The NFL Draft is the annual tradition for NFL Teams to gamble on the prospects they deemed the best for their teams. Some teams hit like the New Orleans Saints in 2018 (Marshon Lattimore and Ryan Ramczyk) where all their picks are starters and some whiff like the Cleveland Browns in 2015 (Danny Shelton and Cam Erving) where they are lucky to play more than 7 games.
America’s Team gets no exception as Dallas’s 2019 draft class would one of the biggest busts since 2015, and with these players being on their last year of their rookie contracts, I thought I’d go over what these players has done for a possible extension, if they are still on the team of course.
2019 Draft Class
Dallas would draft 8 players in 2019, with their 1st Round pick was traded to then Oakland Raiders for Alabama star Amari Cooper. That pick would go on to be safety Jonathan Abram, that was recently not picked up for a fifth-year option with the team and hasn’t played a full season for Las Vegas. While Amari would lead Dallas in receiving in 2019 and 2020, made a Pro Bowl, and will still be a starting wide receiver for the Browns (no, I don’t want to talk about it).
Arguably, the trade has been declared in favor of Dallas here. Amari was a blossoming player that really unlocked what Dallas can do (if they can only finish it in the postseason) while Abram can’t stay healthy for his team. In the draft after Abram, N’Keal Harry and Deebo Samuel were the next receivers on the board.
Harry definitely wouldn’t produce as well as Cooper and Samuel is an interesting scenario one can run on Madden 20 but as far as the trade, Dallas won fair and square. Now let’s go over Dallas’s first pick in the second round…
2nd Round, 59: Trysten Hill, C. Florida
2019 was a make or break season for Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli. Dallas lost David Irving to retirement, and Antwaun Woods was on a contract year. The Defensive Tackle was a questionable core, so instead of best available or best fit, Dallas went onto what was their solution by drafting Trysten Hill.
Hill committed to Central Florida after abandoning Virginia to play football as a true freshman. He would start every game for his Freshman and Sophomore seasons, even being second-team All ACC in 2017, but all would fall in his Junior year.
Hill would only start one game after falling out of favor with Scott Frost’s coaching staff. Hill’s incapability to work his coaches and his work ethic questioned how far he would go in the draft, but Dallas took the chance. If there’s one word to describe Hill’s rookie season, it was unimpressive.
Hill would never start and only played 7 games and was inactive for the rest of the season. Hill would only record 5 combined tackles, one being a tackle for loss. 2020 was looking to be promising for the young DT, after starting the first 5 games of the season, recording 11 combined tackles (as well as some controversial hits on Chris Carson and Russell Wilson in Week 3), but would be cut short after tearing his ACL after week 5 game against the Giants, ending his season.
2021 would be the disappointing nail in the coffin for Hill after being on the PUP list for most of the season and failing to start one of the six games he played. Hill would record 11 tackles (different solo to assisted ratio this time), three quarterback hits, half a sack, and a one game suspension after punching Raiders guard John Simpson.
To say the least he’s bad. Even though he’s had to work with three defensive coordinators (Marinelli, Mike Nolan and Dan Quinn) but it’s obvious he can’t keep up. Dallas would even draft Neville Gallimore in 2020 and he’s done more than Hill already.
Hill has been a cut-candidate in articles for the last couple years because Dallas has hope for him and won’t let him go. Not mention that within the next 10 picks on the board was Juan Thornhill, who would make the All-Rookie Team, and Taylor Rapp (and both have a SB ring as well); Dallas needed safety help but instead went with Hill.
What now? I’d say Dallas will probably keep him until his contract expires and let him go. Trysten needs some new scenery because it is apparent that Dallas is not a spot that will make him succeed in the league.
3rd Round, 90: Connor McGovern, Penn St
It was a good time for Dallas when it came to their offensive line. Travis Frederick puts on his cleats after his fight with Guillain–Barré syndrome, La’el Collins signed 5 year contract, and you still had Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. The only question was who was Left Guard?
