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All-22 film review: Buffalo Bills’ new guard, Connor McGovern

The dominoes are starting to fall

Dallas Cowboys v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Now, nothing is official yet but usually the unofficial signings turn out to be how the chips fall in the end. The Buffalo Bills signed (now former) Dallas Cowboys guard Connor McGovern. The clips below come from the 2022 season where McGovern spent time at left guard. You’ll hear a lot about positional versatility with McGovern, which has some merit. However, I’m a “What have you done lately” kind of guy, so we’ll focus on the left side of the offensive line ledger this time around.

Play 1 — Connor McGovern’s mixed bag

I struck gold early on in this game with film review as this one clip shows a lot about Connor McGovern. May as well just continue on to the next article I suppose. Maybe learn some math or something?

Oh right, this play. McGovern was initially shoved back but anchored before it was too late. He then used what I think is his best skill, which is directing his opponent sideways. Javon Hargrave had been winning this one until the end when McGovern wrenched to his left (our right).

McGovern is prone to an initial walk-back but often recovers well, frequently with this technique.

Play 2 — McGovern displays good reaction and burst

Check out McGovern’s MockDraftable chart here. He’s a respectable athlete, but the only thing that stands out is the broad jump — which is often a decent indicator of initial burst capability. One thing that stood out in general as a positive for McGovern was his ability to burst between defenders when needed.

Play 3 — McGovern and the “meh” block

Let’s follow up the positive with a negative. This play likely wouldn’t have gone for a big gain if Connor McGovern nailed it, for the record. However, the loss on this block likely cost a yard or two. McGovern doesn’t have an initial punch that could have saved the day here, though that is a riskier technique on the move. More to the point of the play title above: he lagged a bit and couldn’t get to a point where he had leverage, and also failed to really grasp or get anything on his contact. His opponent slipped off pretty easily.

Play 4 — Fighting through the chaos with McGovern

I like to see how players perform when the unexpected happens and I got lucky finding this clip with McGovern. Maintaining posture/positioning is critical for leverage and this jolt to the back could have gone very poorly for McGovern. He reset rapidly and overall I would call this a very good rep.

Play 5 — McGovern’s hand fighting

I’m about to say something I know will be very unpopular ‘round these parts. To my eyes, Connor McGovern looks like a finesse player more than one who imposes his will on others. “Finesse” shouldn’t be a dirty word though, and here’s a silver lining play. I really like the hand fighting displayed here, and similar glimpses flashed throughout his film.

Play 6 — McGovern again walked back by defender

I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here or anything, but a reminder on this is likely in order. Connor McGovern shouldn’t be expected to come in and power his way through the Bills’ opponents. That doesn’t mean I think he’s a bad player, but it’s better to lay out possible flaws from the get-go.

Play 7 — Quick change in the phone booth

I always like to end on a high note, so I’ll remind everyone of one of the strengths I saw with McGovern’s 2022 tape. McGovern is able to pivot and apply some force to a second defender pretty well. Call this the “Clark Kent” technique, as he’s in a phone booth and changing.

In summary

Would I shock anyone by suggesting this isn’t a flash signing? Every year there’s going to be acquisitions that are pretty ho-hum, and that’s how the Buffalo Bills start off their 2023 free agency class. I know there’s one question everyone is asking and as much as I hate to say it the answer is “maybe.” I’m not sure McGovern is an upgrade.

There’s some technique to work with, and his agility is up there for sure. I think some flaws can be coached up, though McGovern is reaching the point where the whole “old dog, new tricks” dilemma may be a problem. McGovern is pretty similar to what the Bills have done the last few years, with finesse outweighing power. McGovern shouldn’t be a downgrade, but “upgrade” is not something I would count on either.