It’s okay to admit that was your reaction when the Cowboys third round pick was announced last Friday night, and the world learned Penn State’s Connor McGovern was the newest Dallas Cowboy. Going offensive line that early in the draft was an upset that nearly no one predicted, but one which gives the Cowboys flexibility at one of the most important position groups in football.
Now the Cowboys go into 2019 with three former All Pros, a former second round pick, a now-veteran right tackle, and four talented backups to provide depth all across their offensive line. Three of those four backups have significant NFL regular season experience, and the fourth is the newest member of that OL room, Connor McGovern.
Let’s start by talking about McGovern. The Cowboys front office has repeatedly said that McGovern was the best player remaining on their board when they came on the clock in the third round, and it’s easy to believe them. Many respected “media scouts” thought McGovern was a top 50-60 player, making his selection at 90th overall a potential steal.
McGovern is a “plug-and-play” interior offensive lineman who could likely start at guard on many teams around the league in 2019. He’s still only going to be a rookie, however, and no matter how “plug-and-play” they are, rookie offensive linemen will undoubtedly experience growing pains. Just ask Connor Williams.
Unless he wins the job outright during training camp, the Cowboys best course of action will likely be to let McGovern sit for a year and provide depth/relief starts when needed.
This would make the Cowboys projected starting offensive line in 2019:
- LT: Tryon Smith
- LG: Connor Williams
- C: Travis Frederick
- RG: Zack Martin
- RT: La’el Collins
So, what about after 2019?
La’el Collins is entering a contract year this season, and while I’d argue he’s played better than the fan base often gives him credit for, he’ll likely command much more on the open market than the Cowboys will be willing (or able) to pay.
Collins’ departure would leave a hole at right tackle, one which now left guard Connor Williams could very well be expected to fill. Moving from left guard to right tackle is no easy task, even for a college tackle, but giving him an extra year to prepare for the move (at least slightly) will give him a head start for making the transition.
Connor McGovern gives the Cowboys this flexibility, allowing them to plan for 2020 on the offensive line and understand what that unit could look like. When Doug Free retired and Ronald Leary left in free agency, the great Cowboys offensive line suffered at times during the change.
Hopefully, due to their last two draft classes, this will not be the case next season.