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Did the Dallas Cowboys improve at tight end in 2018?

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Taking a good look at every position on the roster and asking the question: Did the Cowboys improve?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

[In this series, we’ll take a look at the additions and subtractions at every position on the Dallas Cowboys roster. We’ll compare where the Cowboys were to where they currently sit and ask the ultimate question. Did the Cowboys improve or not? In other words, do you feel better about the state of the roster going into the 2018 season?]

Last season:

Jason Witten - 16 games, 63 receptions, 560 yards, 8.9 YPC, 5 TD’s, 72.4% catch rate, Retired after 15 seasons, 11-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro, franchise leader in receptions & receiving yards

James Hanna - 16 games, eight starts, four receptions, 88 yards, 22 YPC, 1 TD, 44.4% catch rate, Retired after five seasons, multiple knee surgeries

Geoff Swaim - 15 games, two starts, two receptions, 25 yards, 12.5 YPC, 100% catch rate

Blake Jarwin- UDFA from Oklahoma State, spent majority of 2017 on practice squad, active for one game

Rico Gathers - IR (Concussion, jaw, stinger)

This season:

Geoff Swaim

Blake Jarwin

Rico Gathers

Dalton Schultz - Drafted 137th overall from Stanford (4th round), College stats: Three seasons, 55 receptions, 555 yards, 10.1 YPC, 5 TD’s

David Wells - UDFA from San Diego State, College stats: Four seasons, 38 receptions, 449 yards, 11.8 YPC, 6 TD’s

For the first time in 15 years, the tight end position is not one of the most stable positions on the roster. In years past, the Cowboys drafted all sorts of tight ends: Anthony Fasano, Martellus Bennett, and Gavin Escobar to name a few. However, Jason Witten was never coming off the field so opportunities to get the ball to other tight ends were scarce.

Geoff Swaim, 24-years-old, is suddenly the veteran presence in the room going into his fourth season with nine career catches. He’s always been a pretty steady inline blocker for the Cowboys and he does have solid athleticism. In 2016, he was building trust with Dak Prescott and had a few standout plays before he was injured. Swaim will get the chance to become a bigger contributor but he’ll need to prove he can be a consistent target.

Blake Jarwin is the guy the Cowboys are most excited about seeing what he can add to their passing offense. He’s got very distinguishable traits from the other guys on the roster. He plays loose and has decent agility. Jarwin has been an early standout in these offseason practices as he and Dak Prescott seem to be clicking.

The Cowboys had high hopes for Rico Gathers and he still has his fans rooting for him. He just hasn’t picked up the fundamentals of the position quick enough to trust him down after down. Gathers has been the highlight reel of the past two preseasons but he’s got to be able to do more than make a few flashy catches.

Another guy that has very high potential to contribute early is Dalton Schultz. You know he was coached well at Stanford under David Shaw and that school has put out quite a few talented players at the position. Schultz is already being praised for his understanding of the Cowboys blocking scheme. He wasn’t always asked to be a receiving threat in college but it’s not like he can’t be one. Schultz understands route concepts and works hard to get open for his quarterback.

David Wells has great size but he needs better play strength. Though he’s certainly solid in setting up his blocks, he doesn’t consistently finish his man. He’s got upside as a pass catcher but he can look a little sluggish in and out of his routes at times. Wells will need quite a bit of polishing to become a significant role player.

Conclusion: An optimist will like the fact that there is more athleticism on the field than what you had with Jason Witten the past few years. However, this position is still a complete mystery. With Witten, the Cowboys always had stability and consistency. Now, they don’t really have a firm grasp on how they’ll use these guys yet. Will tight end even be a prominent role in the passing game? Every tight end on the roster is unproven, which is why you can’t say that they have improved at the position yet.

Poll

Did the Cowboys improve at tight end in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Yes
    (644 votes)
  • 48%
    No
    (958 votes)
  • 18%
    Indifferent
    (356 votes)
1958 votes total Vote Now