When the Dallas Cowboys came on the clock toward the end of the second round in the 2019 NFL Draft, many people expected them to consider safety to be a top priority at that point. For a team that had been chasing Earl Thomas for the previous year and had several safeties in for visits, Taylor Rapp and Juan Thornhill were there for the Cowboys to draft. Instead, they opted to select Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill.
At the time, both Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard talked about the importance of building a defense from front to back. Thus the selection of Trysten Hill.
His lack of playing time and production has put the Cowboys front office under the spotlight, especially when Kansas City’s Juan Thornhill and Los Angeles’ Taylor Rapp have made significant plays for their respective teams. Just this past Sunday, both of the 2019 rookie safeties recorded interception returns for a touchdown in their teams’ wins last week.
Hill has only been active for five of the Cowboys 12 games this season. With Antwaun Woods out with an injury the last couple of weeks, Trysten Hill’s found an opportunity to play and he’s taking advantage of that opportunity at a time when the Cowboys need interior defensive line play.
Jason Garrett: “Trysten (Hill) did a good job in the game. There’s no question he’s getting better and better.” Rookie second-round pick showed good discipline. Could be active again Thursday with NT Antwaun Woods (knee) likely inactive vs. Bears.
In the Thanksgiving Day game against the Buffalo Bills, Hill had quite possibly his best game of the season with two total tackles, a tackle for loss, and two stops per Pro Football Focus.
From the beginning, Hill was dubbed a work in progress. He needed to work on playing with better leverage and a better base. Hill needed to play with better play strength, especially against double teams. According to Head Coach Jason Garrett, Hill has been improving and with another opportunity for playing time this week against the Chicago Bears, there’s a chance he could see further improvement to his game.
For young players, playing time is key to development. It’s one of the reasons Taco Charlton never really worked out in Dallas. There wasn’t much playing time available behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Charlton was never able to earn snaps along the rest of the defensive line. With Woods out, there are more snaps available along the defensive line and it looks as if Hill is taking advantage of the playing time.
Hill’s still looking for his first career sack, but if he continues to earn snaps, opportunities to rush the passer will come. A player with his ability to penetrate and get off the ball can’t be kept out of the backfield for long. Though it would have been nice to get something out of him each week this season, it’s nice that the Cowboys aren’t having to wait until 2020 for their second-round pick to start providing quality snaps for them.