Former Texas offensive lineman Connor William's dream come true of being drafted by his hometown team being able to continue his career 20 minutes from his parents home in Coppell was born out of a Dallas Cowboys nightmare in Atlanta.
The Cowboys had two players in mind when it was there turn to pick in the second round on Friday. It was Williams and a defensive end.
The team decided to go offense with Williams and helped shore up the offensive line because owner Jerry Jones and the entire organization still wakes up in cold sweats over the 27-7 loss to the Falcons on Nov. 12, 2017.
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The team was without running back Ezekiel Elliott who began his six-game suspension that fateful afternoon. But the Cowboys were also without left tackle Tyron Smith and they did not see that nightmare his absence would bring.
Quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked eight times, including six by little-known defensive end Adrian Clayborn against backup left tackles Chaz Green and Byron Bell.
The game impacted Prescott's play and the way the coaching staff called plays the rest of the season. It was the start of a three-game losing streak that ultimately cost Dallas a chance at a playoff spot.
"We were going over our needs and both were top players in our ranking and both fit great needs," Owner Jerry Jones said. "What reminded me the most to go the way we went was the Atlanta game. That’s influenced this coaching staff, and that has influenced really this select. We don’t want to have that happen, that took a lot of air out of us there.
''I think that the Connor Williams pick was a real classic, because we could have helped our team either way with players that were rated very appropriate for that, and we decided to cure with personnel. We decided to cure what happened at Atlanta as best we could."
The game has impacted the team's decisions throughout the off-season. They let left guard Jonathan Cooper walk in free agency. They didn't resign Bell. They added tackle Cameron Fleming and guard Marcus Martin in free agency.
Williams will likely plug in at left guard with Fleming, who started last year’s Super Bowl for New England, serving as the swing tackle.
"The offensive line is our strength," vice president Stephen Jones said. "Strengthening that was important to us. We got two really special players that play behind that line. We wanted to take care of Dak and Zeke. We wanted to keep that strong. When the debate was over we felt that was the right pick.' And put an end to the Atlanta nightmares.