Cowboys Draft: Tight End Prospects & Strategies ⋆
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Cowboys Draft: Tight End Prospects & Strategies

NFL Draft - Cowboys Draft: Tight End Prospects & Strategies

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Tight End Prospects & Strategies

In my previous two articles we looked at the prospects and strategies at running back and wide receiver, so today we will look at the tight ends.

First the state of the TE position. With Jason Witten and James Hanna returning, Geoff Swaim being an up and coming option, and Gavin Escobar still in the mix, I doubt the TE position is high on the Cowboys list. But if someone drops and the Cowboys get great value, then it is always a possibility. So let’s look at the players available in the draft that the Cowboys may be interested in the first four rounds.

Here are some of the attributes that are important when analyzing the tight end position. Typically I look at:

  1. Route Running – How do they run routes to create separation
  2. Zone Awareness – Can they sit down in a zone and find space
  3. Hands – Do they catch the ball? Can they catch with hands vs body
  4. Size – The bigger the better
  5. Speed – Will they be a mismatch
  6. Blocking – Can they seal the edge, can they drive linebackers backwards, can they pick up blitzes
  7. Power/Physicality – Can they make contested catch, can they get a push when blocking
  8. Running – Can they get YAC
  9. Intelligence – Do they understand concepts
  10. Character/Work Ethic – Are they the right kind of guy

Now let’s take a look at some of the prospects that will be available to the Cowboys:

Hunter Henry

Strengths

  • Good size
  • Skilled route runner. Knows how to set them up
  • Can quickly get up the field on seam routes. Tough match up for linebacker
  • Knows how to use body lean to set up route and gain separation
  • Understands how to sit down in a zone
  • Great hands. Will make the contested catch
  • Great body control
  • Plays with effort in blocking game
  • Knows how to set up picks. Understands route combinations
  • Can run isolation routes

Weaknesses

  • Not an inline blocker
  • Lacks strength
  • Will get moved off spot when blocking
  • Struggles if linebacker gets hands on him

Summary

    • Best receiving TE in the draft
    • Polished route runner, should contribute in passing game immediately
    • Needs to add strength and learn to block
    • He is not on Cowboys board in the first or second round
    • I have him as a top 50 player

Nick Vannett

Strengths

  • Good size
  • Good speed combine
  • Great body control
  • Good with ball in his hands. Will get YAC.
  • Good hands. Will make the contested catch
  • Willing blocker who uses his hands well and uses his body to shield and redirects
  • Plays with good leverage and understands who to block in pass protection
  • Understands how to sit down in a zone
  • Hard worker. Good engine

Weaknesses

  • Has not ran full route tree
  • Needs to set up routes better. Needs to learn to use body lean to set up route
  • Has not played in NFL type offense

Summary

    • May be the best overall TE in draft
    • Reminds me of Witten, but is not the polished route runner Witten is
    • Will need to learn NFL type offense and defense schemes
    • He is not on Cowboys board in the first or second round
    • I have him as a top 60 player

Jerrell Adams

Strengths

  • Good size, speed combine
  • Tall, with long arms
  • Best athlete in TE class
  • Can get up field on linebackers, can use his size against safeties
  • Plays inline or in slot. Can even line up on the outside too
  • He creates separation on the routes
  • Uses body well to shield blockers
  • Good functional strength

Weaknesses

  • Unpolished, needs to learn technique
  • Needs to set up routes better
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • Can play tall in blocking game and loses leverage

Summary

    • Best athlete of TEs
    • Will be a risk/reward pick
    • Needs to become polished route runner, but athleticism and speed will make him effective until then
    • I have him as a top 75 player

Austin Hooper

Strengths

  • Good size, speed combine
  • Smart, understands how to sit in zone,
  • Understands route combinations and how to set them up
  • Good blocker, can set edge or pass protect
  • Good motor, sustains block to the end
  • Hands catcher, creates a large catch radius
  • Tough runner after the catch, though not necessarily the most athletic
  • Hard working by all accounts

Weaknesses

  • Average speed and athleticism
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • Is not as quick out of breaks as other TEs

Summary

    • Solid all around TE
    • Will be a risk/reward pick
    • Needs to become polished route runner, but athleticism and speed will make him effective until then
    • I have him as a top 90 player

Tyler Higbee

Strengths

  • Good size, speed combine
  • Good runner after the catch
  • Is a hands catcher that can catch in traffic
  • Really good body control
  • Can high point the ball
  • Puts effort into blocking
  • Good motor, plays to whistle
  • Versatile as H-back, TE and can play some FB.

Weaknesses

  • Limited upside
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • He played against weak competition.

Summary

    • Risk/reward pick
    • Hard nose player, but limited upside
    • I have him as a top 130 player

Bryce Williams

Strengths

  • Good runner that will get YAC
  • Smooth route runner. Past receiver, knows how to set up routes
  • An athlete, good body control
  • Aggressive, will go get the ball
  • Versatile, he can line up anywhere on the field
  • Willing blocker

Weaknesses

  • Below average speed and athleticism
  • Needs to get stronger and be more physical
  • Needs more work on blocking techniques

Summary

    • Good in passing game
    • Good route runner but needs to add other facets to game
    • Will be a risk/reward pick
    • I have him as a top 150 player

The Cowboys will not be looking for a TE early in this draft, but I would not be surprised to see them take one if one of the top 4 TEs drop to the fourth round. If they do not, then I could see them taking a flier on a blocking TE with a sixth round pick.

That is all for the TEs, stay tuned for the next article which will look at the offensive tackle position.

Tommy Simon

Tommy Simon is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker and sports enthusiast. He is currently CEO of TechBAA, an investor and board member of TPC Technical and CommunitesFIrst, and acting CFO for ALS Communities. In addition to investing and advising companies, Tommy is also a Sales Management coach and is working with companies as a Fractional CMO/CSO. Tommy is a life long football player, coach and Cowboy fan. He currently coaches and sponsors several 7 on 7 teams. He manages/coaches an adult flag football team that is the top team in Florida one of the highest ranked teams in the country. Tommy's hobbies include international travel, fantasy football, reading, and engaging in intelligent political discourse. He is married to a wonderful women for 18 years; which is the best thing he has ever accomplished. He has a dog that is the best dog ever. He also has 9 siblings and roughly 30 nieces and nephews. For more information about tommy, or to request him to speak, please contact him at info@techbaa.com

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