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Cowboys rookie report: How does the 2019 draft class grade out after eight weeks?

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Tony Pollard has shown splashes, but the rest?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are coming off their bye week and are looking to put their foot down on the NFC East division. The team nearly traded for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams prior to the bye week, but they decided against mortgaging the future for the former first-round selection.

The Cowboys did part ways with its first-rounder last season in the Amari Cooper deal, and every Cowboys fan would do that trade again 10 times out of 10. Coop instantly improved the offense and has been playing at an elite level since joining Dallas.

Still, it was hard to wait until the second round for the Cowboys to come on the clock. With that in mind, let’s take a look at where the Cowboys’ rookies stand heading into the second half of the 2019 season.

Tony Pollard

The one member of the 2019 NFL Draft class that is actually seeing the field — and being productive when given the opportunity — is Memphis product Tony Pollard. The fourth-round draft pick has given the Cowboys another weapon to utilize in the backfield as both a runner and as a receiver.

The problem is, though, that the Cowboys have not used Pollard as perhaps his production may suggest. After rushing for over 100 yards and reaching the end zone for the first time in his career against the Miami Dolphins, the Cowboys seemingly went away from their rookie back. Pollard was nowhere to be found during the Cowboys’ three-game losing streak, which was certainly frustrating considering his dynamic ability as both a runner and a receiver.

That changed when the Cowboys came back home for an essential must-have game versus the Eagles. In that game, the rookie touched the rock eight times. The box score doesn’t show the whole story though — Pollard was used to draw the defense on Tavon Austin’s touchdown, and his first down carry later in the game was very impressive:

GRADE: B

Trysten Hill

The Cowboys entered the draft with two glaring needs on its roster: interior defensive line and safety. Without a first-round pick, the Cowboys were not able to get an elite defensive tackle or safety prospect, but there were some quality options on the board when Dallas came on to the clock: Juan Thornhill, Taylor Rapp, Nasir Adderley, Dre’Mont Jones, and Khalen Saunders.

Instead, the Cowboys opted to take Trysten Hill out of UCF with the 58th overall selection of the 2019 Draft. Hill had concerns centering around his work ethic and motor, in addition to starting just one game for the Golden Knights in his final collegiate season.

Dallas liked the upside that they believed Hill has, but it has not worked out thus far. The rookie has struggled to get on the field. and he has not made the impact you would expect a second-round pick to make. Hill’s inability to be productive through eight games is partially why Dallas made a move for Michael Bennett.

If things were not bad enough, the rookie was late for a meeting on Thursday, forcing Jason Garrett to send him (and Antwaun Woods) home.

When considering the value that the Cowboys took Hill with, the other options (especially at safety) on the board, and Hill’s lack of production, it is hard to give this rookie anything higher than an F.

GRADE: F

Joe Jackson

While Hill was a healthy scratch early this season, Jackson was able to make the 46-man roster to begin his NFL career, joining only Pollard for the first few weeks.

The Miami rookie has not made much of an impact so far this season, fighting for snaps on Rod Marinelli’s defensive line. Jackson has been inactive for two of the last three games, though he did suit up against Philly and played very well in the action that he did see, making one tackle in the contest.

Thus far, Jackson’s biggest highlight of his young career was getting a shout out from owner Jerry Jones during the preseason. For a day three pick, Jackson gets a C.

GRADE: C

Donovan Wilson

The Cowboys need somebody to step up at the safety position — which is why they inquired about Jamal Adams in a potential blockbuster deal. While Donovan Wilson is no Jamal Adams, he did show some promise for the Cowboys during the preseason.

The Texas A&M product has been active for four games this season, but the sixth-round selection has yet to record a statistic. It’s hard to really judge Wilson one way or another — on one hand, he did make the roster, but on the other, he hasn’t made much of any tangible impact — so we will go with a C.

GRADE: C

Others of note:

  • Connor McGovern was selected in the third-round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but the Dallas Cowboys opted to shut the Penn State product down for the season due to pectoral injury that occurred in the spring.
  • Michael Jackson was drafted by the Cowboys in the fifth-round, but Jackson failed to make the roster. He was on the practice squad until the Detroit Lions signed the Miami product to its 53-man squad on Wednesday.
  • Seventh-rounders Jalen Jelks (DE, Oregon Ducks) and Mike Weber (RB, Ohio State Buckeyes) have spent the season on injured reserve and the practice squad, respectively.