Any player taken in the third round of their draft shouldn't be expected to contribute immediately. But for Cowboys WR Jalen Tolbert, the path to becoming a key asset in Dallas appears to have been accelerated. He's already standing out as one of the team's most-trusted receivers in these earliest days of his career.
With Michael Gallup still recovering from knee surgery and James Washington quickly exiting training camp after a foot fracture, Tolbert has been getting a lot of work with the first-team offense. Thankfully, the rookie appears up for the challenge.
I asked one team source: “He’s a dude?” His answer: “Yes. Has big play ability from the jump and knows how to separate. Dak [Prescott] already trusts him.”
There's been excitement about Jalen for months. He was seen as a steal for where Dallas drafted him in April, especially energizing after the offseason losses of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson. Tolbert provided a ray of hope towards mitigating their departures.
Almost everything since the draft has been positive. Tolbert's reportedly been a stud throughout practices and earning confidence from his quarterback and coaches. Even when the veteran Washington was injured a few weeks ago, it didn't sting as much because of all the good reports on Jalen.
Happy (unofficial) Cowboys depth chart season to all who celebrate pic.twitter.com/iwYWk7OQTM
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) August 9, 2022
Unfortunately, last Saturday's preseason game was not a great showcase of Tolbert's impact. The team was clearly trying to get him involved early but poor pass protection and an off night from QB Cooper Rush didn't give Jalen or any other receiver much opportunity to shine.
Of course, what matters are the games in September. With either Gallup or Washington, and perhaps both, missing the early regular season we may very well see Tolbert in a starting role in tough games against the Bucs and Bengals and divisional matchups with the Commanders and Giants.
How the rookie looks when Dak Prescott is under center and surrounded by the rest of the first-team offense is what matters. While Tolbert's preseason debut was quiet, it shouldn't diminish all of the good things we've heard over the last few months.
We'll see if Jalen Tolbert can make more believers this Saturday in Los Angeles.