While the beginning of the 2017 NFL Free Agency period has begun to deplete the Dallas Cowboys defense, their offensive needs have become no less important.
But what if I told you that the Cowboys could draft defensive playmakers in the first two rounds, and then could add the successor to one the franchise's all time great offensive players in round three?
This is exactly what Dallas can do if they select Michigan Wolverine's tight end Jake Butt in the 2017 NFL Draft.
While we haven't thought of tight end as much of a need over the last decade due to the greatness of Jason Witten, both his age and contract details are putting the Cowboys in a pinch. Now, they may need to look to add another young tight end during one of the next two drafts.
Over at Slant Sports I recently profiled Jake Butt, and came away giving him a third round grade. Despite this grade, I do believe that Butt is a top five tight end prospect in this draft class, and can be a solid pro player for many years to come.
A smart route runner, Jake Butt finds soft spots in zones nicely. He is almost similar to Jason Witten in the sense that he is not great after the catch, but he is a savvy route runner who can get himself open.
Jake Butt doesn't possess the lateral quickness or “big play” ability that some of the other high profile tight ends in this class have, but he does a good job of using his body positioning and leverage to win against defenders.
As a blocker, Jake Butt is rather reliable. While he needs to improve on his technique, he is a willing blocker who does a good job of shielding off defensive backs and linebackers at the second level.
Butt is also a very willing run/pass blocker. When needed, he does a decent job with blocking the second level as well. Countless times I saw him shield off corners in open space to spring long runs.
Jake Butt has all the tools to be a consistent tight end in the NFL. His main problem at this point is his ACL tear, which he is still recovering from at this point. I am not sure if he will be ready to play in year one, or if he will need a “red shirt” season like Jaylon Smith did, but either way he would be worth the third round pick.
Butt has the versatility to play all over an offense, including the traditional in-line role, an h-back role, and in the slot.
Despite my (very loud) calling for the Cowboys to stick to 11 personnel, they love themselves some two tight end sets. I believe that with some coaching to improve his technique, Jake Butt can be a solid run blocker in these sets. He would also give the Cowboys a real pass catching threat from the tight end position.
To be quite honest, I love how Jake Butt would fit in with the Cowboys. And considering his bowl-game knee injury, it almost makes too much sense.