Dallas Cowboys

Grading the Dallas Cowboys’ draft — and giving them the benefit of the doubt

After months of analyzing the safety position in the free agency and the pre-draft process with the hopes of finally investing in a long-forgotten position, the Dallas Cowboys stayed true to their colors.

They added a cheap free agent safety in George Iloka, and when they finally had an opportunity to address the position at the top the 2019 NFL draft, they passed — again.

What’s the definition of insanity: repeating the same thing and expecting a different result.

The Cowboys will tell you they like the safeties on the roster better than people on the outside do. But their actions for the last few months tell a different story.

Still, the facts remain that the Cowboys don’t value position. That’s fine. It is what it is.

And that certainly doesn’t mean they were wrong in doing what they did in the draft, when they prioritized Central Florida defensive tackle Trysten Hill in the second round over Virginia safety Juan Thornhill to open a draft that started without a No. 1 pick and ended with a haul seven picks that were ultimately true to their draft and football philosophy.

So in that respect, you have to give the Cowboys the benefit of the doubt because they have proven over the past few years under scouting directer Will McClay that they know what they are doing in the player selection process.

What can’t be overlooked as the gem of the draft came midway through last season in the form of receiver Amari Cooper. The Cowboys traded a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders midway though last season, knowing that the draft was not only light on difference-making receivers but light on players who would have the potential immediate or long-term impact of Cooper.

That was proven to be true and gave the Cowboys a win before the draft ever started.

Grading the Cowboys’ draft: B

Here is a breakdown of each pick:

Round 2, No. 58 overall: Trysten Hill, DT, UCF

Hill has the size and quickness to be a game-wrecking disruptor in the middle. Consider him a David Irving prototype who cares. He has the potential to be a beast.

Round 3, No. 90 overall: Connor McGovern, G, Penn State

The Cowboys didn’t go into the draft looking to take a guard. But McGovern was the best player on the board. He can play guard and center, and immediately upgrades the depth and future of the line.

Round 4, No. 128 overall: Tony Pollard, RB, Memphis

Pollard is a change-of-pace back to complement Ezekiel Elliott. He scored 25 touchdowns in college as a runner, receiver and returner. The Cowboys plan to get the ball in his hands.

Round 5, No. 158 overall: Michael Jackson, CB, Miami

Jackson fits the corner mold of DB coach Kris Richard. He has already drawn comparisons in build to Richard Sherman, a former fifth-round pick by Seattle who developed into a Pro Bowler.

Round 5, No. 165 overall: Joe Jackson, DE, Miami

Jackson has the body for a strong side end. He increases the much-improved depth along the defensive line. He will compete with Dorance Armstrong and Taco Charlton behind DeMarcus Lawrence.

Round 6, No. 213 overall: Donovan Wilson, S, Texas A&M

The Cowboys finally went for a safety late, as usual. Wilson is not a guy you want back in coverage. But he is a hitter and will play aggressively. He should make an immediate impact on special teams.

Round 7, No. 218 overall: Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State

Weber is the prototypical backup for Elliott. He is a fast and physical runner, though he is not flashy. He will get the yards that are there. He can also make plays in the passing game.

Round 7, No. 241 overall: Jalen Jelks, DE, Oregon

The Cowboys went with Jelks late because of his length (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) and his potential to develop. He will be hard pressed to make a roster that is deep on the defensive line, but he’s a practice squad candidate.

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