5 key players the Dallas Cowboys might lose this off-season

Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Connor Williams, Dallas Cowboys
Connor Williams, Dallas Cowboys (Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports) /

. . . Connor Williams, LG. 4. player. 123

Part of having an efficient run game is fielding powerful offensive linemen. Not many play the run better than left guard Connor Williams.

Williams was an offensive tackle in college with the Texas Longhorns but was immediately converted into a guard and never looked back. Injuries cost him games in his first two seasons, and he missed some snaps due to getting benched this season.

Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have been comfortable running to the left, knowing Williams will clear the way. You will see six feet and five inches of brute force making linebackers look like high school players.

He has improved a ton in pass coverage this season. He ranks 17th in the NFL among all offensive linemen for allowing pressures on only 2.48 percent of his pass-blocking snaps. That’s while allowing only one sack and four tackles for a loss of yards.

However, penalties have been an issue for Williams, which led to him being benched this season. His 13 penalties have him tied for second-most in the NFL. Williams’ 70.6 overall PFF player rating ranks him 18th among offensive guards.

The Cowboys quickly grew a greater appreciation for Williams when they benched him. That’s because when Connor McGovern played in his place, the pass protection collapsed.

Jones may have his hands tied this off-season. It might be hard to fit Williams into the budget, but it might also be worse trying to replace him. Williams has an estimated value at a four-year deal paying him $10.2 million annually. That ranks him 10th in the NFL among guards and slightly passes what the Cowboys are paying right tackle La’el Collins.

The best-case scenario is either for Connor McGovern to take a significant step up this off-season or to have a pro-ready lineman fall to Dallas in the first round of the draft. If neither happens, Prescott might be in a worse situation next season.