There’s that old saying that you need to wait three years before you really know how good, or bad, a draft class will be. That seems like good advice for the Cowboys as one their 2019 draft picks is trying to turn the corner and re-write the “bust” predictions.
When the Cowboys took Trysten Hill in the second round of the 2019 draft, it was met with some resistance. Hill had ability and raw talent, but he also had some issues in college and he was a project, not a finished product. It wasn’t as if you couldn’t project his athletic gifts into a solid NFL player, it just seemed like there was some risk that he would ever get there.
Then came the 2019 season and Hill flopped. Badly. On the field, he wasn’t even active for over half the games, racking up a mere 121 plays, or 11.2% of the defensive snaps on the season. Off the field, he was missing meetings and falling asleep in the ones he did make. Nothing looked good for Hill after 2019.
But with a new coaching staff and a clean slate, Hill has made a remarkable turnaround. Heading into training camp he was being talked about as a possible roster cut. With the signing of Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, and the drafting of Neville Gallimore, the defensive tackle position had new starters and better depth. With the versatile Tyrone Crawford available, and the team re-signing of Antwaun Woods, Hill was in for a fight.
It appears that Hill was up to the task. Stephen Jones has said that Hill will be a starter according to Jon Machota.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on @SiriusXMNFL said Trysten Hill is going to be one of Dallas' starting defensive tackles. "He has stepped up and never missed a lick. He's done a great job every day. He's been a true professional. I think he's really gonna pay off for us this year."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 5, 2020
Nothing illustrates the difference between Hill’s attitude last year and this year than the line from Jones that Hill has been a true professional. That would have been one of the last things anything said about Hill prior to this training camp. The change in coaching staff, and specifically, Jim Tomsula, seems to have been the key to unlocking Hill’s drive and motivation to go along with impressive physical gifts.
Obviously the injury to Gerald McCoy is the reason Hill has the chance to be a starter. Still, he had to take the opportunity and run with it.
Labels of being a bust may have been premature. Now we’ll see if Hill can keep it going when things become a bit more intense. Maybe the 2019 draft class won’t turn out to be so bad after all.