The Dallas Cowboys recently selected center Tyler Biadasz in the NFL draft. But with other starting-caliber linemen on the team, what will happen next?
Going into the 2020 NFL Draft, there was speculation that the Dallas Cowboys might select highly-touted center Cesar Ruiz out of Michigan. The scuttlebutt was they might trade down, reminiscent of the selection of All-Pro center Travis Frederick back in 2013.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Mr. Ruiz’s house. Star Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who’d been projected as a top ten pick, fell in the Cowboys’ lap at pick 17. For once, they didn’t look that gift horse in the mouth. They just took him, and everyone is thrilled with the choice. Nice change of pace, huh?
Plan B then became trading up from the fifth round to choose Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz with the final pick of the fourth round. Variously listed between the 2nd-5th best center in the draft, Biadasz was a player I’d been keeping track of.
Ever since I’d heard the speculation about the fabulous Ruiz, I’d been studying up on different centers. Biadasz was a first-team All-American and won the Rimington Trophy, given annually to the best center in college football, and was also a finalist for the Outland Trophy, for the best interior lineman in the country.
I was super excited the Cowboys were able to land the big man, ecstatic that it only took a couple of fifth-rounders to do it (this year’s and a 2021 fifth). Frankly, I couldn’t believe it.
It looks like his draft stock fell due to a slight drop-off in performance after having hip surgery following the 2018 season (though he still won those awards as a senior). And also because he had shoulder surgery this offseason.
You can never assume an athlete will totally recover from injuries. They’re different in every case. But if the Wisconsin center does reach peak form again, Dallas got one heck of a deal.
Before the draft, there were Cowboys observers who cautioned against drafting an offensive lineman. With all the first-round picks the Cowboys have spent on this area, they said, they’d rather see a defensive-oriented draft. I didn’t entirely disagree.
On the other hand, it looked to me like the Cowboys had two problems on the offensive line: left guard and center. Obviously, All-Pro Travis Frederick retiring created a problem. In addition, however, Connor Williams, though starting at guard for the last two years, has never really excelled at the position.
Williams was an offensive tackle at the University of Texas, and was pushed around at times in the pros at guard, even after bulking up after his rookie season. Williams was also injured both years, missing five games each season, according to the NFL.
If the Cowboys did nothing, here’s what they would have at the two positions: Connor Williams, Joe Looney, who mostly played center (and started there in place of the injured Frederick during the 2018 season), and Connor McGovern, who had played both guard and tackle at Penn State, plus long-shots to start like Adam Redmond and a few others.
At first blush, this doesn’t sound so bad: Williams and Looney had already started for the Cowboys, and McGovern was highly touted coming out of college. But upon closer examination, the three don’t inspire tons of confidence. Neither of the veterans has displayed elite performance thus far, and McGovern was out with a pectoral injury for the entire 2019 season.