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Could OT, Not TE Be Rico Gathers’ Best Position In Dallas?

Brian Martin



Could Offensive Tackle Be Rico Gathers Best Position With Dallas?

When it comes to Rico Gathers and his NFL career, there is still a lot of unknown about the Dallas Cowboys second-year tight end. Still, that doesn't stop Cowboys' fans from hoping he is the heir apparent to future Hall of Famer Jason Witten. But, I'm not even sure if tight end is Gathers' best position. I think it could possibly be offensive tackle and I'll tell you why.

We all know that Rico Gathers is a tremendous athlete. I've actually been a fan of his for quite a while. I followed his collegiate basketball career at Baylor and was actually really excited when the Cowboys decided to draft him in the sixth round a year ago.

At first, I thought he would make a really good tight end in time, but that all depended on how quickly he could advance in his development. He has really rare size and athletic ability for man his size, but that doesn't necessarily always translate to the field.

Word is Gathers has taken the next step in his development and has been impressive in the off-season practices so far. But, I'm still not quite sure if he will ever get to the stage where he can be a reliable tight end. For me, that mostly has to do with how much the Dallas Cowboys ask their tight ends to do and the obstacles he still has to overcome.

Personally, I think there are two things that are holding him back so far. The first one is the mental aspect of the game. Rico Gathers not only has to know his blocking assignments and blitz pickups, but he also has to be able to read defensive coverages to know which routes to run. And that is the second thing I think holding him back, his route running.

Rico Gathers has never really had to run routes in the passing game in his entire life before joining the Dallas Cowboys. It's not something that's going to come to him overnight, but it is something that I think could keep him off the field as a tight end.

Due to his size, Gathers is going to struggle getting in and out of his breaks when running pass routes. He just looks stiff running, but the coaching staff is working with him to try to and loosen him up. That could really limit his effectiveness and possibly keep him from becoming a starter. But, that's not necessarily bad news the way I see it.

Rico GathersThe Dallas Cowboys have Rico Gathers listed at  6'6", 290. That's nearly 2 inches taller and nearly 40 pounds heavier than the average tight end in the NFL. But, if he packs on about 10 to 15 pounds, he would he would almost exactly the same size as the Dallas Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.

Tyron Smith is an athletic freak in his own right and has become one of the best left tackles in the NFL. I honestly see a lot of the same traits in Rico Gathers as I do Tyron Smith. I personallly believe Gathers would make a much quicker transition to tackle, and actually thrive there.

You see, Gathers' background in basketball would actually work in his favor as a tackle. He already has a really good foundation in place by knowing how to mirror defenders and shuffle his feet while doing so. He also has the physicality that will help him as a blocker as well. And that's not even mentioning how much his athletic ability will help him on the outside in space.

I'm not saying the Dallas Cowboys will switch Rico Gathers to tackle anytime soon, but it's not a bad fallback option. The mental aspect of the game really isn't as difficult as tight end, and like I said earlier, I think he already has the foundation in place. That is why I believe his best position in the NFL might be offensive tackle, not tight end.

Do you think Rico Gathers would make a good offensive tackle?

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.

  • BrooklynPhenix Rising

    Without reading the article my thought was the only position would be Tackle. I didn’t know he was 290 pounds, so yes that transition would work, it worked for Rayfield Wright didn’t he come out of college a TE? Anyway the name of the game is do whatever to get on the field. So if he did switch or they asked him to move it wouldn’t be a bad thing.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m not sure about Rayfield Wright. That’s something I’m going to have to look up. I know Lane Johnson of the Philadelphiaa Eagles made that transition and he’s doing well for himself. I don’t see any reason why Gathers wouldn’t be able to do it.

      • John Williams

        Lane Johnson though played offensive line in college for OU before being drafted.

        • Brian Martin

          That’s true, but he was recruited as a TE.

          • John Williams

            That’s a good point.

  • John Williams

    He certainly has the size to do it. That being said, I still am intrigued by his ability as a tight end.

