Here’s how undrafted free agent, Mitch Hyatt, makes the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster as a top developmental prospect on the offensive line.
To the surprise of many, the Dallas Cowboys won a post-draft bidding war for offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt. Hyatt, one of the most accomplished college offensive tackles in the country, boasts an impressive resume for someone who went undrafted:
Hyatt was third-team All-American as a freshmen starter, second-team All-Conference as a sophomore starter, a second-team All-American in 2017. First-team All-ACC AND first-team All-American in 2018. Hyatt also won the national championship and claimed the Jacobs Blocking trophy in ’17 and ’18. It should be no wonder why he was one of the most coveted undrafted free agents this year.
But two things are hard to figure out concerning his union between Hyatt and the Dallas Cowboys:
- Why did he pick Dallas (an O-line that’s known to be loaded in top-end talent as well as depth)?
- Why did Dallas so aggressively pursue someone, who given the depth on the team, faces an uphill battle to even claim a roster spot?
Why Hyatt picked Dallas
This answer is easy. Some will say it’s the culture and mystic of the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line that draws talent. Others will say it’s the team’s track record of success with UDFA (La’el Collins and Ronald Leary being two recent undrafted free agents who have carved out successful careers).
And while those suggestions aren’t entirely wrong, they probably weren’t the driving force. That main honor likely belongs to the money.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t just win Mitch Hyatt over with words, but they used cold hard cash. According to ESPN the Cowboys not only gave him $20k up front, but they also guaranteed him $130,000 of his $495,000 deal. This impressive offer dwarfed others and essentially guaranteed Hyatt more money than most sixth and seventh round draft picks.
Why did Dallas pursue him so aggressively?
As discussed shortly after the draft, the unit the Dallas Cowboys improved the most this offseason is the offensive line. Not only did Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick improve in health, but second year player Connor Williams added significant strength to his game.
Together with the underrated re-signing of Cameron Fleming and the drafting of Connor McGovern, Dallas have one of the deepest lines in the NFL. It’s so deep, Hyatt first appears to be a long-shot to even make the team.
What Mitch Hyatt must prove
With Cameron Fleming entrenched as the swing tackle (at a very modest salary, I might add), the need to be a reliable and versatile tackle isn’t immediate. Where he must prove himself now is his ability to help inside at guard.
It’s the inside/outside position flex that will allow the Cowboys to keep Fleming on the roster. That’s because his retention will inevitably come at the expense of someone else, and that someone else will be an inside guy not named Martin, Williams, Looney, or McGovern.
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As such, Mitch Hyatt’s primary competition for a roster spot will probably be Xavier Su’a-Filo. As crazy as it sounds, that’s the only way this will work out for Hyatt. Just looking at the pecking order, XSF is no better than the fifth interior linemen on the roster. He was a fringe roster player before Hyatt even signed.
Mitch Hyatt doesn’t need to be a better guard than XSF, he just needs to be able to be competent. The Dallas Cowboys want to make this work with Hyatt because he projects as a swing tackle in the not-too-distant future and maybe even more.
The Dallas Cowboys obviously see Mitch Hyatt as someone who has the ability to claim a roster spot or they wouldn’t have given him all that money. But looking at the depth of the roster, it’s clear Hyatt’s going to have to do more than just be a developmental prospect at tackle to win a roster spot, he’ll need to prove some competence inside as well.
Mitch Hyatt is going to get somebody cut on the Dallas Cowboys. There’s a reason he’s in Dallas.
- Published on 05/20/2019 at 12:00 PM
- Last updated at 05/20/2019 at 10:50 AM