Dallas Cowboys best case scenarios: Tight end
The Dallas Cowboys have unknown commodities at their tight end position. What is the best case scenario for their performance in 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys are in the dead spot of their offseason. And as this pre-training camp lag continues, article topics with sustenance become harder and harder to find.
A good way to map out a few weeks worth of topics is by starting a series, as many of my fellow contributors have done. Here’s my attempt.
Over the next few weeks, I will be going position group by position group and jotting down quick opinions about the guys in play to contribute as well as what I believe the realistic best case scenario is for that group. This week, the tight ends.
Geoff Swaim is the presumptive tight end one after being the only one on the roster with meaningful experience after Jason Witten‘s departure. Though Swaim has proven to be a solid, if not average, tight end with good blocking ability and decent receiving skills; I believe he has or is very close to reaching his ceiling.
I believe Swaim is the security blanket for the younger tight ends. If Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, and even Rico Gathers show that they can be trusted, their higher ceiling will push the coaching staff to give them more opportunities. In this best-case scenario, Swaim is either an inactive fourth stringer or not on the roster.
Jarwin seems locked into the tight end two role already. As the ‘move’ tight end in the offense, Jarwin will use his athleticism and receiving ability to threaten defenses vertically. The front office is already in love with him and if his strengths translate to Sundays I believe he will be a very effective tight end two.
Schultz is a rookie fourth-rounder who comes from a school with a tremendous tight end pedigree and a pro-style system. When drafted, Schultz was described as being a good inline tight end with experience in a similar blocking scheme as the Cowboys use. His 55 receptions for 555 yards and 5 touchdowns might not have been amazing, but he did show potential as a pass catcher despite not being featured much in the offense.
I believe that by the end of training camp, Schultz will prove to be the best blocker of all the group. Because of that and his potential as a pass-catcher being higher than Swaim’s, he becomes the number one tight end. Keep in mind, this distinction as with the number one receiver, is not the same as before by design.
Gathers is the biggest gamble of the four. I have a better chance of being right about the three other tight ends combined than I do just being right about Rico. But in this best-case scenario, I’m hoping a new willingness to be an effective blocker and a rumored position tweak make all the difference.
We all know Rico’s strengths.
He is big, fast, and strong, to put it simply. What he isn’t is a refined football player. But Gathers hopes that his weight gain can help him be a more impactful blocker while rumblings about moving Gathers to H-back could maximize his potential. If Gathers is indeed deployed as an H-back, his blocking assignments would be simpler and he would be out in space more where he is most comfortable. This coupled with playing him in the red zone and using him to threaten the deep middle could allow Gathers to make a significant impact.
To summarize; Dalton Schultz proving himself as the best blocker (which is all that is needed to be tight end one), Jarwin solidifying his tight end two position, and Rico improving as a blocker and playing more in a hybrid role. With Schultz being an effective blocker and reliable receiver in the short and intermediate range, the team has a guy that they can feel comfortable in and grow with.
With Jarwin proving the front office right, the team has an uber-athletic move tight end that will be a favorite target of quarterback Dak Prescott‘s. Jarwin will be able to work the seams and intermediate zones and will have to be accounted for by opposing defensive coordinators.
In this best-case scenario, the coaches realize Gathers natural strengths are too much to pass up on, and decide to provide him with certain packages that maximized those talents. As a guy the team moves all over the formation, Gathers becomes one of Dallas’s X-factors and is a threat whenever he’s on the field. He will be a staple of the teams passing downs and red zone packages.
The team’s three-headed monster of the reliable Schultz, talented Jarwin, and dynamic Gathers will leave Swaim as the odd man out. The team is very deep and might need to shed him in order to keep an extra guy in another position group.
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But even if it happens before the start of the regular season or late in December, I believe the teams best case scenario has Swaim falling out of the rotation. I wouldn’t mind him as an inactive there in case of injury, neither would I mind his trade or release.
If this best-case scenario somehow comes true, expect the Dallas Cowboys to be a top-three offense in 2018.