The guard and center positions aren't exactly rock solid right now for the Dallas Cowboys. While an argument could be made for addressing them somewhere in the early rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, one reason the team may not is third-year prospect Connor McGovern. How could this former 3rd-round pick affect Dallas' draft strategy?
As a rookie, McGovern was seen as a potential challenger to Connor WIlliams at left guard. Unfortunately, a pectoral injury cost him the entire preseason and any chance of making it a competition. It also robbed McGovern of valuable developmental work in his first year.
Returning healthy last year, Connor served as a backup and wound up starting eight games as the Cowboys were riddled with offensive line injuries. He didn't do anything to vault him into a starting role in 2021, but he remains a valuable asset with his versatility and hopefully more room to grow.
We expect Zack Martin, Connor Williams, and Tyler Biadasz to be the starters at guard and center this season. At worst, McGovern should be a key backup to both positions in the role we've seen Joe Looney play for several years. But given his delayed start due to the injury as a rookie, Connor could potentially challenge for a starting role.
McGovern's presence, and the two years remaining on his rookie deal, help move the interior offensive line a little further down the lost of Dallas' draft needs. Having just spent a 3rd-round pick on Connor in 2019, adding another mid-round pick now might be redundant.
Even if the Cowboys were to get hit hard with injuries again, they have other players such as Adam Redmond and Marcus Henry who they've been developing for a few years. Offensive Tackle Brandon Knight also has flexibility, having started his NFL career at guard.
This isn't to say that Dallas wouldn't use one of their early picks on a superior guard or center prospect. If you can find someone that provides an immediate upgrade and long-term value with those picks then there's rarely a reason not to take them.
But it's when we get into those middle rounds that guys like McGovern start to become more relevant. He hasn't shown enough that you're counting on him as a future starter, but he appears to be a solid backup with remaining developmental potential.
It was just two years ago that the Cowboys drafted Connor McGovern to provide depth and competition on the offensive line. With those options still on the table, they may give him at least one more year before investing another premium pick at guard or center.