The Dallas Cowboys first selection of the 2019 NFL Draft was a peculiar one. Trysten Hill, a defensive tackle from UCF, started just one game last season for the Golden Knights. Without a pick in the first round, Dallas addressed defense in the second round and offense in the third. Taking Penn State offensive lineman Connor McGovern. A versatile player, having played all over the offensive line, able to contribute to a Cowboys offensive line that’s struggled with keeping their offensive lineman healthy as of late, but might not even start this year.
At pick number 58 overall in the draft, Dallas decided on Trysten Hill. The Cowboys had a chance here to take a safety as both Taylor Rapp and Juan Thornhill, who both made visits to The Star, were still available. Safety was a major need for the Cowboys going into this draft. Yet, Dallas went with the big aggressive force in the middle in Hill.
Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli described the relationship and bond between the two.
“I went down and worked him out, spent a lot of time together and it just clicked for me since the combine really. I just kind of felt what he’s about so it was good all the way through it. You develop the man first and then develop the player, it’s important for me to help him become the man he wants to be.” Marinelli said.
Despite only starting one game last season at UCF, Marinelli made sure to do his due diligence and inquire with ex-UCF head coach, now current Nebraska head coach, Scott Frost. Frost utilized Hill a lot more while coaching the Golden Knights than current head coach Josh Heupel did last season.
“He plays hard. Another thing is that although he didn’t start much he played in every game and got a lot of plays. Obviously, we got very comfortable with his situation there with that staff.” Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said.
The Cowboys added depth on the defensive line. With the up-tempo offense taking over the NFL, depth to rush the passer is imperative for success, big guys do need to take a breather every once in a while.
Dallas has recently built a reputation for having one of the best offensive lines in the game. Paving the road up front for running back Ezekiel Elliot to shine has garnered high praise across the league. Some of those run blockers include first-round picks, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith. As well as a projected first-rounder in the 2015 draft before dropping out, La’el Collins. With their third-round pick, the Cowboys added another big man to the offensive line.
Connor McGovern, an offensive lineman out of Penn State stood out to the Cowboys for his versatility. Although Stephen Jones said how it was not directly due to Frederick’s recent health issues pertaining to his neck and back, he did speak on his status with regards to the McGovern pick.
“We feel totally great where Travis is. We think he’s ready to go. Obviously, when you miss a caliber of player that Travis is it reminds you that you can’t have enough of those guys. You never know what’s going to happen, you’ve got five guys on an offensive line, you’re going to have some players miss games. Which we see every year, whether it’s Travis or Tyron or La’el.” Said Jones.
McGovern will be able to learn under the tutelage of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. He potentially could even crack the starting five up front this season. Not a bad gig for the big man out of Penn State who’s always dreamt about playing in the big leagues.
“It’s always been a dream of mine since I was five years old. Seeing that Dallas area code got my heart pounding. As an O-line unit at Penn State, we’d always watch film on the Cowboys O-line to see their chemistry and how they worked and we tried molding our game after that. Their consistency week to week, their chemistry and how it always seemed like they were on the same page communication-wise and how well they played together stood out. That always stood out to us the most. Once I got the phone call my heart kind of exploded.” Said McGovern.
A position group that always needs guys, will be able to add McGovern to the squad to help out however he can.
“I think I fit in very well. Center, guard, anywhere of the five, I think my versatility is going to help out a lot. I played guard my freshman year and then switched to center my sophomore year and then back to guard this year and played one game at center. I think that’s going to be able to help a lot. I don’t have a preference where I play on the O-line, I think the versatility aspect is going to help out a lot. I like at center the whole communication aspect, making sure everyone’s on the same team, but also have a lot of experience at guard so I feel comfortable playing either one.”
McGovern might have his chance to contribute if last year’s second-round draft pick guard Connor Williams isn’t able to recover from a knee injury sustained last season in a 28-14 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Williams was a little undersized last season for an interior lineman position. It showed when facing some of the more dominant power rushers, Williams wasn’t the same force. That being said, McGovern is not one that lacks size. McGovern outweighs Williams by 10 lbs and stands the same height. All this without having a year of NFL weight training and diet under his belt. McGovern should feel optimistic about his position to contribute year one in Dallas.
After having a massive growth spurt in high school where the big man gained 90 lbs. in just under two years, McGovern finally was able to start to see his dreams begin to become reality. Now he has developed into an NFL caliber lineman with size and strength to match. In his family’s bar in his hometown of Lopez, Pennsylvania his new reality started out being told he would be playing for America’s Team. Not a bad way to start a Friday night for a 21-year old.