fresh set of eyes might see in players that the last staff didn't.
Also in camp this year are G Cody Wichmann and C Marcus Henry. Wichmann was on the 2018 practice squad and then injured reserve last year. Henry was added to Dallas practice squad last October after he was cut by the Seahawks.
While both of these guys don't feel like more than camp bodies right now, I go back to my point about Redmond and the new coaches. Who knows what one of these guys could do to impress and make a surprising surge up the depth chart?
That said, the safe money is on the aforementioned top-five players. Hopefully, those battle produce a strong starting three and solid depth to help the Cowboys compete in 2020.