America’s team began the 2019 NFL draft with only six picks. Although they didn’t have a first-round selection after trading it for Amari Cooper last year, they finished the weekend with eight new additions to their 90-man roster. Dallas traded back multiple times on Saturday to gain an extra two picks late in the draft. Below is a short breakdown of their 2019 draft class.
Trysten Hill (DT, Central Florida): 2nd Round, No. 58 overall
The Florida native was a favorite of Rod Marinelli’s this off-season. The defensive coordinator ran him through various drills during UCF’s pro day and was enamored by his initial quickness and motor.
The explosive defensive lineman addresses one of the Cowboys’ biggest needs at under tackle, a critical position in Marinelli’s defense. Drafting the energetic Hill on Friday night is not surprising. However, his selection at No. 58 overall could be considered a reach by a full round. Hill is Dane Brugler’s 91st overall prospect on his Top-100 Draft Board.
The recently-turned-21-year-old boasts an excellent upfield burst. His get-off is uncanny; he’s consistently out of his stance by the time his teammates react to the snap. The UCF Knight has an explosive first step, violent hands, and a superb motor, according to Brugler’s draft guide. This makes him a perfect fit for Marinelli’s one-gap, penetrating defensive scheme.
Hill needs refinement in his pass rush plan. He “lacks an efficient pass rush sequence with underdeveloped counters,” and his “overaggressive nature will make it difficult for him to break down in small spaces,” meaning he has a tendency to run himself out of position. There are also questions about his maturity. He allegedly “butted heads” with the new coaching staff at UCF last season, but the team says they’ve fully researched that issue and are comfortable with his mental and emotional makeup.
Connor McGovern (OG/C, Penn State): 3rd Round, No. 90 overall
Despite the supposed reach on their first overall pick in the second-round, Dallas made a value-based selection when they scooped up McGovern near the end of the third round. Jordan Reid, draft analyst for Cover 1, ranked the versatile interior offensive lineman as his 69th overall prospect in his 2019 Draft Guide. Jason Garrett said there was a “blinking light” telling them McGovern was undoubtedly the best player on their board when they went on the clock.
His selection frustrated many fans, who wanted the team to bring in an immediate contributor or starter. The Draft Show, hosted by the team’s website, considered the move to be a longer-term strategy that could see him man the left guard spot in 2020 while former Longhorn Connor Williams switches to right tackle, taking over for La’el Collins, who’s on the last year of his deal and will likely be too expensive to keep after this season.
According to Jordan Reid, the former Nittany Lion possesses a “fantastic anchor.” “He’s able to lockout and torque his body into a scorpion-like mold when anchoring down. Nearly impossible to move him off of his spot.” The third-team All-Big Ten honoree is described as a tough and physical player, fitting the style of his position coach, Marc Columbo.
Right now, the rookie out of Penn State needs a year in the weight room to add play strength. He also has a “poor tendency of lunging into blocks, which leads to ducking his head and having many reps where’s he’s knocked completely off balance.” Dane Brugler notes he tends to “forget his feet” when engaged with a defender and relies too much on his upper body.
Tony Pollard (RB, Memphis): 4th Round, No. 128 overall
Dallas had two fourth-round picks within eight spots of each other near the end of the round. In the minutes leading up to the first of those two selections, the top brass spoke with coaches Kris Richard and Kellen Moore in the war room. The team didn’t provide specific details about those conversations and weren’t asked if they were deciding between Houston corner Isaiah Johnson and Tony Pollard at that moment. But The Draft Show opined that they may have been debating the order in which to target the two of them to increase their chances of landing both.
They could’ve taken Johnson with the 128th selection. They’d been linked to him numerous times in the past couple of months with Kris Richard attending the University of Houston pro day at the end of March. He and Johnson had a long conversation after the former cougar’s workout.
Ultimately, they decided to give their rookie offensive coordinator a space-player who’s produced from the backfield, as a receiver, and as a kick returner. The fast and lengthy Johnson was snatched by the Raiders on the next pick. If they were trying to draft both players with their two fourth-round picks, they chose the wrong order.
