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Film Room: OL Connor Williams Is Cowboys’ Final Piece To Great Run Game

Kevin Brady

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After drafting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys decided to sure-up their offensive line in round two. With their second pick, the Cowboys drafted home-state lineman Connor Williams with the hopes of moving him from left tackle to left guard.

The 6'5" 291 pound offensive lineman was considered a consensus first round pick heading into 2017, before injuries plagued his final collegiate season. Williams was still able to have a good-enough 2017 season when healthy, and was certainly deserving of being a top 50 pick.

But what are the Cowboys getting in Connor Williams? Let's take a look at the tape and examine what he can bring to Dallas.

The first thing you notice when watching Connor Williams is his demeanor. When drafting offensive linemen, you want them to be the nastiest dudes on the field. You want them to take pride in destroying their opponents will and dominating them each snap.

Connor Williams fits that bill perfectly.

2018 nfl draft connor williams

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As a pass blocker, Williams displays smooth feet, excellent balance, and overall efficiency in his pass set. Rarely did I see Williams overextend or get knocked off balance, and with his ability to re-anchor he did a nice job against bull rushers as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Williams did not give up a single sack over three seasons at Texas.

At left tackle here we see Williams remain patient with his hands before delivering a powerful punch. He then extends the pass rusher around the arc before flipping his hips and driving him upfield. Then, we see Williams' ability to finish and dominate his opponents.

2018 nfl draft connor williams 2

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As a run blocker, Connor Williams is able to display that nastiness as well. Williams has a quick get off, smooth hips, and powerful leg drive when moving defenders off the ball. He is at his best when down blocking and washing defenders down the line of scrimmage.

Here we see Williams in one of those down blocking situations. He is able to put pressure in the defensive end's ear-hole, and overpower him before bringing him to the ground.

Moving to guard Williams will be asked to pull more often than he did at Texas, but with his athletic ability and skill at the second level I see no reason why he can't be effective doing so.

2018 nfl draft connor williams 4

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There are, of course, some negatives to Connor Williams' game. While his lower body is downright text book at times, Williams does have some issues remaining consistent with his punch. This can cause him to land his hands outside, resulting in some opportunities to be called for holding. Williams could also gain some strengthen in both his lower and upper body to help him against bigger defensive tackles in the NFL.

As soon as the Cowboys drafted Williams everyone began wondering if he will be played at guard or tackle. In an ideal world, La'el Collins would stay at right tackle and Williams will kick down to left guard. Williams doesn't have very long arms, and can struggle against speed rushers at times. But at guard, he will be an excellent fit.

Overall, I love the Cowboys selection of Connor Williams 50th overall. He should be an immediate starter at left guard for the Cowboys, and will be the final piece to making their run game great once again.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Saul Molina

    April 30, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    I have no problem with williams the only issue I see he will have to add about 15 to 20 pounds

  2. Russ_Te

    April 30, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    I see agility on his tape but not a quick player. That could be wrong. But coming off a knee injury, I think he would have fallen down the draft and I don’t like the pick at 2nd round. Will be happy to have Williams correct me.

    If he catches on we can probably get a swing OL’er out of it. They should ask him to add bulk immediately, and we’ll see if he can win the LG job. I like Fleming and still think we need one more prospect on the OL.

  3. Not your goat

    May 1, 2018 at 11:01 pm

    I absolutely love this pick! Coming into day 2 of the draft i wanted Dallas to make a move up in the 2nd and grab Hernandez but that was short lived and I started looking up Linemen further down the board not even realizing Williams was still there. Right before the pick i looked at the BR big board and couldn’t believe my eyes. Obviously Philly failed themselves thinking they were spoilers and sending a kicker up to talk shit but OL was our absolute #1 need at that point after what happened in 2017 w/ the Smith injury and the LG carousel all season, even more than WR and TE. My cousin is Jane Slater from the NFL Network and she even said Williams was #13 on Dallas’ big board in the War Room so the value at that pick was tremendous and could not have been more fortuitous being able to take the best available player and our biggest need at the same time. I feel the same about 4 of our next 7 picks as well. This team is ready to make a rebound and run the East again now that the OL is addressed, secondary is a year older and we don’t have to start the year missing players from suspension or the distraction of fighting them (w/ the hope David Irving’s gf is doesn’t know what she’s talking about). 2018 might not have been Dallas’ sexiest draft of all time but it was exactly what the Cowboys needed to get back on track.

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DeMarcus Lawrence Named Top Free Agent Of The 2019 Class

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Much has been made about the Dallas Cowboys 2019 free agent class. Dallas has a ton of cap space moving forward, but they are going to "have" to pay many of the key players on their roster over the next two offseasons in order to keep their young core together.

