The tight end position was considered one of the Dallas Cowboys’ biggest needs for the 2019 draft, and yet they didn’t spend a single pick there. Does this indicate that the team already has high hopes for what Jason Witten’s return means, and are they putting too much faith in a 37-year-old coming out of retirement?
As you know, Witten decided to play again this season after spending 2018 in the Monday Night Football booth. His return to the Cowboys is a cool story; the Hall-of-Fame TE who wasn’t ready to let go of the game. And of course, we all want him to succeed.
But the reality is that Jason wasn’t all that effective the last time he suited up. His yards-per-reception were the lowest of his career, and we all remember those slow runs to the sideline after making a catch. Witten can still be a solid player in spots, but he’s no game-changer anymore.
Jason’s now two years older and unlikely to be anything more than what we saw in 2017, and there’s a good chance he’ll be even less. Given that probability, why did the Cowboys not try to add more TE talent during the draft?
Maybe it’s not about Witten but more Blake Jarwin, who finished last year as the starter. Jarwin has flashed some nice receiving ability but in very limited moments. Can he put in a full year of quality production?
Again, with thoughts of Super Bowl contention over the next few years, why are the Cowboys taking such a big risk?
There are many factors that played into Dallas’ decisions in last week’s draft. Maybe they didn’t love the available TE talent, and maybe they do think highly of Jarwin’s potential.
But part of me worries that they’re putting too many eggs in the Jason Witten basket. You could argue they already held on too long during the last couple of years of his career, not rotating in younger and more explosive talent.
What’s so surprising is that the Cowboys never hesitated to try spend draft capital on Witten’s backups. They spent second-round picks on Anthony Fasano, Martellus Bennett, and Gavin Escobar. They also used later-round picks to add guys like John Phillips, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim, and Rico Gathers.
But for some reason, when the need at TE is about as high as it’s been since 2003, the Cowboys left the position untouched in the draft.
I quipped in a recent article that the Cowboys better not be hoping Witten comes in like Mr. Miyagi or Obi-Wan Kenobi and teaches Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, or anyone else how to play their way into Canton. He can’t force any of those guys to become more than they’re talent levels allows.
The duo of Jarwin and Witten is intriguing, but how much better if Dallas has taken one of the better TE talents in the draft for Jason to help groom? Couldn’t the potential have been higher?
The Cowboys must not have thought so, and hopefully I am proven wrong by what Jason and the young tight ends accomplish in 2019. But if my pessimism is proven right, then Dallas’ delusions could cost them in the upcoming season.