We’ve reached the end of our 2019 Draft Needs series, and we’re concluding with the position that I feel is the Dallas Cowboys’ greatest concern this year. Based on current talent and possible future need, I believe that the Tight End position should be their top draft priority.
A few weeks ago I ranked all of the Cowboys’ roster positions by need and had tight end in the top spot. My feelings haven’t changed.
“I put tight end above safety because at every spot on the two depth charts, I think safety has a slight advantage in terms of current talent:
- Young Prospect: Xavier Woods > Blake Jarwin
- Veteran: George Iloka > Jason Witten
- Depth: Heath/Frazier > Schultz/Gathers
That Iloka/Witten comparison might stun you, but remember that this is 2019 and Witten just spent a year doing commentary. I’m not talking about Jason’s Hall of Fame career, but just what he brings to the table this season.
But you see my point; safety seems stronger across the board. Woods looks like a long-term starter and Iloka, a newly-added free agent, could have 2-3 years of solid veteran play left in him.”
One counterpoint you could make is there’s only one starting tight end and two safeties, so doesn’t that make safety more important?
Again, look at those player comparisons. And keep in mind that Dallas uses multiple tight ends often on single plays. On average, where do the Cowboys stand to have greater talent on the field?
We all would love to see Witten’s return be stuff of Disney moves, but we have to be realistic. Father Time had reduced Jason to a low-impact player in 2017, and how he’s spent a season away from the field and having to talk to Booger McFarland a lot. Neither of those are good.
A reality check is also needed when it comes to this idea that Witten is going to have a Mr. Miyagi effect on our other tight ends. Only in Hollywood could Daniel LaRusso ever defeat all of those Cobra Kai; the talent level wasn’t really there.
None of Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz, or Rico Gathers have shown yet that they can be a fixture at TE for years to come. And really, that makes sense considering how they came here. Jarwin was undrafted, Schultz was a fourth-round pick, and Gathers was taken in the seventh.
Sure, hidden gems are out there in any draft. Maybe one of these guys will defy their draft stock and become a Pro Bowl player.
But this 2019 draft presents some strong Day 2 candidates at TE, guys who could be instant upgrades not just over Jarwin but perhaps even over the aged Jason Witten. And given how well-stocked the Cowboys are across most of their roster, this is a very good time to go ahead and make a big move.
Last night in the first round, the consensus top-two tight ends were drafted in Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson (Lions) and Noah Fant (Broncos). But the rest of the 2019 TE class is still available, and there’s a good chance that one of the next-best guys will be there when Dallas is on the clock at the 58th pick.
We won’t debate the merits of Dawson Knox versus Irv Smith versus Jace Sternberger versus Kahale Warring here. That all changes depending on what you prioritize, and more importantly, what the Cowboys prioritize in a tight end. It also depends on how their scouts have interpreted what players have shown on film.
But clearly, there will be options tonight in the second round. In fact, there may be enough options that Dallas is willing to wait until the third.
While I do give tight end the edge over safety is terms of need, the margin is fairly slim. If the Cowboys like the depth at TE over S then they could easily go with the defensive back first with tonight’s picks.
For that matter, the team could be totally gaga over Blake Jarwin’s potential and not see the need for any tight ends from this draft. We can’t be certain.
However, given the depth that Dallas has throughout most of its roster, plus the high quality of the TE options in this 2019 draft class, it just feel like the right mix of circumstances for them to go ahead and increase their talent pool.
Thankfully, we won’t have to wait long to see what they do.
Draft Likelihood: 90%
Projected Round: 2nd-3rd
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