Should Cowboys' Fans Buy Into The Rico Gathers Hype? ⋆
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Should Cowboys’ Fans Buy Into The Rico Gathers Hype?

Cowboys' Fans, Time To Tap The Breaks On The Rico Gathers Hype

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Should Cowboys’ Fans Buy Into The Rico Gathers Hype?

Should Cowboys’ Fans Buy Into The Rico Gathers Hype?

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t even made it into training camp or put on pads yet, but all eyes are already fixated on second-year tight end Rico Gathers as a potential breakout player in 2017. Justifiable or not, that’s just the way things go in the off-season. But, it might be wise for Cowboys’ fans to tap the brakes on the expectations they might have for Gathers this season.

It may sound a little harsh, but Rico Gathers still has quite a ways to go in his development before he can be relied upon. He is still transitioning from a college basketball star into a football player. There are quite a few things that go into the transition process, and unfortunately it can’t be rushed.

The Dallas Cowboys decided to draft Gathers in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft as a developmental project. The key word here being “project”. That is what #80 is, and the sooner we realize that the better.

Upon the completion of his collegiate basketball career, Rico Gathers decided to turn his attention to the gridiron and become a professional football player, despite not playing the game since he was 13 years old. So, you can imagine there are not only a lot of X’s and O’s he has to learn and catch up on, but he also has to transform his body from that of a basketball player into a football player.

Gathers has been in the system for an entire year and has been putting in the work in the strength and conditioning program to prepare his body for the upcoming season. He also had the added benefit of working with the recently retired Tony Romo on the practice squad. That alone was probably invaluable to his development, but that was in practice, not actual games.

You see, a lot of the hype surrounding Rico Gathers is because of the work he was able to get in with Romo on the practice squad. Word is the duo was virtually unstoppable against the Cowboys first team defense, which has a lot of us excited about Gathers potential, myself included. But, running scripted plays that allowed him to know exactly what to do is far different than what he would have to do in an actual game.

Rico GathersThat’s the reason I’m preaching caution here, because all of the nuances of the game he still has to learn. We really don’t know how much of a grasp he has on the playbook or if he knows all of his assignments based on what the opposing defense is showing. This is something will have to wait until training camp to find out.

The Dallas Cowboys ask quite a bit of their tight ends, which makes it one of the more difficult positions to learn. They have several responsibilities in both the running and passing game, which is mostly predicated on being able to read defensive coverages in a split second.

These are the areas of greatest concern for Gathers’ development. Of course, he also has to work on his blocking technique and route running, but that’s the physical side of the game that comes easier with proper coaching. It’s really the mental aspects holding Gathers back, because the physical traits are definitely there.

At 6’7″ and 281 pounds, Rico Gathers has rare size and athletic ability, especially for a tight end. That is why it is easy to imagine what he could possibly turn into and do on the football field.

As things stand right now, he is the #2 tight end behind Jason Witten when training camp gets underway, while Geoff Swaim and James Hanna continue to recover from their injuries. So, he will have the opportunity to prove himself. The ball is in his court (pun intended).

I’m personally still going to err on the side of caution when it comes to how much he will be able to contribute in 2017, because I think he still has quite a ways to go in his development. But, that doesn’t mean I’m not rooting for the guy.

Rico Gathers just has that kind of story you want to root for. It’s not easy to transition from one sport to another, especially when he hasn’t played the sport he’s transitioning into since he was 13. But, I’m sure we are all hoping he has a storybook ending. Right?

Are you already buying into the Rico Gathers hype?

Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

14 Comments
  • Travis Diggs

    You almost find yourself having to believe in the hype seeing how there’s been no production outside of Gold Jacket Wit at the TE position for years After letting Marcellus Bennet go we been bringing in A new TE every year and none have been productive Witten can’t play forever

    • Brian Martin

      Travis, I agree they need to find Jason Witten’s successor, but pinning our hopes on a player making the transition from basketball to football is a longshot. I’m hoping Gathers pans out, but I don’t think we should expect too much from him this season. I think he still has quite a ways to go in his development.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DallasCowboyBooksBlog fgoodwin

    After twenty years of playoff failure, hype is all Cowboy fans have left. We gotta hang our hat on something, right? After all, “this is our year” (for the fifth or sixth straight year)!

    • Brian Martin

      I just thought it was still a little premature to start hyping up a player this early in the off-season before pads of even come on. Everybody looks good in shorts and a helmet.

  • dallas1966

    Brian, I’m drinking the kool-aid. The next Billy Joe Dupree

    • http://dvqp.ru BeirutWedding

      Me too. To hell with it.

      • Brian Martin

        There’s certainly no harm in it.

    • Brian Martin

      I really want to, but I would like to see more evidence before anointing him as Jason Witten’s successor.

  • Chris Veira

    Well I like the story right up until you said “running scripted plays that allowed him to know exactly what to do”. That is called offense! See you run “scripted” plays and the good ones play fast because they know “exactly what to do”! In practice a coach teaches you to “practice like you play”, with the only difference being the tackling to the ground. So if he is hard to stop now and he can play on the big stage we could have another pro bowl TE on our hands.

    • Brian Martin

      Yes, but the scripted plays he’s running is of another team’s offense on the scout team. In the Cowboys offense he has to make route adjustments, blocking assignments, and blitz pickups he has to identify all pre-snap. Plus, he still has to develop his technique and become a better route runner. I still think he probably needs another year at the very least to work on his craft. I wouldn’t expect much from him this year, but they could put in some specific packages just for him to simplify things.

  • Kevin Black

    You can try and slow down the hype, but if Gathers isn’t on the 53, he will be poached by another team, so for Dallas fans, it’s making the 53 or bust.

    • Brian Martin

      I think he makes the 53 man roster because of that reason. Some other team will take a chance on him, but I don’t expect him to contribute very much in 2017. At most, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan might have some specific packages with Gathers in mind. That why it kind of simplifies things for him until he has full grasp of his responsibilities.

      • Kevin Black

        I agree completely as of today. I reserve the right to change my mind once training camp starts and we see how well he blocks. If his blocking is up to par, I could see him become the defacto number 2 TE while they explore ways to exploit his athleticism. His blocking though will determine his playing time.

        • Brian Martin

          I really liked what I saw from Geoff Swaim last season when he was healthy. I have a hard time believing Gathers is ready to outplay him right now. But, training camp will help determine where Gathers is at in his development, especially with Swaim and Hanna still out recovering from their injury.

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