Neither tight end James Hanna nor running back Joseph Randle is getting much press these days, or seems to be prominent in the Cowboys plans for the future, although until recently, both of these young players were considered locks to make the team and contribute on game days. The drafting of Gavin Escobar in the second round of last year's draft was questioned primarily because of Hanna's presence on the roster, a player with greater speed and a similar skill set, drafted in the sixth round a year earlier. However, this off season, all the talk has been about Escobar's dedication to the off season conditioning program, and we keep hearing hints that the Cowboys are considering adding a blocking tight end to the roster, which would presumably make Hanna expendable.
The team invested an even higher draft pick in Joseph Randle, a fifth rounder in 2013, but they have either lost confidence in his potential to be DeMarco Murray's primary backup, or they are trying to push him with the addition of free agent RB Ryan Williams who, after setting many records for his alma mater, Virginia Tech, including VT's single season rushing yards record, the ACC single season rushing touchdown record, and the ACC single season touchdown record with 22 touchdowns, actually went AHEAD of Murray in the second round (38th overall) to Arizona in the 2011 draft. Either way, Randle's roster spot does not appear to guaranteed if Williams can regain his form after suffering a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee, which cost him his rookie season. Following a coaching change, and a year in which he did not see the field, the Cardinals released Williams last May, and the Cowboys snatched him up five days later.
I won't even bother to list Hanna or Randle's miniscule stats from last year, but I will note that what few numbers they put up came in very limited opportunities. Hanna, in particular, was not used to his best advantage as a receiving threat, with the Cowboys instead deploying him as an inline blocker, which is quite literally, not his strength. Randle was singularly unimpressive when given the chance to fill in for the often injured Murray, which may have been attributed to the overall offensive inconsistency, but seems more likely to be have been because of his inability to fully grasp and execute the responsibilities of the position, including the nuances of pass protection.
There's a long way to go, with a full training camp and preseason to sort things out, but it may come down to a choice between these two players when the final cuts come, depending on the health of other players at their positions on the roster. If I had to make that choice, my preference would be to keep the tight end, Hanna, bearing in mind that Jason Witten is not going to be around forever, despite all appearances that he could play until he's fifty, but I wouldn't be so quick to count either one of these players out just yet. They should be two of the more interesting stories all throughout camp and the preseason, and you can bet I'll be keeping an eye on them all the way.