Do the Cowboys have a long-term center? 2022 will reveal the answer.
Tyler Biadasz’s career has been interesting. As a fourth-round pick in 2020, Biadasz was coming into Dallas to backup Joe Looney. This was the first year without Travis Fredrick, so the Cowboys were scrambling for an answer at center. Biadasz would eventually get playing time due to a Looney injury but would be placed on IR during his rookie season.
He flashed bright enough in his limited time to receive the starting center spot in 2021. Last year’s performance was a mixed bag. Despite the ups and downs, Biadasz managed to play all 18 games, a feat that no other 2021 Dallas Cowboys lineman reached.
The Cowboys refused to address this position in the draft. Instead, they were able to add Boston College center Alec Lindstrom and BYU center James Empey in undrafted free agency. There are now four centers on the roster, another year where Biadasz needs to prove himself, and a line that needs leadership. It is a big year for the former fourth-round pick.
This upcoming season will be a telling year for Tyler Biadasz
Opinions on Biadasz often fall around “the jury is still out.” He hasn’t played horribly these last two years, but he is far from the talent level of his predecessor. In year one, Biadasz was “replaceable” by his PFF grade. Last season, with a grade of 65.1, he landed in the “backup quality” category.
While “backup quality” doesn’t exactly equate to a long-term solution, the improvement is what this season hinges on. Here is Biadasz’s jump from year one to year two in various metrics:
- 2020: 427 snaps, 1 sack allowed, 8 QB hurries, 11 pressures allowed, 97.8 efficiency in pass blocking, 4 penalties, 57.0 PFF run-blocking grade
- 2021: 1,274 snaps, 1 sack allowed, 17 QB hurries, 22 pressures allowed, 98.5 efficiency in pass blocking, 11 penalties, 68.7 PFF run-blocking grade.
Biadasz played nearly three times more snaps last season than during his rookie campaign. When you take the 2021 and 2020 numbers on a per-snap basis, his improvement is evident. He allowed seven fewer QB hurries, 11 fewer pressures, and three fewer sacks than he was on pace for in 2020. This is all while seeing his PFF run grade take a sizeable leap forward.
But the improvement needs to continue.
While all of those stats listed for 2021 are decent, they cannot be his peak. Because among starting centers (32 centers) last year, those numbers ranked:
- Sacks: T-5th
- QB hurries: 25th
- Pressures allowed: 22nd
- Efficiency in pass blocking: 9th
- Penalties: 1st
- PFF run-blocking grade: 15th
Biadasz was alright last year. No one will argue that he is a liability. However, outside of the one sack allowed, which is impressive, he was a mediocre to slightly-below average center. But if he can take that next step, there is evidence that Biadasz can become a top-ten center in the league. This is assuming he continues the progression that he demonstrated from 2020 to 2021.
It is worth noting that Jerry and Stephen Jones believe in this improvement. Despite Tyler Linderbaum being on the board at 24, they selected Tyler Smith. This was a sign of confidence in the third-year center out of Wisconsin.
However, 2022 is different for Biadasz. In the previous two years, he was a starter more out of necessity than leapfrogging the competition. As previously mentioned, his 427 snaps in 2020 were a result of a Joe Looney injury. Then in 2021, the only other center on the roster was a rookie seventh-round pick. Biadasz probably would have won the starting job even if there was some competition, but that was not the case.
We discussed this overall idea and interviewed Alec Lindstrom on the latest episode of 1st and 10 on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
While Dallas has not invested high draft capital in the position, there are new bodies. Matt Farniok, the only other center on the team last season, has another year to develop. Alec Lindstrom was added in undrafted free agency. Lindstrom was a three-time All-ACC player and it was somewhat surprising that he was not selected in the later rounds of the draft. James Empey was a four-year starter at BYU and was also not expected to reach UFA.
No, the Cowboys do not have a stable of All-Pro talent at center. But for the first time in his career, Biadasz has a decent number of players that could eventually contend for some reps. Don’t misinterpret this argument, Biadasz will almost certainly be the starter in week one, but he will be challenged in camp.
In 2022, these questions will be answered. Can Tyler Biadasz continue his progression and become a top-half to top-ten center in the NFL? If Tyler Biadasz doesn’t improve, is that enough? With more competition at center, will an unlikely face take some reps away? But the main question that fans and the front office will have an answer to after this season: Is Tyler Biadasz the long-term answer at center?
Entering the 2023 offseason, fans will likely have no questions about whether or not Dallas needs to invest in the center position. After this upcoming season, the answer will be clear. Tyler Biadasz, you have the stage.