Last offseason the term “Dak-friendly” was thrown around a ton when describing why the Cowboys cut Dez Bryant in favor of a committee approach at wide receiver. Halfway through the season, the team admitted that idea was a failure by trading for Amari Cooper. Entering this offseason program, the receiver group for the Cowboys has gone through quite the face-lift. With a clear-cut number one in Amari Cooper, the Cowboys have one of the bright young playmakers in the NFL but what about his supporting cast? Where do the Cowboys pass catchers rank as a whole?
19th. Really, 19th?
According to Bleacher Report, that’s where the Cowboys rank at receiver, which isn’t far from where they were last year. Here is their thought process:
Tight Ends: Jason Witten, Dalton Schultz, Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers, Codey McElroy
The Dallas Cowboys offense looks vastly different today than it did at the start of the 2018 campaign.
First, the organization’s midseason decision to trade a first-round pick for Cooper paid major dividends since 725 of the receiver’s 1,005 yards came with the Cowboys. The 24-year-old wideout provides the offense with the true No. 1 target owner Jerry Jones desperately wanted after Dez Bryant’s downturn.
Second, Witten returns to the field after a year in the Monday Night Football booth. Yes, the tight end is 37 years old, but he understands the game and should be able to find soft spots in zone coverage.
Dallas also hopes Gallup will continue to progress, Cobb still has something left and one of the tight ends can effectively spell Witten.
If you look at last year’s production for the Cowboys and all the teams ahead of them, 19th doesn’t seem like much to argue about.
However, we’re not talking 2018 numbers, we’re talking about this season. Every roster has faced a little change here and there and having the Cowboys rank 19th seems a little low when you look at several rosters ahead of them.
17th. The San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers have too many unanswered questions to definitively rank them higher than the Cowboys. Tight end George Kittle was phenomenal last season and set the record at his position with 1,377 yards. Kittle carried the 49ers offense for the majority of the season through a shuffling of quarterbacks after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with injury.
The top receiver options for the 49ers after Kittle were Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin, two guys that missed a total of nine games combined last season. The 49ers picked up both Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in this year’s draft, two prospects with enormous ceilings; however, the NFL isn’t always too kind to rookie wideouts. San Francisco has plenty of potential but let’s see the rookies play first.
16th. New England Patriots
“Whoa there, kid! Don’t you dare slandah the Pats!”
Look, Tom Brady is going to make this work, he always does and always will. Though it stings, Rob Gronkowski retiring is not a stake through the heart of the Patriots plans, they have been used to playing a few without him. The Patriots went out and picked up former Bronco, Demaryius Thomas who could use a change after his numbers took a nosedive since his extension a few years back.
Still, the number one option is Julian Edelman, a 30+ year-old slot receiver who just took home the Super Bowl MVP honors and a brand new extension as a result. Edelman has been Brady’s go-to guy but in order for him to really be effective, you need real threats to present themselves on the perimeters. N’Keal Harry is an interesting pick up for a team who doesn’t like spending first-rounders on receivers. Again, this is one of the hardest positions to translate from college to the pros.
With Philip Dorsett and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, there are two guys that Brady will find ways to move the ball with. There is potential here but to say it’s clearly better than the Cowboys’ depth chart is questionable.
14th. Cincinnati Bengals
It’s arguable that this Bengals roster wasn’t better than the Cowboys in 2018 but Cincinnati is betting on a coaching change and a healthy A.J. Green to change that. That’s a big “if” as Green missed seven games last season and will be 31 at the start of the season. Thankfully, the Bengals have Tyler Boyd, who broke out with a 1,000+ yard season.
John Ross has had an underwhelming NFL career after being selected in the first round several seasons ago. C.J. Uzomah gives Andy Dalton a big tight end target that is likely to usurp Tyler Eifert, who can’t remain healthy. Joe Mixon is a powerful running back but he didn’t amount to much in the passing game. This offense will have to rely on the tandem of Boyd and Green, which on paper is a fine 1-2 punch if they’re at full-strength. However, the Bengals receiving corps is not one to place above the Cowboys with confidence.
13th. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are the best reality television show in the NFL as they continuously contend in the AFC despite internal dysfunction. JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of the top emerging receivers in the league after a big 2018 season and with that said, let’s not downplay the lost of Antonio Brown who has been arguably the most productive receiver in the last decade. Brown has been to six straight Pro Bowls, and up until 2018 was riding a five-year streak of First-Team All-Pro honors.
JuJu Smith-Schuster has only played without Brown in four career games, now he’ll be the guy in Pittsburgh with all the attention on him. After JuJu, the Steelers are staring down three relatively unknown products in Donte Moncrief, James Washington, and Diontae Johnson.
You can expect Big Ben to move the ball downfield but he also just tied his second-highest career total with 16 interceptions. The Steelers had an incredible receiving tandem in the past few years but they suffered a huge loss with Antonio going to Oakland.
The Cowboys still have questions at receiver but you have to be pleased with how Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup closed out 2018. Adding Randall Cobb is a minimal risk with high reward potential, Tavon Austin gives the Cowboys some juice at the very least. Allen Hurns and Jason Witten will factor in as big targets for Dak Prescott to keep the offense ahead of the chains. For what the Cowboys added to their passing offense this offseason, it’s good enough to put them in the Top-15. They certainly have a formidable argument with these four teams ahead of them.