For a second round pick, Connor Williams joined the Cowboys with some serious expectations.
In 2016 the Cowboys offensive line was unanimously named the best unit in all of football. Everyone feared them, respected them, and gave them the bulk of the credit for Dallas’ surprise 13-3 season.
In 2017, however, when free agency hit them before the season and injuries hit them during it, that vaunted offensive line saw its play drop dramatically.
We all remember Chaz Green in Atlanta, unfortunately.
Dallas went into the 2018 NFL Draft with a goal to sure-up their offensive line, giving their young backfield ample opportunity to flourish moving forward. By draft Texas offensive lineman Connor Williams, they believed they had solved the issue.
Williams was heralded as a “plug and play” guard heading into the season, and was the unquestioned starter beside Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. His first few starts made many question just how “plug and play” he was, however. While Williams certainly wasn’t bad at the beginning of his rookie year, he was, well, a rookie after all.
Connor Williams was bullied on bull-rushes and struggled getting any movement off the line of scrimmage in the run game. Being underweight for an interior lineman, Williams’ issues probably should have been expected, but regardless the fanbase grew tireless of his mistakes quickly.
After coming back from injury late in his rookie season, though, Williams played some of the best football he had all year. He earned back his starting guard spot from Xavier Su’a-Filo, and was the clear choice to start in both postseason games. He even held his own, and was downright impressive at times, against the top tier defensive lines of Seattle and Los Angeles during those playoffs.
Now, Connor Williams enters year two with those expectations and pressures as high as ever. Though he is once again the unquestioned starting left guard, that may only be for the time being. Dallas has drafted another “plug and play” prospect for the interior of their offensive line in Penn State’s Connor McGovern, and the rumor is that Williams may be moving out to right tackle as early as the 2020 season.
Regardless of what Williams’ future with the Cowboys looks like past 2019, he is certainly getting himself ready to take a leap in his Sophomore year. Williams has reportedly gained about 15 pounds this offseason, and has been training in the weight room with All Pro guard Zack Martin.
With his playing weight up to the standards needed, his excellent technique and footwork on zone blocking runs, particularly outside zone, should be able to shine to their fullest extent.
I’m looking forward to seeing Connor Williams play in 2019, and expect him to accomplish the goals the Cowboys set out for him when selecting him in the second round a year ago.