Of course, when you're drafting, that's the goal. To draft so well that when your own players become free agents, you go ahead and pay them to keep them around, rather than overpay on the free agent market for external players.

One of the major pieces the Cowboys will have to retain this offseason is defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence. And while Cowboys Nation often thinks of Lawrence as underrated around the league, the NFL has caught onto his importance as he enters free agency this Spring.

ESPN.com ranked their top 10 free agents for 2019, with DeMarcus Lawrence clocking in at number one, over elite players like Jadeveon Clowney and Le'Veon Bell.

ig: josinaanderson on Twitter

ESPN's top 10 free agents for 2019 and what Le'Veon Bell should be looking to command based on previous measures. https://t.co/aJ7H1n001t

DeMarcus Lawrence is going to command big time money, likely even Khalil Mack-type money. But the fact of the matter is that he has earned it. Lawrence has been the heart and soul of the Cowboys defensive line the last two seasons, and the most consistent edge player on the team as well.

Not only has he been an effective pass rusher, but DeMarcus Lawrence also plays with a relentless motor against the run that can sometimes be rare to find in those premier pass rushers. He really is a jack of all trades at defensive end, and should be priority number one for the Cowboys this offseason.

Thankfully, I can't imagine the Cowboys not retaining DeMarcus Lawrence and extending him in the coming months.



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When it Mattered Most, Cowboys Offensive Line Protected Dak Prescott

John Williams

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All-22 Notes: Connor Williams Stands Out in Wild Card Win

Throughout the 2018 NFL season, one of the major story lines surrounding the Dallas Cowboys was how frequently Dak Prescott was taking sacks. It's an area that the Cowboys will have to look at in the offseason to better protect their franchise quarterback moving forward. In the playoffs, however, Dak Prescott and the offensive line were much better at keeping their prized possession upright than they were in the regular season.

In the regular season, Dak Prescott was sacked 56 times for an average of 3.5 times a game. There was only one game where he wasn't sacked at all, way back in week two against the New York Giants. Four times this season, the Cowboys' quarterback was sacked five or more times. The New Orleans Saints got him for a season high seven times.

According to Pro Football Focus, Dak was "kept clean" -- not pressured -- on 63% of his drop backs during the regular season, which ranked 25th in the NFL. When kept clean, Prescott completed 74.1% of his passes, which was good for 5th in the NFL during the regular season. He was under pressure 37% of the time, which was the sixth highest rate in the NFL and his completion percentage dropped to 52.6%, still good for 10th in the NFL. It was better than Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Baker Mayfield.

During the playoffs, Prescott's "kept clean" percentage rose from 63% to 68% and he was only sacked once in each game. The one sack against the Los Angeles Rams probably shouldn't have been called a sack as the referee blew the whistle because Prescott was "in the grasp"...

...of his offensive lineman.

During the playoffs, the Cowboys offensive line kept the pressure off of Prescott at a better rate, allowing him to be pressured on only 31.9% of his drop backs. Meaning he was kept clean at an improved rate from the regular season at 68.1% of his drop backs. This while playing against two teams that are really good at rushing the passer. The Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks both finished in the top half of the league in sacks this season and feature players like Aaron Donald, Jarran Reed, and Frank Clark who all had double-digit sacks.

As we know, pressure rates and sacks aren't all completely on the offensive line. The quarterback, wide receivers, and the play calling all factor in, but the Cowboys are trending in the right direction with their pass protection. A full offseason for Connor Williams in the Dallas Cowboys strength and conditioning program, better health for Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and -- fingers crossed -- Travis Frederick, should all help the offensive line play at a higher level heading into the 2019 season.

It can't be overstated how important it will be to get Travis Frederick back into the fold this season. Joe Looney was good, and that might be overstating it a bit. He was not noticeable on most plays during the season, but getting your All-Pro center back will tremendously help the offense in every facet of the game. Frederick's one of the smarter players in the NFL, who helps everyone on the offense to see the blitzes and calls out the protections. Both his mental and physical ability will be a welcomed site when the Cowboys begin practicing in the offseason.

With another year of growth for the quarterback and for the young pieces along the offensive line, and with a full offseason for Dak Prescott to grow with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and Blake Jarwin, the Cowboys should be better next season at keeping the quarterback clean.



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5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season

Brian Martin

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5 Studs and Duds From the Dallas Cowboys 2018 Season 2

I know we are all still little disappointed with the way the Dallas Cowboys 2018 season ended, but if we are completely honest with ourselves it ended a lot better than we initially thought it would. With the season officially over, it's time to start the evaluation process to see what went wrong and what right this past year.

