After receiving the franchise tag just a few days ago, running back Tony Pollard’s return to the Cowboys in 2023 is a virtual lock. But the same can’t be said for other members of Dallas’ 2019 draft class. Of the few who even made it this far, getting a second contract from the Cowboys is still very uncertain.
Pollard was Dallas’ fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was only the third player selected as the Cowboys had traded their 2019 first-rounder to the Raiders for wide receiver Amari Cooper a year earlier.
Here is the full Cowboys class of 2019:
- 2nd - DT Trysten Hill
- 3rd - OL Connor McGovern
- 4th - RB Tony Pollard
- 5th - CB Michael Jackson
- 5th - DE Joe Jackson
- 6th - S Donovan Wilson
- 7th - RB Mike Weber
- 7th - DE Jalen Jelks
Of that bunch, only McGovern, Pollard, and Wilson saw the end of their original rookie contracts and were still with the team last season. But while Pollard should be back next year on the tag, if not a new multi-year deal, McGovern and Wilson may not get another contract in Dallas.
Wilson had his best season yet in 2022 and enters free agency on a high. But with Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker already under contract as starting safeties, plus intriguing prospects like Israel Mukuamu and Marquese Bell below him on the depth chart, Wilson may now be a luxury that the Cowboys can’t afford.
McGovern has developed into a decent starting guard with valuable flexibility to play center as well, but he’s never stood out among his peers. With the recent news that Dallas is trying to keep OT Tyron Smith after already giving Terence Steele a $4.3 million RFA tender, that would suggest second-year stud Tyler Smith could be playing LG next season. That would seem to squeeze McGovern out, especially with Matt Farniok already here as a versatile backup on the interior line.
Even if they end up with new teams in 2023, at least McGovern and Wilson gave Dallas four solid years on their cheap rookie deals. If only we could say the same for the rest of their draftmates.
Defensive tackle Trysten Hill had a poor rookie season, with talk of effort issues and being in the coaches’ doghouse coming toward the end. He seemed like a new man in the 2020 but was injured in Week 5 and didn’t return. Hill fell behind future additions like Neville Gallimore and Osa Odighizuwa on the depth chart, barely making the team in 2022 and playing in a minimal rotation role before getting released last November.
Michael and Joe Jackson gave us some good jokes but almost nothing on the field. Michael didn’t even make the team as a rookie, then got poached off the practice squad by Detroit. He has since emerged in Seattle, starting in all 17 games for them last season.
None of the others have been so fortunate in their NFL journeys. Joe Jackson, Weber, and Jelks all bounced around with a few teams after being dumped by Dallas but never found a real home. None of them were on a roster or even a practice squad in 2022.
This is obviously a poor return on the Cowboys’ 2019 draft investments. And while not having a first-round pick among them lowers the ability for the class to shine, the fact that Amari Cooper isn’t still here either is its own brand of disappointing. Considering how short Cooper’s tenure in Dallas was, and especially getting little for him in last year’s trade with Cleveland, that 2019 first-rounder didn’t have a great outcome either.
Compare that class to what the Cowboys accomplished in 2016. Even now, Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Anthony Brown are still with the team. While Elliott and Brown’s tenures may be ending, Dallas still got seven seasons out of them. The 2018 class still boasted Leighton Vander Esch, Michael Gallup, Dorance Armstrong, and Dalton Schultz on last year’s roster even after their rookie deals had all ended.
While there’s still a chance that Connor McGovern or Donovan Wilson could be back in 2023, right now Tony Pollard is the only 2019 draft product with a contract. If Pollard remains the last man standing next season, it will only punctuate the 2019 draft as one of the Cowboys’ poorest efforts in their recent history.