Dane Brugler graded the former Memphis tiger as a sixth-round prospect. His draft stock may have taken a hit at the Combine due to a slow 40-yard dash (4.52 seconds). But Pollard was reported to have suffered from the effects of food poisoning and posted a blazing 4.38-second 40-yard dash at his pro day.
Pollard is a big play threat if given a lane, a jack of all trades-type that lines up all over the field and can be used as an effective chess piece in a multitude of ways. He’s an electric kick returner who’s scored seven return TDs. He has the developmental range of a bigger Lance Dunbar to a poor man’s Alvin Kamara. If Kellen Moore is as bright and innovative as Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones say he is, then the latter comparison is realistically possible. The Tennessee native possesses good acceleration to break into the open field and punish defenders who take weak angles.
He needs more development as a route runner. According to Brugler, Pollard “wasn’t asked to run anything resembling a diverse route tree,” and he has a “bad habit of hopping as he enters his route.” The December graduate also lacks the bulk and play strength to consistently break tackles.
Michael Jackson (CB, Miami): 5th Round, No. 158 overall
After Isaiah Johnson and John Cominsky were drafted before their pick at 136th overall, Dallas traded back twice. They then chose two former Hurricanes within a span of seven slots. The first was corner Michael Jackson.
Jordan Reid has an early fifth-round grade on him and sees him as the 131st overall player on his board.
From Jordan Reid: “Whether it’s as a blitzer or at all spots in the secondary, he has done it all. Frequently used as a blitzer off of the edge from the boundary or on third down, he understands how to time up the snap and successfully get home on blitzes for tackles for loss.” Jackson is also a “very high I.Q. player that understands the small factors about the game, he understands how to use the sideline to his advantage.”
“Needs to be more urgent when in press. Lets his hands/arms hang by his side, leaving chest exposed. When he wants to shoot his hands and initiate contact, it’s too late.”
Joe Jackson (DE, Miami): 5th Round, No. 165 overall
The team’s second pick in the fifth round was Joe Jackson. This was another good value pick, according to Jordan Reid’s draft guide. The strong and lengthy defensive end was the 132nd overall player on Jordan’s board, one spot below teammate Michael Jackson.
Jason Garrett and his staff see him as a left end (strong side) candidate in their system.
“Stronger playing style led to much more consistency at the contact point. Jackson was able to set a firm edge and made life difficult on offensive tackles who attempted to reach block him in order to set the edge.”
Lacks burst. “The first-step quickness and explosion that was apparent in 2017 disappeared in 2018.” Needs to learn how to use his length. He has “long arms, but he doesn’t understand how to utilize them as a run defender nor as a pass rusher.”
Donovan Wilson (S, Texas A&M): 6th Round, No. 213 overall
The Cowboys took a flier on safety Donovan Wilson late in the sixth round. He showed very good length at the Combine, standing six feet tall with 33-3/8-inch arms. He also posted explosive numbers in the vertical jump (36 inches) and broad jump (127 inches). Dane Brugler listed Wilson as a priority free agent on his draft guide.
Plays with aggressiveness, flashes smarts and play recognition.
According to Brugler, Wilson’s strength is also his weakness. “His overaggressive pursuit angles and poor technique lead to missed tackles.”
Mike Weber (RB, Ohio State): 7th Round, No. 218 overall
Five picks after drafting Donovan Wilson, the Cowboys double-dipped at running back by grabbing Buckeye Mike Weber. Brugler actually lists Weber ahead of Tony Pollard on his running back rankings. To have landed him in the seventh round is great value for Dallas.
During The Draft Show broadcast, Brugler mentioned that Weber was a do-everything type of back. He was reliable at Ohio State and showed some quickness and acceleration through the hole.
“Not a make-you-miss threat. Minimal run power and lacks the body strength to consistently force his way through gaps.”
Jalen Jelks (DE, Oregon): 7th Round, No. 241 overall
Lastly, Dallas made yet another late value pick with their last selection of the 2019 NFL draft. Jalen Jelks was Brugler’s 26th best edge defender and carried a fifth-to-sixth-round grade.
From Dane Brugler: “Comfortable on his feet. Dependable effort and competitive play style.” Possesses excellent length and solid athleticism.
“Sleek, narrow-hipped athlete with a lean muscle tone. Underpowered and doesn’t play stout.”