The Dallas Cowboys conducted a thorough check on defensive tackle Trysten Hill before selecting him in the second round (58th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Hill’s dedication to football was called into question at Central Florida.
Still, the Cowboys felt good enough to bring him aboard after talking to his college coaches and requiring Hill to sign a work ethic contract with Cowboys defensive coordinate Rod Marinelli.
As for the work ethic contract, turns out it had nothing to do with Hill’s time in college. Instead, the informal procedure, which details expectations, is more for internal use among the Cowboys’ defensive linemen.
“I do this with every guy from a free agent to a draft pick, just my own copy of it, back and forth, front and back,” Marinelli said, via Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram . “It talks about how we play, what I ask of you in practice, day of games, all of it. I am very clear of it.
“I said to him, ‘If it doesn’t fit you, tell me now, because you will not be happy here. I told him to keep it, and he said, ‘Coach I feel great about this.’ It’s just about how you play. It’s a lot of different things, but how you carry yourself, how you play in our system. The effort and the want to, every snap. We’re unique that way — how hard we practice and play. I usually see that on film early with guys. He really plays hard. If you watch his tape, he really hustles. That’s the passion we want in these guys.”
Barring any specific legal language built into Hill’s actual rookie contract, which he hasn’t signed yet, the informal agreement between the second-round pick and Marinelli won’t hold weight in a court of law.
But it’s a unique honor-bound and motivational approach between two men, and Marinelli and Hill established a bond during the pre-draft process and stayed in touch leading to the draft.
“I can’t put into words how important our relationship is with each other,” Hill said, via the Star-Telegram. “He wants the best out of me and I want to give him everything I’ve got. Him really taking hold of me this whole process, and me being able to call him and chat with him and hear his voice was huge in this whole ordeal.”
Now, it’s up to Hill to stay true to his word to put in a full effort on the football with his new team.
FRISCO — What seemed like an interminable wait came to an end a little after eight o’clock Friday evening when the Cowboys jumped into the proceedings.
Three safeties the team invited to the Star before the draft and contemplated selecting in the second round were still available at No. 58 when Dallas went on the clock. Club officials didn’t blink.
They took defensive tackle Trysten Hill from Central Florida.
The decision underscores yet again what the Cowboys value on defense. Someone to pressure the quarterback, either on the edge or inside at the three-technique that Hill will play, takes precedence over a safety.
The Cowboys came back in the third and showed what they value on offense by taking Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern. Given the team’s strength at the position, it’s something of a curious pick. McGovern is an interior lineman, playing all three spots, but should be viewed as depth in his first season.
Why take him? Two defensive backs that held an interest for the Cowboys, safety Will Harris and cornerback Justin Layne, went a few spots before Dallas was on the clock at No. 90.
“He’s just a really good football player,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He was the best player, by far, at the time on our board.”
The same goes for Hill.
This defense hasn’t had a truly productive player at the three-technique since Jason Hatcher recorded 11 sacks in Rod Marinelli’s first season with the Cowboys defense. Hill became close with Marinelli during this process, calling the defensive coordinator out of the blue a week ago just to check in.
“This is a dream come true,” Hill said on a conference call with local reporters shortly after his selection. “This is everything I ever wanted, to play for coach Marinelli and play for this organization and have that star on my helmet.
“Rod wants the best for me and I want to lay it all on the line for him and this organization.”
Washington’s Taylor Rapp, Virginia’s Juan Thornhill and Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, three players who paid pre-draft visits to The Star, were still on the board at No. 58. So was Delaware’s Nasir Adderley.
Three of those players went within the five picks after the Cowboys’ selection.
“Well, I think disrupting the passer helps makes safeties play better, makes it easier for them to do their thing,” owner Jerry Jones said of the clear positional preference. “When you can get rush and disruption, which is what we think his game is, I think that is where it starts.
“We liked him as a player better than the alternative and he happens to fit us better. We’ve discussed this for several days.”
Will Hill step in and start as a rookie? That’s unlikely. Maliek Collins is the starter. The club also added Kerry Hyder in free agency.
But Collins is a free agent at the end of this upcoming season and while he’s been solid, he’s hasn’t provided the consistent push that Marinelli craves from that spot.
“He’s sure going to compete to start,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “He has the skill set.
“You know how Rod rotates the defensive linemen. If you’re in the top seven, in my mind, you’re a starter. He’s got all the skills to do that.”
Hill echoed that assessment.
“Being in that three-technique next to (DeMarcus) Lawrence and next to those guys, I think I’m able to get off the ball and get in the backfield and disrupt and contribute early and contribute a lot,” Hill said.
“I think I’m a dominant, tenacious player that wants every bit of the competition. That’s how I was raised. That’s what I’m going to do day in and day out.
“I’m excited to get to work.”
This marked the fifth time in the last six years that Dallas has used its second round pick on defense.
McGovern, meanwhile, is the sixth offensive lineman the Cowboys have taken in the first three rounds since Garrett presided over his first draft as head coach. Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin were all taken in the first round. Connor Williams was taken in the second last year and Chaz Green, who is no longer with the team, was a third round pick.
McGovern said the Cowboys had no real contact with him until they called Friday evening to inform him he was their pick.
“He’s smart, tough, and loves to play the right way,” Garrett said. “More than anything else, there is the blinking light. He was a highly graded player with all of the intangibles.
“We just said let’s take this guy.”