(PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys offensive guard Connor Williams participates in drills during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys headquarters at The Star. Photo by Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.)
By Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com
This is part of a series -- Finding the Fits -- in which NFLDraftScout.com will review the more intriguing picks made during the 2018 NFL Draft. The goal is to identify one relatively unheralded player per team who appears to be a good schematic fit and, therefore, more likely to be a surprise contributor early in his pro career.
Dallas Cowboys' best fit: Connor Williams, OL, Texas, selected No. 50 overall (second round)
There was an intersection of emotional impact and functionality when Dallas selected Williams, an All-American left tackle with the Texas Longhorns who grew up just down the road in Coppell, Texas, dreaming of playing for the Cowboys.
With All-Pro Tyron Smith already secure in his role as Dak Prescott's blindside protector, Williams' best chance at immediate playing time for new Dallas offensive line coach Paul Alexander might be at left guard. Once a position of strength, veterans Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green struggled last season attempting to replace free-agent defection Ron Leary (Denver) at the position.
The transition between tackle and the more physical position of guard is a difficult one, although it is one that Williams is well-suited to handle. Unlike most college tackles, Williams showed plenty of aggression and power blocking in the running game for the Longhorns.
Questions about his fit in the pros may have contributed to Williams' draft-day drop, but this is not simply a case of a college tackle being asked to slide inside to guard because he possesses shorter-than-ideal arms (33 inches). Williams' square-ish frame and physical nature actually project better inside.
At tackle, he is a former high school tight end who has the feet and balance to mirror pass rushers. He immediately improves Dallas' depth behind Smith, who has missed three games each of the past two seasons due to injury.
A player with Williams' upside could excel between Smith and All-Pro Travis Frederick, giving the Cowboys a remodeled version of the dominating offensive line that helped Ezekiel Elliott rush for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns two years ago, when Dallas won the NFC East.
Most players would have been disappointed with the draft-day slide. Williams, one of the final players invited to the Green Room to actually be drafted, instead reacted with the excitement appropriate given his professional homecoming.
"It's the Dallas Cowboys," Williams proudly announced as his phone rang. "It's America's team. I live 20 minutes down the road. It's home. To be on the phone and see my 972 area code calling, it was a dream come true."
"I honestly wore blue (on draft day) because I'm from Dallas and I love Dallas," Williams continued. "I wanted to represent the Cowboys. I didn't say it, but I wanted to be a Cowboy. It was all worth it, and I'm happy.
"I waited longer than I would have liked, but it all worked out. It's fueled me, and I've got a fire in me, and I can't wait to get to work."