5 Dallas Cowboys who will make or break the 2023 season

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3. Jake Ferguson, TE

There was a lot of concern about the Cowboys tight end corps when Jason Witten left for the second time following the 2019 season. Mike McCarthy, however, believed they had the answer in-house as they were banking on Blake Jarwin.

A former undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma State, Jarwin signed a three-year extension before the season but suffered an ACL tear on his first reception. He was then replaced by Dalton Schultz, who never looked back.

In 2020, Schultz had a breakout campaign with 63 receptions for 615 yards and four touchdowns. He played last year on the franchise tag and then signed with the Houston Texans after recording 198 catches for 2,000 yards, and 17 touchdowns over the past three years.

Dallas will try and replace him with a committee that includes rookie Luke Schoonmaker and 2022 undrafted free agent Peyton Hendershot. But the one who will be expected to start in Week 1 and perform is likely Jake Ferguson.

Another second-year player, Ferguson was taken in the fourth round out of Wisconsin and had a modest rookie campaign. He caught 19-of-22 passes thrown his way for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Despite the low numbers, he was highly effective as a receiver, finishing with a 75.2 grade from PFF — who ranked him the 24th-best tight end in the league.

This year, he's going to need to do more not only as a receiver but he's going to be asked to improve as a blocker as well. Ferguson was brought in with the expectation that he would have to replace Schultz and now is the time to prove the team made the right call.