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

Kevin Brady

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Auto Draft 3

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 am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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3 Comments
  • Saul Molina

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

  • Russ_Te

    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.

  • Not your goat

    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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How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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Dallas Cowboys

Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de Earl Thomas, la NFL Sigue Equivocándose
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.

In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond

It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.

Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.

Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond 1

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The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.

Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.

Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time.  I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.

Back to the chart.

Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.

So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.

Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.

When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.

At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.

If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.

Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III." 

Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!



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Dallas Cowboys

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN

John Williams

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A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.

The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.

Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPNAnd here is the ESPN list:

SportsCenter on Twitter

43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.

I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.

But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.

Ridiculous.

Shameful even.

The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.

Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.

Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.

I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.

I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.

"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.

Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.



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