With their final pick of the 2016 draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Rico Gathers, tight end, Baylor University. Dallas has a history of using draft picks on athletes from other sports like Hall of Famers Bob Hayes and Rayfield Wright, and Cornell Green, and...Carl Lewis?!. Perhaps we should not forget that Dallas were among the first to experiment with the "soccer-style" kicker when they brought Tony Fritsch in from Austria. Certainly everyone in the last decade has heard over and over about how Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham are converted basketball players.
Gathers has excellent athleticism for the position and outstanding size for his athleticism. He measures in at 11% body fat -- a ridiculous number for a person of his size. He has been working with former NFL players Matt Flynn and Ryan Clark to develop an NFL skill set because he has not played football since junior high school. His numbers are top ten of the tight ends at the combine, but he is on average 2-3 inches taller and 30 pounds heavier.
When attempting to convert from another sport, you get a feast or famine situation. Most players cannot adapt. Football is a violent, physical game that tests the limits of its participants in every fashion. But the rare one that does, seems to be able to bring a skill set that creates matchup nightmares for the rest of the league, and the success of Gates and Graham have been well documented.
But those players had at least a little transition time in medium level competition against mostly grown players. Gathers last played when he was 13. We don't have any scouting profile information because he has not played a down of football in nine years, and his game tape from that era is not likely to be useful anyhow. A pure project and pure prospect, Gathers is modeling clay with a desire. He certainly has the tools. Time will tell if he can pick up the game, but he has dedicated himself to his workouts and watching tape of Gates, Graham, Gronkowski, and Gonzalez..Gathers clearly intends to add to the pantheon of great "G"s in tight end history.
There's a conspicuous absence from that list. But I'm sure his first practice with the Senator will clear that up in a hurry.