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Cole Beasley talks Jason Witten retiring, drafting Leighton Vander Esch, and Rico Gathers’ future

The Cowboys slot receiver gave us some interesting thoughts about the Cowboys future.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Beasley has been the man in the slot for the Cowboys, churning out third downs and moving the chains. He’s known for his sauce celebration, and he’s been holding down the fort with Tostitos at the draft in Dallas. We got a chance to talk to Beasley as he was spending time putting some sauce on his chips at the Tostitos Cantina-style experience at AT&T Stadium which has a full nacho bar, so stop by if you are at the draft. They’ll be holding a Nacho Face-Off competition with guys like Cole, Dak Prescott and Darren Woodson.

Here’s a partial transcript of our conversation.

Hey Cole, how are things at the draft at AT&T Stadium?

Beasley: We’re doing a lot of cool things here with Tostitos at the draft. The great aspect is getting everyone together to watch the draft, it’s really about everyone coming together over a bowl of Tostitos and salsa, man. It’s the NFL’s favorite chip and it’s been a great time. It’s been awesome and this is the perfect venue for the draft.

Are you as stunned by the Jason Witten news as the rest of us, or did you have an inkling it might be coming?

Beasley: I had no idea, just as surprised as everyone else. It’s not 100% yet. I don’t know what to say at this point, he’s a great teammate and a great leader, we would always want him back. So I’m just as surprised as you guys.

What’s your reaction to the Cowboys drafting Leighton Vander Esch?

Beasley: I don’t know much about the rookie class, I actually don’t watch as much football as a lot of people in the NFL. But from everything I’ve heard it sounds like a great pick, it was definitely one of the needs to address so I’m very excited to have him as a new teammate. Everything I’ve heard about him is exceptional so I can’t wait.

You have a new teammate in Allen Hurns, have you talked to him much?

Beasley: He comes to work out everyday, so we talk everyday that we’re there together. He’s a good dude, he’s a hard worker. I don’t know too much about him as a player because he was in the AFC so we didn’t see much of him. But from what I’ve seen so far he looks great, he’s ready to work.

Any idea how the team may utilize Hurns?

Beasley: No idea how we’re going to use him schematically, I don’t even know how they’re going to use me schematically (laughs). It’s all going to be different now with all the new faces and players that are leaving, so it will be interesting to see how we approach it. I mean I know we’re going to run the ball, but outside of that everything is up in the air.

We’ve been hearing about a Dak-friendly offense, Dak even talked about emulating the Chiefs or the Panthers. As players, do you talk about that kind of stuff?

Beasley: We don’t really talk about that in general, we just talk about the offense that we’ve run the past few years with Dak, and we just try and get better from that. Stuff we can improve on based on last year because we really don’t know what is going to be new in the offense at this point. Really it’s just us getting better, getting more familiar with each other on the field. I’m running the route and Dak’s throwing to me and telling me what he thinks, if it’s too late or too early, or if he wants me to do it like this or like that. We’re just constantly communicating so he knows where I’m going to be at all times and I know where he wants me to be at all times.

In 2016 you had a huge year stats-wise, in 2017 there was a little bit of a dip. Were teams paying attention to you more, using bracket-coverage with linebackers to take away the underneath routes? Or was it just a function of the offense going to different places?

Beasley: A little bit of both. Defenses definitely showed me more attention and once we realized they were paying more attention it was kind of like someone else has to win somewhere else. It’s a function of both, but the attention definitely made it more difficult for me last year. Definitely on the underneath stuff, it was almost impossible to get open underneath and that’s what I’m great at. They definitely made it tougher on me.

With Jason Witten (potentially) retiring, fans wonder about Rico Gathers. Can he be a legitimate tight end threat?

Beasley: He definitely has all the natural ability in the world which is key in the beginning. He missed a lot of time and he didn’t play a lot of football before, so the timetable is a little uncertain for how long it will take him to understand the way it works a little more. But as far as God-given ability, he’s got it. He can be as great of a player as he wants to be and I know he’ll work hard, I think we’ll see good things in the future.

How much of a difference in style is there between Dak Prescott and Tony Romo, and how has that affected the offense since Dak has been in charge?

Beasley: Once Dak got in there, our offense did change, but for the most part it was still the same. The only thing we did was a little more movement to get him outside of the pocket, and we did some zone-read things with him and Zeke. The biggest thing in this league is people try to pigeon-hole players to be one thing or they make their minds up about players, but really Dak can handle a lot more than what he is given credit for. I think in the future they will let him have more freedom as we go. Everybody talks about a Dak-friendly offense, but I feel like that’s a wide variety of things because I’ve seen the things he can do and he’s capable.

Many thanks to Cole Beasley for his time and to Tostitios for setting up the interview. Now go put some sauce on your chips and watch the draft!

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