This Cowboys pass-catcher's fast rise could make him Dallas' next big thing

As momentum builds, the outlook for the 2023 season continues to brighten due to the young core of stars soaring above the competition.
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages
2 of 2

Who is Cowboys' TE Jake Ferguson?

Jake Ferguson, a fourth-round draft pick out of the University of Wisconsin, was selected by the Cowboys as the #129 overall in the 2022 NFL draft. An interesting fact about Ferguson is his consistent performance at Wisconsin. As a Badger, he not only built a reputation as a reliable run-blocker, but he also demonstrated consistency in the passing game, catching at least one pass in each of the 47 games he appeared – a record he still holds.

According to AP News, playing for the Badgers seemed to be something written in the stars when it came to Ferguson's college career. His older brother, Joe Ferguson, played safety for Wisconsin from 2013 to 2017. Furthermore, his grandfather, Barry Alvarez, has been a longtime member of the Badger family, serving as head coach and athletic director for three decades before officially retiring in 2021.   

In his rookie season as a Cowboy, Ferguson performed well, despite landing on a team featuring standout tight end Dalton Schultz, who left as a free agent after the 2022 season to join the Houston Texans. In 2022, Ferguson managed 19 catches for 174 yards and notched two touchdowns in the 16 games he appeared. Flashing forward to 2023, Ferguson has blossomed into a fiery competitor, one whose confidence is growing before our eyes. He plays with an energy not seen since the days of the Playmaker, Michael Irvin. That is elite company, especially at such an early stage in his career.

He plays with reckless abandon, thrusting his body into situations where he fights for the extra yard, evident in his play in back-to-back weeks – first, against the Seattle Seahawks in week 13, and again against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 14. He caught critical passes at crucial times, took big hits, yet jumped up and wanted more. His competitiveness led to a chest thumping confrontation with Seahawks defensive back, Jamal Adams late in the game. However, it was Ferguson who had the last laugh when he caught what would be the game-winning 12-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter.

In the heavily anticipated rematch against the Eagles, Ferguson even ‘took to air’ hurdling over defensive back, Keelee Ringo, on a pivotal second-down conversion in the fourth quarter, while the game was within two scores. Post game, Ferguson, nailed the concept of teamwork. When asked about their week of preparation, he said, “We talked about it all week, setting the tone early, playing our game of football, playing Cowboy football, complimentary football. Everybody helping out everybody, playing for the man next to you.”

His spirit is contagious to all, and the spark he brings has CLEARLY RESONATED with his teammates, particularly Dak Prescott. Their growing bond continues to illustrate the importance of having a reliable tight end who can create mismatches, provide checkdown ability and serve as an instant red zone threat. To date, through week 14, Ferguson has amassed 51 receptions for 570 yards and five touchdowns.

As the team enters the final stretch of the regular season, with three of four games on the road, including potential cold-weather games in Buffalo and Washington D.C., as well as a game in Miami, the tight end position will continue to be a focal point for Dak Prescott and the offense during pivotal moments.

Notably, players like Jason Witten have been iconic figures who contributed to the past successes of the franchise. Witten, renowned for his consistency and durability, retired in 2018. Despite Witten’s retirement, and his passing of the baton to others, including Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, the Cowboys have continued to emphasize the tight end position. This is where Jake Ferguson enters the picture. In the state of Texas, where everything is ‘BIGGER,’ Jake Ferguson may just be the NEXT BIG THING…

More Cowboys news and analysis: