When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Trysten Hill last year in the second round, the assumption was that he’d take over as a starting defensive tackle in 2020. But after signing Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe this offseason, are the Cowboys indicating that they’ve already lost faith in Hill?
One of the immediate points gleaned from the 2019 NFL Draft was, based on the Hill pick, that Dallas didn’t plan to re-sign Maliek Collins after the season. And that assumption proved accurate; Collins signed with the Raiders without any sign that the Cowboys attempted to keep him.
A year ago that prediction was based on the idea that Trysten Hill, after a year of grooming, would be able to step into a larger role. That’s what you typically expect from second and even third-round picks in most cases.
But it was a rough rookie season for Hill, not getting much playing time early and also being disciplined by then-coach Jason Garrett for tardiness and sleeping at team meetings. However, his performance did seem to be on an upswing by the end of the year.
Clearly it wasn’t enough for the Cowboys to trust him in 2020, though. They added Gerald McCoy on a three-year deal to play the same spot on the line, the “3-tech” DT role, where Hill is most suited.
The fact that it’s a three-year contract is especially damning. It’d be one thing if it was just a single-year deal; a chance for Trysten to keep being groomed and learning from one of the best in the business. But McCoy’s three years will run through the end of Hill’s rookie contract with Dallas.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that McCoy will see the end of his own contract. Few veterans his age do; Gerald will be 35 by the time this deal expires.
Nevertheless, Cowboys fans rightfully have their antennae up when it comes to failed draft picks, especially when it comes to defensive linemen.
We’re just coming off watching Taco Charlton, the first-round pick in 2017, not even make it to October of his third season. Dallas had to release Taco after failing to find a trade partner, replacing him with veteran Robert Quinn.
One of the concerns here, and rightfully so, is that the departed Rod Marinelli had a hand in drafting both Charlton and Hill. If he couldn’t even get it right with the 28th pick in 2017, how much more room for error was there 30 picks later?
Marinelli being gone is actually part of this equation for Trysten’s job security in Dallas. While the front office is the same, nearly all of the coaches who helped pick Hill have been swept away. Only Leon Lett, an assistant to Marinelli and now to Jim Tomsula on the defensive line, remains.
That means Trysten Hill will now have to prove himself to a coaching staff with less vested interest in or loyalty to him. That may by why Gerald McCoy is here to begin with; the new coaches aren’t going to risk their own jobs on a second-round kid who had a shaky rookie year.
Without inside knowledge it would be going too far to say that the Cowboys are done with Trysten. He still has a great opportunity in 2020 to learn from an elite player and become part of the rotation. Perhaps that will set him up for bigger things in the final two years of his rookie contract.
But clearly, by loading up on talent in free agency, the Dallas Cowboys have indicated they’re not ready to trust Trysten Hill this season. Hopefully his performance in 2020, both on and off the field, helps change that in the near future.