Joe Looney was starting center in 2018 so he’s got starter implications. Connor Williams was the starter in 2018 but got benched for Xavier Su’a-Filo midseason. Oh yeah, and both Looney and Su’a-Filo were on their contract year.
So Dallas wanted to be ready to depose one or both of these guys with drafting Connor McGovern. No, not the Broncos soon Jets center, but Connor McGovern from Penn State.
McGovern played three seasons in Penn State, moving all over the interior offensive line, being named 3rd-Team All-Big Ten (that’s a thing?) in his sophomore year. In McGovern’s rookie season, he’d tear a pectoral muscle and miss the season. Already not a good start.
In 2020, McGovern would begin the season backup to Connor Williams and Zack Martin in the offensive guard position, and wouldn’t make a play until Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals when Martin left the game with a concussion, McGovern would play right guard for the rest of the season while Martin came back played right tackle, and unlike some guys on this class, McGovern played well as a right guard.
2021, McGovern would still be the backup of the guards but eventually started in left guard after ‘Penalty Boy’ Connor Williams was benched for poor performance, and that’s where McGovern started to turn spoiled. McGovern would be devastating to watch playing left guard.
Six games later, Dallas would start Williams over McGovern. Dallas rather have a holding penalty every other offensive drive than have McGovern play. On the board for Dallas could’ve drafted was Trey Pipkins and Bobby Evans which are all kind of in the same category right now.
What now? I’d say Dallas has an interesting choice here. But McGovern is two bad seasons out of three, and Martin for the most part is healthy. McGovern has the preseason and maybe if Tyler Smith has poor performance to prove he’s something in Dallas, but I won’t be surprised if he is gone sooner than later.
4th Round, 128: Tony Pollard, Memphis
Tony Pollard is 100% the best player to come out of this draft class and it’s not even close. In 2018, Ezekiel Elliott was a one-man band. Elliott’s backups were strong-back Cowboys Legend Rod Smith, Darius Jackson and sometimes Tavon Austin. Dallas needed a solid running back that can lighten the load for Ezekiel (or he gets suspended again). Thus, Pollard was drafted.
In his three seasons at Memphis, Pollard played hybrid wide receiver and running back and killed it for his team; Pollard took home All-AAC, AAC Special Teams Player of the Year twice and Consensus All-American in 2017. When the preseason started, Pollard was already making an impact for Dallas. After crushing the competition, Pollard was the backup to Elliott for his rookie season.
After going over 500 in all-purpose yards twice, 2021 would be his big season, going 719 in rushing, 337 in receiving, and even a kick return touchdown. Pollard has even made the Dallas fanbase question who they want as their RB1 because of how well Pollard played (*Spoiler Alert: They both work together so split the load).
What now? I’d say Dallas should keep him and rework Zeke’s contract because him and Elliott are a great duo and I don’t want to spilt it. The only problem is Dallas themselves.
As the preseason continues, speculation looms that Dallas is saving cap space for Ceedee Lamb, Tre’Von Diggs, and Micah Parsons. Though it’s just rumors, it makes sense why they’d report that. Dallas has history of letting running backs go on to a new team, for the better or for the worse (looking at Demarco Murray).
So I’m very concerned that Dallas might just let Pollard go, restructure Zeke and draft his replacement next season. But if one thing is for sure, he’s the best pick out of this 2019 draft class.
5th Round, 158: Michael Jackson Sr., Miami
Dallas in 2019 was looking for the next starter for when it came to cornerbacks. Cowboys had Byron Jones and Anthony Brown for one more season. Jourdan Lewis was looking to be a strong nickelback.
So Dallas drafted Jackson Sr to sit back for a year and start next season. Jackson played four seasons with University of Miami, being a Second Team All-ACC in his junior year.
During the preseason, Jackson would not fare well at all for Dallas, leading him to the practice squad very quickly. He would be signed by the Lions and played one game for two special team snaps and was inactive for the rest of the season. The Lions would trade Jackson to the Patriots for the beginning of the 2020 preseason; he would make the practice squad.
