The Dallas Cowboys are officially halfway through their 2019 season after the win over the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. With that in mind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take a closer look at the Cowboys rookie class and hand out some midseason grades.
After each and every NFL draft teams are hopeful their rookie class can come in and contribute on a regular basis, but that’s not always the case. For the Dallas Cowboys this year’s rookies are a mixed bag of results through the first eight games of their season.
Let’s take a look at the Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie class and how they’ve performed up until this point…
Cowboys Midseason Rookie Report
Round 2 – Pick 26 (58) DT Trysten Hill
Despite having several quality safety prospects still available at 58th overall, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Trysten Hill instead. He’s been inactive for several games this year and has only played 18.25% of the defensive snaps so far. Immaturity and work ethic seemed to be the main culprits in his lack of production, but he does have the talent to turn things around.
Round 3 – Pick 27 (90) G Connor McGovern
The Connor McGovern pick in the third round was an odd one for the Dallas Cowboys. Despite investing quite a bbit in the OL already, the Cowboys believed McGovern was far superior to any of the other players left on the board. Only time will tell, but landing on injured reserve doesn’t help the team in 2019.
Round 4 – Pick 26 (128) RB Tony Pollard
Tony Pollard has been one of the lone bright spots from the Cowboys 2019 draft class. He’s averaging 4.6 yards per carry and has a 100 yard game under his belt this season, but his underutilization is concerning. To date, he’s only played 19.22% of the offensive snaps. Hopefully that changes in the second half of the season because he’s proven to be a dynamic weapon.
Round 5 – Pick 20 (158) CB Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson spent the first half of the 2019 season on the Cowboys practice squad before being poached/signed to the Detroit Lions active roster in Week 8. There was hope he could compete for a starting job next season after a year of development, but that’s no longer the case.
Round 5 – Pick 27 (165) DE Joe Jackson
Joe Jackson started the season on the 46-man roster, but has failed to make much of an impact halfway through the season. He has the versatility to play DE or DT, but may need more time to develop his craft before he can be relied upon. He has shown enough promise though and could develop into a solid rotational player in time.
Round 6 – Pick 41 (213) S Donovan Wilson
Despite showing promise in preseason, Donovan Wilson has yet to play a single defensive snap or record a single statistic for the Cowboys this season. It’s hard to judge him based on his lack of playing time, but the promise he showed in preseason is enough to make you believe he’s capable of doing more if given the opportunity.
Round 7 – Pick 4 (218) RB Mike Weber
Mike Weber is currently on the Cowboys practice squad. Maturity and work ethic needs to improve if he wants to become anything more than a PS player.
Round 7 – Pick 27 (241) DE Jalen Jelks
Jalen Jelks has spent the entire season on injured reserve. He gave himself a chance to make the Cowboys 53-man roster out of training camp and it’s those flashes that could earn him a defensive role in time.
Undrafted Free Agent – G/T Brandon Knight
Brandon Knight has started at right tackle for an injured La’el Collins and recently served has the swing tackle in place of Cameron Fleming when he was out with a calf injury. Excluding special teams, the UFA has received the most playing time out of any of the Dallas Cowboys rookies.
Biggest Rookie Letdown
I don’t think anyone would argue, but the biggest letdown from the Dallas Cowboys 2019 rookie class has to be the play of Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill. He will forever be compared to the safety prospects (Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill, Nasir Adderley), whether fair or not. Despite the need to upgrade the safety position, the Cowboys drafted Hill as a hopeful upgrade at DT. So far, he’s been far from an upgrade.
I’m not ashamed to admit, but I liked the selection of Trysten Hill at the time. Now though I’m not so sure. I really liked Hill’s talent/upside and believed he’d be contributing more than he has at this point in the season. That simply hasn’t been the case and his lack of production more than likely resulted in the Cowboys trading for Michael Bennett. I’m still hopeful he can turn things around in the second half of the season, but for right now I think he’s the biggest letdown from this year’s rookie class.
Biggest Rookie Surprise
I couldn’t make up my mind whether or not Tony Pollard or Brandon Knight has been the biggest rookie surprise halfway through the season, so I’m going to call it a tie. I think each deserve to land in this category, but for different reasons than you may think.
Take Brandon Knight for instance. To go from undrafted free agent (UFA) to emergency fill-in for La’el Collins at right tackle and swing tackle in place for an injured Cameron Fleming is a huge accomplishment. UFA’s have a hard enough time just making a team out of training camp, but to be valued enough to not only make the game the roster but also earn a backup role is huge.
Now let’s get to why I added Tony Pollard as one of the biggest rookie surprises. Yes, he’s shown flashes of being a dynamic weapon, but I think we can all agree he’s been underutilized through the first eight weeks of the season. As someone who is touted as being an Alvin Kamara like weapon it’s somewhat surprising he hasn’t been more involved in the game plan. Hopefully that changes from here on out.