2020 started off somewhat promising for Trysten Hill. After basically redshirting his rookie season, Hill got a fresh start under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Hill, for his part, was showing some of the skills that made him the Cowboys second round pick in 2019.
Hill showed burst and penetration off of the line of scrimmage. He showed a really strong effort as well, chasing plays from behind and stringing ball carriers toward the sideline.
It was encouraging to see him making plays in the backfield and providing pressure as a pass rusher even if it wasn't great play consistently. The Cowboys were getting something out of him.
Then the injury bug hit and Hill was lost for the season. Like Dak Prescott, Hill was injured in the week five game against the New York Giants. Through those five games, Hill had nine total pressures and seven “stops” per Pro Football Focus.
For perspective, Hill's nine pressures were tied for 26th in the NFL. Not great, but tied with the Giants Leonard Williams, San Francisco's Javon Kinlaw, and Tampa Bay's Ndamukong Suh.
Much like the rest of the Cowboys defense, things weren't great in the early part of the season. However, Trysten Hill was one of the bright spots. He certainly had areas where he had to get better but he flashed glimpses of what had everyone excited about him coming out of the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Dallas Cowboys made a concerted effort to address the interior defensive line this offseason. They brought in a defensive coordinator to bring in more 1-gap principles to the defense. Relative to Trysten Hill, they added a ton of players to compete for snaps along the interior.
in free agency, the Cowboys added Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins. in the NFL Draft, they added Osa Odighizuwa, Chauncey Gholston (an EDGE who can play inside), and Quinton Bohanna. Add those to Neville Gallimore who also showed a ton of promise in 2020 and you've got a defensive interior set up to create a lot of competition for snaps in training camp.
Trysten Hill will be on the roster in 2021 but his snap count is far from guaranteed. And while he has two years remaining on his rookie deal, the Cowboys could get out from under it and save just over $900,000 this year and a little more than $1 million next year.
The Cowboys want to see Hill take the next step and be the force they thought he could be when they selected him. But he has to do just that in 2021. He'll be faced with the challenge of returning from injury while competing with a deep group along the interior defensive line. If early 2020 is any indication, Trysten Hill will be up for the challenge.