Before the Miami Dolphins got a decision from prime free-agent tackle Terron Armstead Tuesday night, they had already taken one step this offseason toward fixing a troublesome, concerning offensive line.
Former Dallas Cowboys guard Connor Williams comes to Miami as one potential solution on a line that could probably use upgrades at four of the five positions.
Because of this, it’s unclear if Williams will remain where he has spent most of his professional career, left guard, or if he ends up playing elsewhere for the Dolphins. Left guard seems like a natural fit, based on his experience and Miami’s makeshift use there last season of former left tackle Austin Jackson, a struggling 2020 first-round pick.
“As of now, it is still really open,” Williams said in a Monday web conference call with reporters. “After meeting the coaches and everything, they’ve seen my ability to play really any position. Obviously, most of my work in the league has been at guard and, at that, it has been at left guard and I feel most comfortable at left guard. But also, they understand that I can probably play tackle, I can play center and so it’s really wherever I’m needed and wherever I’m placed is where I’m willing to work.”
Williams, who turns 25 in May, noted he played tackle in college at Texas and has taken snaps at center in preseason games. In addition to left guard and tackle, the Dolphins could use help at center.
Williams brought those left tackle pass-blocking skills to guard with the Cowboys. He surrendered just one sack in 2021 and allowed 13 quarterback pressures, which was second-fewest among guards with at least 200 pass-blocking snaps. Pro Football Focus also tabbed Williams the league’s No. 10 run-blocking guard among those with the same number of run-blocking snaps.
The concerning part of Williams’ game last season, however, was the uptick in penalties. He had 11 accepted holding calls go against him. That after he had 10 in his first three NFL seasons combined.
Williams said that was uncharacteristic of him to commit that many holds.
“Honestly, it was a one-off year, and it’s not a reputation I’ve had in previous years,” he said. “I think a lot of things not going the right way and just build on the season.”
He comes to Miami with a mindset to fix that issue after it popped up for him in 2021.
“No excuses to be made, but just fine-tuning my craft and knowing when to let go and when not to and just focusing on the very details and just playing a cleaner game,” Williams said. “Honestly, that comes with an additional year of experience. One year at a time. This game is all about experience and live reps. The more you get those, the more you’re comfortable with it and the more you understand the full scope of what you’re doing.”
Williams also had just one false start go against him in 2021, the fewest since his rookie season, when he played nearly 300 fewer offensive snaps. He had three other declined or offsetting penalties called on him last year.
Williams feels he’s a good fit in the outside-zone running scheme new coach Mike McDaniel will install, and it was part of the reason he signed his two-year, $14 million deal with Miami that guarantees him $7.5 million.
“That was one of the best things we did in Dallas, was coming off the ball, running side to side, getting the D-line moving and getting the defense on their feet and then penetrating the defense with the run game,” Williams explained. “Once you get the defense on their heels, then you can get them in the air, you can dish it out.
“After talking to coach, you can tell his excitement in bringing this new zone scheme into Miami. That is part of the reason I’m here, is to be part of that building block of starting a great zone scheme.”
Williams, still young himself, brings some of the most experience among a Dolphins offensive line that returns Hunt, Jackson, Liam Eichenberg, Michael Deiter, Solomon Kindley, Robert Jones, Greg Little and Larnel Coleman. Williams recalls learning from the likes of Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins coming into the league at 20-years-old.
“Just having a younger O-line group, it’s going to be exciting,” Williams said. “It’s going to be some good energy of just being able to get to work day-in and day-out with guys that are eager, that are hungry and just being able to grow as a unit together.”
Source: Berkshire mont