Dallas Cowboys working Connor Williams at tackle

Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys could be looking down the road to 2020, opting to shift Connor Williams from guard to tackle to eventually replace La’el Collins.

One of the areas of particular interest to following this summer for fans of the Dallas Cowboys is the offensive line. Considered to be one of the top positional groups in the NFL just a couple of seasons ago, this unit has had their struggles in recent years. And that’s mainly due to injury.

Just last season, the Cowboys lost their All-Pro center, Travis Frederick, for the entire year as he struggled to recover from the autoimmune disease Guillain-Barré syndrome. Six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith has missed nine games in the past three seasons due to various injuries. Finally, five-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin was forced to miss the first two games of his career due to a knee injury in 2018.

Outside of injury, free agency has hurt the Cowboys’ offensive line play as well. Dallas has struggled to find a replacement for left guard Ronald Leary after he left to join the Denver Broncos back in 2017. Last year, the Cowboys drafted Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams in the second round. Williams started his first eight games at left guard before an injury forced him to the sidelines. Veteran offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo replaced the rookie and took the starting role from him.

Both Williams and Su’a-Filo were expected to compete for the starting left guard position this offseason along with 2019 third round selection Connor McGovern. But it looks as if the Cowboys may be preparing for life without another starter who could be leaving via free agency after the season. That player being starting right tackle La’el Collins.

Entering his fifth season in Dallas, Collins is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And due to the financial investment the Cowboys have already made in players like Smith, Martin, and Frederick along their offensive line, Dallas isn’t expected to re-sign the talented Collins. One speculated option to replace him was shifting Williams outside. And apparently, that’s what the team has started doing.

Here’s what football analyst Bryan Broaddus wrote on DallasCowboys.com about the Cowboys playing the second-year Williams at tackle during OTA’s.

"” … I was a little surprised the coaching staff worked Connor Williams at left tackle while practice was open to the media. I had a feeling we wouldn’t see Williams practice at tackle until we got to training camp, but there he was in the lineup for Tyron Smith. Williams didn’t draw an easy matchup with Robert Quinn, who forced him into a holding call on the first snap of blitz period.”"

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Now, this could just be the Dallas Cowboys trying players out at different positions, giving their veterans a bit of a breather, or simply a matter of numbers during OTA’s. Yet, with the future of La’el Collins up in the air, grooming his replacement now seems wise. Although the Cowboys do have a veteran in swing tackle Cameron Fleming who could step in and do the job as well.

The key to moving Connor Williams out to tackle permanently this summer might be a rookie like Connor McGovern stepping up and earning the starting left guard spot outright.