Another last-chance season for the Dallas Cowboys Trysten Hill

(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That saying is especially applicable with the Dallas Cowboys defensive interior, where they’ve annually undergone significant turnover, yet repeatedly situate former top draft pick, Trystan Hill, firmly on the roster bubble.

This season is certainly no different. Trysten Hill, a 6-foot-3 310lb defensive tackle from Central Florida, was the Dallas Cowboys second round pick in 2019. A pick which was considered highly risky at the time but was insisted upon by then defensive coordinator, Rod Marinelli.

The Cowboys DC was convinced Hill was misunderstood and he alone held the key to unlocking the maligned player’s potential. Basically, he was the Sam Williams of that 2019 draft.

Trysten Hill will once again be battling for a roster spot on the Dallas Cowboys this year.

To say Hill has underachieved as a pro is to put things lightly. In three seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, Hill has amassed just 27 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and two tackles for loss. This despite playing on a fairly pedestrian defensive interior with a fairly significant share of injuries and opportunities.

Trysten Hill’s job security was called into question already in Year 2. After doing next to nothing as a rookie and being generally uncoachable in the process, Hill lost his biggest advocate when Marinelli left (another reason you don’t let coaches make draft picks). But Hill flashed a little in that sophomore season and did just enough to hang on through the coaching change.

2021 saw yet another coaching change in Dallas. Out went Mike Nolan (cue the Hallelujah Chorus) and in came Dan Quinn. Old players went out and new players once again came in. Through it all, Hill did just enough to hang on, playing 161 snaps in six games last season.

2022 is Hill’s last year under contract. It’s make or break for the fringe roster lineman. Not just for his Dallas Cowboys career, but for his professional football career.

The Dallas Cowboys seem to have youngsters Osa Odighizuwa and Neville Gallimore penciled into the starting lineup. Both are young players, on rookie deals, with decent floors and undiscovered potential. Behind them it’s anyone’s guess.

Players like John Ridgeway, Carlos Watkins, and Quinton Bohanna figure to all be in the mix behind the starters. It’s possible Dallas will only two or three of those players so it’s clear Hill will have his work cut out for himself in training camp.

Working in Hill’s favor is his ability to rush the passer. While Ridgeway, Bohanna, and Watkins offer little in the way or penetration, Hill has the size and explosion to make a little noise in the backfield. That’s what first drew Rod Marinelli to Hill and that’s what prompts the Cowboys to keep him around each year since.

With all parties being healthy, it’s tough to see Hill making the cut this year. But there are two things working in Trysten Hill’s favor:

  1. The Cowboys are never healthy at DT
  2. Hill just turned 24 and hasn’t even scratched the surface of his potential

To the first point: Dallas is notoriously injury prone at the DT spot. It’s been four years since they’ve rolled out their top-2 DTs in week 1 because injuries seem to plague them every single training camp.

To the second point: DTs take time to develop. Hill was drafted at an extremely young age and was barely used at Central Florida. He came to Dallas raw and immature and has been a project in every sense of the word. The Cowboys love untapped potential (see also: nearly all of their 2022 draft picks) and will certainly give him a chance to compete in Oxnard this summer.

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Just another player to watch this summer in training camp. Trysten Hill has the raw ability to make the team this year, but will the application of said ability be enough to claim a roster spot? We shall see…