Dallas Cowboys: Will this blinking light pay off in 2020?

Connor McGovern, Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
Connor McGovern, Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys drafted offensive lineman Connor McGovern as a value pick in 2019. Will he be able to make an impact after a rookie season lost to injury?

The sudden retirement of center Travis Frederick in March could potentially sink what was once the most dominate positional group in the NFL, the offensive line of the Dallas Cowboys. Although the presence of Joe Looney, the man who replace Frederick for all 16 games in 2018, offers the team a true safety net, missing a three-time All-Pro at such a stabilizing position as center will certainly ding the O-line.

One of the biggest questions heading into the 2020 regular season is how both the center and left guard positions will shake out. Obviously, Looney and third-year lineman Connor Williams have started at those positions before and would seem to be likely candidates to do so once again. But new offensive line coach Joe Philbin might not feel the same.

After all, the Cowboys did trade back up into the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft to select Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. Although it seems unlikely that a Day Three rookie could come in following a stunted offseason and earn the starting role over experienced veterans.

The biggest wildcard of this group is Connor McGovern. The player both Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones and former head coach Jason Garrett called a blinking light in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Dallas made McGovern the 90th overall selection despite pressing roster needs elsewhere. His value was simply too great to ignore as the team had an apparent high-second round grade on him.

McGovern played both center and guard while at Penn State. As a rookie last season, the talented prospect was expected to compete with Connor Williams and Xavier Su’a-Filo for the starting left guard position.

Unfortunately, a pectoral injury robbed McGovern of the chance to contribute during his first season in Dallas, landing him on Injured Reserve. Now the 22-year old enters his second year with the Cowboys under a new coaching regime, with a new positional coach, and not having played meaningful football in more than a year.

But McGovern undoubtedly benefited from being on the Cowboys’ sidelines last season. Getting to watch and learn alongside three perennial Pro Bowlers in left tackle Tyron Smith, right guard Zack Martin, and Frederick, the young lineman surely hopes those lessons help to make his transition to the professional playing field smoother in 2020.

Here’s what McGovern told FOX 56-WOLF last month …

"” [It’s] very easy to pick up new techniques when you have three All-Pro lineman and the best offensive line in the NFL. Travis Frederick, who just retired, was a great mentor to me. He helped bring me into the team, introduced me to everyone. He was a great role model to watch. Obviously, I want to be the best player I can be and see where I fit into this new system either at center or guard.”"

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The Dallas Cowboys saw a lot of potential in Connor McGovern, electing to use a high-draft selection to add him to an offensive line already stocked with All-Pros. The retirement of Travis Frederick and the introduction of a new offensive line coach opens the door for this once blinking light to turn on and make a major impact in his second season.