The Dallas Cowboys drafted Connor Williams in the second round (50th overall) in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his rookie campaign, it was no secret that Williams struggled mightily. He allowed 4.5 sacks and drew four holding penalties.
After needing arthroscopic knee surgery last November, Williams lost his starting role to Xavier Su’a-Filo who performed well. He ended up back in the lineup after filling in for the Zack Martin due to injury late in the year, and he started both playoff games in place of the injured Su’a-Filo.
While he showed growth and signs of promise late on, all in all, it was an underwhelming season for the rookie guard out of Texas. He was undersized and continuously pushed back into the quarterback by opposing defensive linemen. However, it looks like Williams has used this offseason to bulk up, reportedly adding 15 pounds to his frame. He sat at a very light 300 pounds last year and is now up to 315.
“The main thing that stood out was the weight,” Williams told SportsDay News. “That was something I knew I needed to work out during the offseason.”
Williams is also looking to add strength. As a rookie, he was able to bench 315 pounds ten times. Now, he’s benching 365 pounds up to nine times. With the added weight and strength, Williams will look to compete for the starting left guard spot.
“The main focus during the offseason is strength and getting the power up,” Williams told the Cowboys website. “I think I’ve put myself in a good position. Now it’s just about refining the technique and feeling comfortable.”
This year, however, he has more competition than just Su’a-Filo. The Cowboys spent their 3rd round pick (90th overall) on guard Connor McGovern out of Penn State. McGovern is bigger than Williams, and Su’a-Filo was more productive than Williams last season, which makes his battle for the starting job an uphill climb.
Joe Looney could also figure into the left guard conversation since Travis Frederick has appeared to recover from his Guillain-Barre syndrome and will start at center this year for the Cowboys. Looney filled in at center for the injured Frederick last season.
If winning the starting left guard spot doesn’t work out for Williams, they’ve also tried him at tackle. He could fit in as a backup guard and emergency tackle for the time being. Williams could eventually start at right tackle in 2020 if the Cowboys elect to let La’el Collins walk in free agency since they already have so much money tied up in the offensive line in Martin, Frederick, and Tyron Smith.
Williams has added both size and strength this offseason to prepare for the battle for a starting role. Whether it’s at left guard, right tackle, or even a reserve role, the Cowboys are expecting Williams to improve significantly this season and be a fixture on their offensive line for years to come.