I don't know about you, but I started the evaluation process a lot earlier this year than I have in years past. That is why today I want to share with you five of the Dallas Cowboys players who I believe had a fantastic 2018 season and five that unfortunately didn't quite live up to expectations.

Before we get started, I want to let you know that I tried to stray from pointing out the obvious, especially in the stud category. Instead I went with players who kind of came out of nowhere to have a really good season. I thought that would make it a little more enjoyable instead of pointing out the obvious. I hope you enjoy.

✭ Dallas Cowboys 2018 Studs ✭

Byron Jones

Dallas Cowboys CB Byron Jones

CB, Byron Jones

Byron Jones completely turned around his career this season with the Dallas Cowboys after being moved from safety to cornerback, his more natural position. Many had him pegged as a first-round bust, but he definitely quieted his critics by making his first Pro Bowl and becoming a Second-team All-Pro. I would say that qualifies as stud status.

The Predator and Wolf Hunter

You can't really mention one and leave out the other, which is why you're getting a two-for-one special here with Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. This dynamic duo arguably played like the best LBs in the league, although it's Vander Esch who has received the majority of the attention and got the Pro Bowl not as a replacement. Both definitely had Pro Bowl caliber seasons and that alone speaks volumes to how they played in 2018.

C, Joe Looney

No one could've possibly predicted the kind of season Dallas Cowboys backup Guard/Center Joe Looney would have in 2018 after replacing Travis Frederick in the starting lineup. He became somewhat of an afterthought this past season, which is pretty impressive in itself considering he was replacing one of the best centers in the league. What's even more impressive is the fact he played every single snap on offense. No other Cowboys player accomplished that feat on either side of the ball.

DE, Randy Gregory

You may disagree with me here, but the way Randy Gregory played in the second half of the 2018 season earned him stud status in my opinion. If he would've played that way for the entire year he would've joined DeMarcus Lawrence with double digit quarterback sacks. His ability to turn his speed into power gave opposing left tackles fits. He ended up being among the best at pressuring the QB in the latter part of the season.

DT, Antwaun Woods

Antwaun Woods was viewed as nothing more than a camp body when the Dallas Cowboys picked him up in the offseason after being released by the Tennessee Titans, but it's not always where you start it's where you finish. He went on to earn the starting gig at the 1-tech or nose tackle this past season and was largely responsible for the success Dallas had at shutting down opposing offenses rushing attacks. Unfortunately, as well as he played all season it will probably be forgotten after the way the LA Rams completely dominated Woods and the rest of the Cowboys DL in the playoffs.

✭ Dallas Cowboys 2018 Duds ✭

Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

LB, Sean Lee

The Dallas Cowboys wisely drafted Leighton Vander Esch as insurance if Sean Lee couldn't remain healthy in 2018, and thank the heavens they did. Vander Esch was supposed to be Lee's backup this season, but it ended up being the other way around after #50 once again missed quite a bit of the year with injuries. It looks like the torch has already been passed, making Sean Lee's future in Dallas a mystery moving forward.

DT, David Irving

Remember last offseason when the Dallas Cowboys decided to place just a second-round tender on David Irving and we were worried some other team would snatch him up? Yeah, well it looks as if the Cowboys are the ones who paid too much to keep him around because did basically nothing in 2018 despite all the high expectations we all had for him. After he sustained a high ankle sprain he pretty much went M.I.A. and no one really knows what the heck is going on or what his future holds.

WR, Allen Hurns

The Dallas Cowboys signed Allen Hurns this past offseason to help replace some of the lost production in the passing game after they decided to release Dez Bryant. Unfortunately, he never found his footing in Dallas and finished the year with an unimpressive stat line of 20 receptions for 295 receiving yards and two touchdowns. To add insult to injury (pun intended), his gruesome leg injury might be the only thing we remember about his 2018 season.

S, Jeff Heath

I'm actually a fan of Jeff Heath's, but he didn't particularly play very well this season. He ended up grading out as one of the worst tackling safeties in the NFL this past season. I don't know if it was some kind of fluke or what, but the Dallas Cowboys will surely be looking to upgrade the safety position this offseason either through free agency or the draft, perhaps both. Regardless, his days in the starting lineup may be all but over.

RB/WR, Tavon Austin

There were a lot of high expectations for Tavon Austin when the Dallas Cowboys added him via trade with the Los Angeles Rams. Austin was supposed to provide a different dynamic to the Cowboys offense and help improve their return game as well. Unfortunately a groin injury pretty much wiped out the majority of his season, but even when he was on the field he wasn't as impactful as we'd all hoped. He did show a few flashes of his talent, but for me it wasn't enough.



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