With training camp quickly approaching the Dallas Cowboys are looking to head into the 2017 season the same way they finished the 2016 regular season. The Cowboys had plenty of offensive success last year in the passing game and in the running game. If there was one position that I felt was underwhelming or not keeping pace with the Rookie of The Year quarterback Dak Prescott or the NFL’s leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott it was the tight end position.
Jason Witten is a future Hall of Famer and still plays at a very high level week in and week out. By no means am I calling for Jason Witten’s head or even asking for someone to come in and compete for his job, but I don’t think an upgrade at the position is as ridiculous as it sounds.
Behind Witten is where that upgrade could come.
Geoff Swaim was quiet the surprise as a second year player last year, taking on a more expanded role in the offense and doing so pretty successfully. Swaim was a quality blocker in two tight end sets and provided some juice as a pass catcher as well. Swaim’s questions come in when we look at his injury history. He is currently rehabbing after getting surgery this offseason after suffering a injury while working out. Swaim’s training camp and maybe even the start of the season is in question. Could he come back and compete for that back up tight end job? Yes, but with a few others also out for blood, that could be easier said than done.
James Hanna is a serious question mark. Hanna had microscopic knee surgery last off season after suffering from a bone bruise during training camp. Hanna was put on the PUP list in training camp and was supposed to come back sometime around the season opener. In November, almost three months after his expected return, James Hanna was under the knife again for ANOTHER knee surgery, his second in three months. Weird right? James Hanna was never a dominant player, but was a very good run blocker. The Cowboys really like Swaim, and while there is a lot to like Hanna’s future in Dallas could be in question.
Rico Rico Rico… What’s not to love about the 6’8 280 lb tight end the Cowboys drafted in the 6th round of last years NFL Draft? Rico while very raw yet has all the physical traits you could ask for in a NFL tight end. Gather’s is a scary dude when lined up in front of him and good luck trying to tackle a man of his size. Multiple players and coaches have been really talking Gather’s up since the end of last year, claiming that the former Baylor basketball player has made huge strides mentally and physically on the football field. Could Gather’s be the next Julius Thomas or Antonio Gates? I’m not to sure but with one of the all time greats mentoring you Rico Gather’s is my top choice as the second tight end on the Cowboys’ roster.
Gary Barnidge has been a member of the Cleveland Browns for four years and spent time with the Carolina Panther’s previously before getting released by the Browns the day after the 2017 NFL Draft. Barnidge has scored 13 touchdowns for 1938 yards over the last four season with Cleveland. An impressive number when you look at the quarterbacks the Browns have had in that span. Barnidge is primarily a receiving option but is a decent blocker as well. While having plenty of success in the league he would likely be a cheap option to come in and compete for a roster spot with the guys listed above.
Another familiar name. Tamme had a bit of success for the Atlanta Falcons offense last year but dealt with a few different injuries that really slowed him down at the end of the season. Tamme is more of a run blocker than a receiver but hauled in three touchdowns last year as one of many tight ends the Falcons used on offense.
At just 23 years old Gerald Christian is a very intriguing player to me. At 6’3 245 lbs Christian isn’t the biggest guy in the world but his athletic ability makes up for it. Christian was a dual threat coming out of Louisville proving to be a consistent receiving option and a reliable blocker in the run game. He is only one year removed from College and really couldn’t get much going after getting drafted as Mr. Irrelevant in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.
The need for a second tight end isn’t necessarily a make or break situation but getting a guy in here that can be relied on as a blocker and could add some juice as a receiver down the field could take this offense to another level.
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