Jackson would sign to the active roster and record one tackle in the season finale. Jackson would play out the 2021 preseason with the Patriots, but was waived in the end. Jackson would sign with the Seahawks’ practice squad and play two games (2 tackles). He signed a future reserved contract.
What now? I’d say Dallas busted here. Jackson didn’t play well enough to make the roster and has barely made teams playing special teams. As well for who was on the board for cornerbacks, not really any enough to say Jackson wasn’t worth it
Only a few cornerbacks are actually playing like Nik Needham, who went undrafted, playing a role as the Dolphins’ nickel back. So cornerbacks were rather sparse, so in this case Dallas should’ve went a different direction with this pick.
Jake Bailey could’ve been Dallas’s punter. Cole Holcomb could’ve been what LVE is now. To say the least, Dallas made a wrong call here.
5th Round, 165: Joe Jackson, Miami
Dallas must really like the Jacksons. In 2018, Edge was a mess for Dallas. Yes DeMarcus Lawrence did make it a Pro Bowl, but Dorance Armstrong didn’t do much his rookie year, Taco Charlton has solidified his bust status by this point, and Tyrone Crawford or Randy Gregory might not make a whole season without a injury or being suspended.
So Dallas wanted to be safe and sorry selecting Joe here. Joe played three seasons with Miami, always leading in one stat over his entire team, leading in sacks twice with the Hurricanes. Jackson would do fine enough to do actually make the roster, but with a catch. Dallas would also sign Robert Quinn, but he was suspended for the first couple games.
So Joe would be in 5 games, but was inactive from there, mostly because of Quinn reinstated and was being successful. In 2020 was a facelift for the Dallas defense, Rod Marinelli was gone and so was everyone on the defensive staff.
With new Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, Dallas would sign various defensive edge players like Aldon Smith and Everson Griffen and the removal of the preseason due to the COVID pandemic; Jackson was waived before the season started.
He would sign with the Browns and play 3 games before being inactive for the rest of the season; Jackson made 5 tackles and recovered a fumble from Joe Burrow. Jackson was a declared backup by 2021, playing 12 games, recording 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Jackson would sign to the Chiefs practice squad in January 2022, when they were still in the playoffs. After the SB, Jackson would spend the offseason with the Panthers before being waived before practice camp could start.
What now? I’d say Dallas has a disappointing pick here. Jackson obviously had the potential to make up his status, but like so many others the pandemic made it harder for him to prove himself, as well as the defensive scheme change within the coaching staff. Since then he’s made journeyman edge player that can play for any team.
Jackson was a bust for Dallas but not because of his gameplay, but because of the circumstances he was in. Hey, at least you recovered a fumble from Joe Burrow. Not a lot of people could say they have.
6th Round, 213: Donovan Wilson, Texas A&M
So Dallas teased the fanbase of the possibility of drafting Juan Thornhill back in the second round, but was a reason a safety was a solid need for Dallas. Jeff Heath was aging, Xavier Woods and Kavon Frazier were solid but haven’t taken the next step, so Dallas needed that in the draft.
So instead of a Thornhill or Rapp, Dallas went into the 6th round to pick up Wilson. Donovan played four seasons at Texas A&M, playing nickel back but also suffered a season-ending ankle injury in 2017. Unlike most of the guys here, he was the best performing player in the preseason other than Pollard, gathering 3 interceptions, but had an ankle injury that cut his debut until week 3; Wilson would be a special teamer and only record 3 tackles.
2020 would be Wilson’s most productive year. Wilson would start 10 games, having only 70 tackles, 3 forced fumbles along with 2 picks. But even this has some dirt, as the Dallas defense in 2020 was the worst in 2020, so Wilson having these numbers is like a cherry on top of a trash sundae.
2021 was suppose to be the year Wilson solidify his role as a starter, but he took a step back in the worst way. Wilson went from starting 10 games to 3 (missed 4 because of injury), over 70 tackles to barely 29, and no turnovers has he was behind Malik Hooker, Jayron Kearse and Damontae Kazee.
What now? I’d say Dallas can move on from Wilson, but it’s really on Wilson to recover from unimpressive 2021 season. Currently he’s behind Hooker and Kearse, but the fact he already has to gain back what he’s shown to Dallas, maybe it’s not a bad idea after this season to let Wilson try to breakout somewhere else.
7th Round, 218: Mike Weber, Ohio State
It’s the 7th round, so Dallas must’ve no other players for when it came to needs, considering they already have Ezekiel Elliott and drafted Tony Pollard, but yet here we are.
Weber spent 3 seasons with Ohio State, starting his freshman year picking up where Zeke left off in Ohio, Achieving Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Second-Team All Big Ten in 2016. Though after an hamstring injury in summer practices, J.K. Dobbins would force Weber to take a decrease production in 2017 and yonder.
Bad luck would continue for Mike Weber, as with the breakout of Tony Pollard, Weber would only go over a net of 15 yards once in the preseason. Weber would demote to the practice squad, and Dallas let his contract expire after their season ended. Weber would then sign to the Chiefs practice squad, where they would win Super Bowl LIV, so technically he’s a super bowl winner (I don’t say he is personally). He resigned with the Chiefs shortly after, but was waived after the Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Weber would spend the 2020 season on the Packers practice squad, and sign with the Giants in the 2021 preseason, but suffered a hip plexor before the preseason could start; he was released a week later.
A new start would materialize as Weber would be drafted be the New Jersey Generals of the USFL in February 2022. but Weber’s bad luck continues as he would suffer a knee injury before the season started, and was released mid-April.
What now? I’d say what a sad career for Weber. If it wasn’t for a hamstring injury, he would’ve still been RB1 for Ohio State. If it wasn’t for Pollard blowing up in preseason, Weber would’ve been able to gain more production. If it wasn’t for a hip flexor injury, Weber could’ve played for the Giants in 2021. If it wasn’t for a knee injury, he could’ve been with Darius Victor and the North Champs NJ Generals. Oh yeah, obviously Dallas made a bad pick.
7th Round, 241: Jalen Jelks, Oregon
As aforementioned, defensive edge was a concern in Dallas so a 7th round edge wouldn’t hurt for Dallas to pick up, thus drafting Jalen Jelks.
Jelks spend four seasons in Oregon, but wouldn’t be a starter until his junior season where he would lead his team with sacks and tackles for loss making the Second-Team All-Pac-12 in 2017; though he would have less flashy stats in his senior year, he still earned 1st Team All-Pac-12.
Though he was impressing in the preseason, his rookie season would be cut short after being placed on Injury Reserve. Jelks would be impacted in 2020, with the defensive change along with the pandemic just like his former teammate Joe Jackson, and was cut in August.
Jelks would travel throughout the 2020 season, the Panthers, the Browns but eventually stopped was on the Washington Football Team, where he would sign a future reserve contract for the 2021 season, but was waived with an injury settlement in July.
What now? I’d say that injuries and the pandemic really slowed the progress for Jelks. I can only pity him for not really getting a fair break in the NFL. In the other hand… Jalen Jelks there is the USFL and XFL coming up, maybe revive your career there? and yeah, shocker, another bust for Dallas.
Out of 8 drafted players, only one has made it clear to extend their contract and that is Tony Pollard. McGovern and Wilson you can move on from if necessary, and Trysten Hill just needs to go. The rest didn’t even make it to the 2020 season with Dallas; and out of the four, Joe Jackson has to be most productive player there and Mike Jackson Sr still on a NFL team at least. Weber and Jelks can’t stay healthy and are both free agents right now.
This draft class has to be one of the worst classes for Dallas in recent time if half of the class are backups to free agents already and the only half could have a couple more seasons as backups.
At least the 2020 draft class is looking to be a improvement so far. CeeDee Lamb is our WR1 (still don’t want to talk about it). Tre’Von Diggs had a breakout season. Neville Gallimore is starter in the defensive tackle core. Tyler Biadsz has been the starting center. Ben DiNucci is still here too.
It’s all trial and error for all these teams every year, and it is made pretty clear that Dallas chose the wrong deck of cards to play with for the 2019 season.