After months of buildup and anticipation, the 2019 NFL Draft is officially over. We now know the Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie draft class, and for the most part what this team may look like when the season kicks off Week 1 against the division rival New York Giants.
The Cowboys 2019 rookie draft class isn't the most exciting on paper and definitely isn't what many of us expected, but it's a solid group nonetheless. Today I thought it would be a good idea to analyze this year's draft class a little so that hopefully it will ease your mind with the direction this team is heading this season and in the future.
Let's get started…
Round 2, 58th Overall – DT, Trysten Hill, UCF
I, like the Dallas Cowboys, was targeting Trysten Hill from the get-go with their first pick in the 2019 NFL Draft above any of the safety prospects that could have been available here. Finding defensive tackles with Hill's disruptive ability and athleticism is extremely difficult, especially outside the first-round. He is someone that should step in Day 1 and help the Cowboys pass rush at the under tackle position or the 3-technique next to DeMarcus Lawrence.
Hill is still a little raw as far as his technique and footwork are concerned, but those are areas of his game Rod Marinelli can easily correct. He also needs to improve his pad level because he tends to play a little too upright when he gets tired, but he's more capable of pushing Maliek Collins for the starting job. He will likely be a rotational DT his rookie season and then take over as the starter in Year 2 after Collins' contract expires.
Round 3, 90th Overall – OG, Connor McGovern, Penn State
Jaws collectively dropped when it was announced the Dallas Cowboys were drafting yet another offensive lineman in Connor McGovern with their third-round draft pick. It was the curveball nobody saw coming since the Cowboys offensive line was considered a position of strength, but it's a selection that may be a little underrated. He could be an ace in the hole if Travis Frederick struggles upon his return to the field, but at the very least upgrades the depth along the interior offensive line.
McGovern would likely be a Day 1 plug-and-play starter for just about any other team around the NFL, but in a perfect world he won't see the field his rookie season much with the Cowboys. This is an underrated move with the future in mind in my opinion, although he could compete with Connor Williams to become the starting left guard in 2019. I think the plan is for Williams to move to right tackle in 2020 after La'el Collins' contract expires and insert McGovern at LG in Year 2. He may not make much of an impact as a rookie, but anyway you slice it this is a solid move.
Round 4, 128th Overall – RB/WR, Tony Pollard, Memphis
We all expected the Dallas Cowboys to draft a running back at some point in the fourth-round, but it was a little surprising they decided to go with Tony Pollard considering some of the talent at the position that was still on the board. Pollard however is a really intriguing change of pace back that should pair really well with Ezekiel Elliott. He's a versatile weapon who can contribute in the running or passing game, and a home run threat anytime he touches the ball.
Pollard's versatility to contribute as a runner, receiver, and return man is pretty similar to what Alvin Kamara provides to the New Orleans Saints. It's a little unfair to compare him to such an established playmaker, but he can bring the same kind of skill set to the Cowboys offense if used correctly. It's up to new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore to take advantage of such a diverse weapon, but the fact they were so excited to bring him aboard above more proven RBs still on the board tells me they have a clear role for him in mind.
Round 5, 158th Overall – CB, Michael Jackson, Miami
Cornerback was an under the radar “need” for the Dallas Cowboys, especially if you take into consideration Byron Jones, Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis are all entering contract years either in 2019 or 2020. Michael Jackson was a two-year starter at Miami and provides some much-needed depth at the position. He has the size, length (6'1″, 205) Kris Richard prefers in his secondary and could carve out an important role for himself as a rookie.
Byron Jones is expected to be ready for the start of the 2019 season after having hip surgery about a month ago, but if he's unable to go Jackson could become the beneficiary. Richard was able to turn another fifth-round CB (Richard Sherman) into a difference making defensive playmaker during his time with the Seahawks, and the Cowboys are probably helping he can replicate that success with Jackson in Dallas. He did work him out privately ahead of the draft, so he should have a pretty good feel for what he's capable of.
Round 5, 165th Overall – DE, Joe Jackson, Miami
Joe Jackson is the second consecutive Miami Hurricanes defensive player the Dallas Cowboys decided to draft, and the first of two defensive ends. Outside of DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn, there are a lot of questions and concerns about the depth at the DE position for the Cowboys. No one knows what's going to happen to Randy Gregory and both Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong have yet to develop to the point they can be trusted or counted on.
Jackson (6'4″, 275) has the prototypical size the Dallas Cowboys look for in their DEs and projects to play on the left side behind DeMarcus Lawrence. He was as consistent as they come during his three-years at Miami and was one of only seven active FBS players in 2018 with at least 24 career sacks. He's not the most athletic player, but he brings a solid all-around skill set to the Cowboys and is a good value selection in the fifth-round.
Round 6, 213th Overall – S, Donovan Wilson, Texas A&M
The majority of Cowboys Nation was hoping and expecting the Dallas Cowboys to draft a safety early in the 2019 NFL Draft, quite possibly at 58th overall, but surprisingly they decided to wait until the sixth-round to address the position. Donovan Wilson is a hard-hitting safety who is at his best when playing around the line of scrimmage. Had a productive 2018 season, accumulating two interceptions, five pass deflections, two sacks, and 4.5 tackles for a loss.
Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, George Iloka, and Darian Thompson all become free agents after the 2019 season, meaning Wilson provides some much-needed depth as a rookie and could compete for a starting role in 2020. He will likely be nothing more than special-teams player who plays sparingly on defense in his first-year in Dallas, but has the upside to be much more in a year or two. Who knows, maybe Kris Richard can work his magic and get Wilson on the field earlier than expected.
Round 7, 218th Overall – RB, Mike Weber, Ohio State
After already drafting Running Back Tony Pollard in the fourth-round, it was somewhat surprising to see the Dallas Cowboys double down with the selection of Mike Weber. But, being able to get Weber this late in the draft is good value so I can understand their thinking. He's not the flashiest of runners, but he has a pretty good all-around skill set the Cowboys can use behind Ezekiel Elliott.
Weber is capable of picking up the “dirty” yards and is a solid pass catcher out of the backfield as well. He had a 1,000 yard season his first year after taking over for Zeke at Ohio State, but failed to reach that mark the next two seasons with the Buckeyes because he was in a timeshare with J. K. Dobbins. Overall, this is a good value signing that could become invaluable if Zeke (heaven forbid) had to miss some time. I believe he's more of an every down back then Tony Pollard.
Round 7, 241st Overall – DE, Jalen Jelks, Oregon
The Dallas Cowboys weren't done doubling down at a position of need and decided to take Defensive End Jalen Jelks with their final draft pick in the seventh-round of the 2019 NFL Draft. I know I've said this before, but I believe this is a good value selection because I had a fifth-round grade on Jelks. He joins a crowded defensive line, so he could have an uphill battle to make the roster.
Having said that though, he does fit the profile the Cowboys they like in their DEs. At 6'6″ with 34.5 inch arms, he definitely has the size and length to play the position. He played all over the Ducks 3-4 defensive front and has the nonstop motor and flexibility to become an effective pass rusher in the NFL. Making the final 53-man roster is probably a longshot, but he is someone worth stashing on the practice squad and developing.