Dallas Cowboys 2019 draft: Aggie tight end a perfect fit
By Nathan Jones
The Dallas Cowboys have to fix the offense this offseason. Drafting this Aggie tight end who runs good routes, blocks, and has tremendous upside is a no-brainer.
Head coach Jason Garrett is on thin ice. The front office has made it clear that Garrett must win in 2019 or he is out for good. With an offensive-minded head coach, one would expect the Dallas Cowboys‘ offense to be good– at least average.
The offense has been sub-par the past couple of years. Some good moments. Some bad moments. Mostly “ehh” moments. It has been well documented that the addition of wide receiver Amari Cooper boosted the unit a little bit. Quarterback Dak Prescott, in particular, looked way better with Cooper in the lineup.
But the offense still needs a weapon to stretch the middle of the field. Tight ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz showed some flashes in the regular season. Yet, they failed to show any constancy in their catching or blocking games.
In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Cowboys should look into selecting the tight end from Texas A&M, Jace Sternberger. Last year, the 6-foot-4, 252 pound prospect recorded 48 receptions, 832 yards, and 10 touchdowns. He was both second in receiving yards, and first in touchdowns among all tight ends in division one football.
If that is impressive, 2018 was the only full season of Sternberger’s college career. Sternberger went from some no-name guy to one of the most feared receiving threats in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). He was rightly named to the first-team All-SEC team.
Now down to the details: What does Sternberger do well/poorly?
Blocking grade: B-
He has great experience run-blocking in a pro-style offense at Texas A&M. Though he was in the top in most receiving stats for tight ends, the Aggies were a run-first offense.
So naturally, he had to learn to block. Sternberger uses great hand-placement. When he reaches his target he relies more on technique than strength. He does great blocking down and head-up, but struggles when forced to reach the second level.
Receiving grade: A-
What separates Sternberger from other tight ends is his athleticism. His large frame is completely utilized. Sometimes you see a huge tight end not have great reach, but that is not the case for Sternberger.
The tight end has above average hands. He high points the ball well but is not great when the ball is near his lower abdomens (nothing heavy work on the jug machine can’t fix).
Sternberger also can burn past linebackers down the middle of the field. His routes are not great. Occasionally he is slow in and out of his breaks, and he will run into coverage instead of sitting down in the sweet spot of the zone. But his physical traits are a mismatch to linebackers and safeties.
On man to man coverage, he uses his body to get separation and present a clear target to the quarterback. But what makes him great is his run after the catch abilities. Once the ball is in his hands, Sternberger is a threat to take it 10+ yards every time.
Sternberger would fit in perfectly with what the Dallas Cowboys need in a tight end. Against favorable defensive fronts, the tight end will have success. On play-action passes, Sternberger can catch a shallow drag and turn upfield for a big gain. In the red zone, which is where the Cowboys’ offense struggle the most, Sternberger has the size and hands to become a touchdown machine.
Sternberger is predicted to fall anywhere from the bottom of the first round to the fourth round. His performance at the combine should clear things up.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys should draft Sternberger, sign a free agent, draft another tight end, or a combination? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below!