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Two Connors: Time to Shake Up Cowboys Offensive Line?

Offensive Tackle La’el Collins will miss at least two more games after the Dallas Cowboys placed him on Injured Reserve prior to the start of the regular season. Under the adjusted CBA for the 2020 campaign, players need to be on IR for at least three weeks instead of the usual eight. However, that’s only a minimum. As the Cowboys prepare to face the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, there’s no telling when Collins will be back.

His absence was felt on week 1 when undrafted rookie Terence Steele took over for him as the starting right tackle.

The undrafted 23-year-old from Texas Tech surprised Cowboys Nation by making the 53-man roster thanks to a strong training camp. But the biggest surprise came when reports emerged what it would be him and not Cam Erving replacing La’el Collins in the season opener.

Steele seemingly had a strong first half and even a strong third quarter. Nothing spectacular, of course, but for an undrafted rookie who was supposed to be a backup, it wasn’t bad. However, on the team’s final drive, Steele had a rough time keeping the Rams off of Dak Prescott.

Even with a decent start, Pro Football Focus graded him as the second-worst offensive tackle of week one.

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Cowboys RT Terrence Steele graded out as the second-worst offensive tackle in Week 1 (min 25 snaps). He finished Week 1 with a grade of 49.8 via @PFF

While calling a week 2 matchup a “must-win game” is certainly an overreaction, with the Cowboys facing the Seattle Seahawks on week three, starting the season 0-2 could spell trouble for the team. Adjustments can’t come soon enough.

Which brings up the question, is it time for Dallas to shake up things on the offensive line?

If the team tries to get its best five players out on the field without looking for outside help in free agency or in the trade market, pushing Connor Williams to right tackle shouldn’t be out of the question. When the front office drafted Williams out of Texas, his position flex was a strong selling point.

“We feel like he can move out there,” said Stephen Jones in 2019 when asked about Williams potentially playing at right tackle.

In Dane Brugler’s scouting report for Connor Williams, Brugler mentions his capability of playing as a tackle on Sundays. “[…] his sophomore tape showed a capable NFL starter at tackle and NFL teams will need to trust the 2016 tape to draft him in round one.”

Replacing Williams at left guard wouldn’t be too much of an issue after the Cowboys added Connor McGovern in 2019. McGovern was sidelined all of last year due to injury but he got plenty of snaps on training camp as Williams recovered from injury.

Although questions on Williams’ capacity to play right tackle, one has to wonder if it’d be worse than what the Cowboys can get from Steele or Brandon Knight, who is expected to be active on gameday.

There’s one big con to this plan the Cowboys need to consider, though.

How long will it take Collins to come back? If it’s a long period of time, I don’t see why the Cowboys don’t try to shake things up to get the best five on the playing field.

On the other hand, if Collins is set to return after missing the minimum three weeks of action, is moving Williams to a different position only to move him back to guard later worth it? There’s a world of difference between playing left guard and playing right tackle, and the in-season adjustment could negatively affect Williams’ performance for a handful of weeks.

Only the Cowboys know Collins’ timetable for a return. Here’s hoping that they find a way to deal with his absence in the meantime. I believe they shouldn’t be afraid to shake things up.

Tell me what you think about “Two Connors: Time to Shake Up Cowboys Offensive Line?” in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

What do you think?

Mauricio Rodriguez

Written by Mauricio Rodriguez

I love to write, I love football and I love the Dallas Cowboys. I've been rooting for America's team all the way from Mexico ever since I can remember. If you want to talk football, I'm in... You'll find me at @MauNFL.

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  1. If and only if Collins is out for an extended time would I consider that many changes during the season. Continuity for OL is more important then any other position. Makes me nervous to make several positional changes on OL in season. Would also consider that C Williams hasn’t played tackle in yrs As for McGovern we don’t even know what we have in him as he has never even taken a snap in the NFL. God I hope Collins only misses 3 wks.

  2. It will come down to how long Collins is down, and/or if Steele starts getting owned by DEs. I commented before about this particular switch with the Conners. Just not too sure if Williams can just move over and perform at a high level at Tackle in a short timeframe. Hope Steele can perform at a respectable level. A lot to put on an UDFA, but let’s hope for the best.

    Unrelated, IMO this Falcon game is almost a MUST WIN. Why, because I have my doubts we can beat Seahawks in Seattle. Don’t want to sound negative, just keeping it real folks. So think about going 0-3 to start the season. Very distasteful to say the least. They better bring their A game against these birds.

  3. The success of the team this yr will hinge on the health of the OL period. If they continue to have big issues nothing else matters. Is C Williams even fully healthy after major surgery? Has he reached his ceiling? How good is/can McGovern be having never played in the NFL? Will Steele hold up going forward? Is Looney being exposed more, now that the rest of the O-line is struggling? Will Collins and Smith battle injuries all yr? I’m not in favor of (unless absolutely necessary) of several O-linemen switching position in season. Sounds like more a move of desperation. I’ll close by saying we are basing all our assessments on ONE GAME. A Donald will make many a D-Lines look bad this yr and we won’t see anyone in his class again the rest of the season. Also McVay is an offensive savant and few coaches will have the ability to exploit us in the manner he did. We got a game under our belt to see what’s what. Now the coaches on both sides of the ball need to come up with a game plan that best puts our players in a position to win this game. Not sure this is a must win game, but the team better approach it as if it were.

  4. I agree, it’s only 1 game and there’s no player in the NFL that’s as good as Donald is!! But I didn’t like the Steele situation, he was an undrafted free agent for a reason!! In my opinion, if we were to start an undrafted free agent, it should be one that has some experience in the NFL, and I’m talking about Brandon Knight!! He did an excellent job last season at RT, so I think he should be the one to start at RT!! And putting him in at RT would keep us from having to make a bunch of moves on the o-line!! I think that’s the best option we have right now, unless the coaches think Steele can be better moving forward, but in my opinion, I think we’ll be better off putting Brandon Knight in instead!!

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