    Maybe for 2017, the coaches should strictly game plan him to be an inline blocker to help him get more comfortable with that in the early going. Then as the season progresses begin adding more routes to the gameplan for him.

    • Brian Martin

      I’m still intrigued by Gathers as well, but I think his skill set better suits that of an OT. I think the only way he gets on the field in 2017 is if the coaching staff has some kind of specific package for him on offense. He’s just not ready to be thrown into the fire yet.

      • John Williams

        I agree. He’s one of just several intriguing story lines heading into training camp.

  • ThePsychodad69

    Can we give him a few games before deciding he can’t do it. The kid was a low post player that could dribble and rebound. The reounding gives him good hands, the hardest part for him is getting open in football where as basketball all he had to do was get position and rebound which he did pretty well, so eyehand coordination is there. Besides pretty sure he can run 7yds and high point a few 1st downs or stand under the goalpost and wait for the alleyoop for a dunk right now. He’s a matchup nightmare within 15yds he runs pretty good, maybe not a great route runner but like #82 he can box out and grab a pass, with his athleticism even on dump offs he’s a career decision to tackle.

    Wright played in a age of TEs being a 6th lineman, very few TEs played beyond the line of scrimmage or caught the ball beyond the occasional designed play.

    Either way he should make the 53 if HannaSwaim miss time or they go lite on the line.
    Hell would love to see WittenGaethersSkipper in a 3TE set near the goal line with Dak, Zeke and Dez. Put Skipper in the backfield behind Zeke as a blocker, then shift into a stack, who follows Skipper is the tell and then let Zeke smash the weakside.

    Pass the Xanax, this team is going to keep DCs up all nite and ruin careers for some.

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: WR Deonte Thompson A Vertical Threat for Dallas Cowboys

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: WR Deonte Thompson A Vertical Threat for Dallas Cowboys

Finally addressing their underwhelming cast of wide receivers, the Dallas Cowboys signed journeyman Deonte Thompson yesterday. The seventh-year pro spent 2017 with both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills, hauling in 38 passes for 555 yards and two touchdowns.

Thompson was undrafted in 2012 out of Florida, making both the Cowboys' free agent signings to date former UDFAs. The Cowboys added LB Joe Thomas earlier in the week, who you can learn more about in Sean's Scout as well.

In desperate need of speed and play making ability on the outside, here is a look at what WR Deonte Thompson can bring to the Dallas Cowboys.

WR Deonte Thompson: Strengths

Thompson1 - Streamable

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Deonte Thompson plays with a great understanding of his own frame, using his length to give defensive backs problems up the field. Not a true "burner", Thompson takes some time to accelerate down the field, but can separate vertically.

Thompson runs smooth routes, using his long strides to get on DBs in a hurry. Once in position to free himself at the stem of a route, Thompson showed the ability to consistently turn his hips and complete a number of underneath and deep routes at a high level.

Thompson2 - Streamable

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Deonte Thompson may not win on many throws "above the rim", but he is above average at the catch point securing passes with his strong hands.

Snagging the ball outside of his frame is not much of an issue for Thompson, who makes the most of his run-after-the-catch opportunities by effortlessly receiving the ball in stride.

At this stage of his career, Thompson may not be an every down player, but this is a player the Cowboys can absolutely find a way to get involved in their sputtering passing offense next season - at the very least replacing the role of FA WR Brice Butler.

WR Deonte Thompson: Weaknesses

Deonte Thompson should not be expected to go over the top on many defenses for the Cowboys in 2018. While the traits are there to flash as that sort of player, Thompson simply is not at his best trying to track down deep vertical passes.

When Thompson does not create separation on his initial burst up the field, there was a tendency for him to get shoved around at the catch point. Still coming up with his fair share of passes, the degree of difficulty on these catches was often increased by his inability to truly play through contact.

This is not a player with a powerful lower body, relying on upper body flex and foot speed to free himself and create plays in space. Overall balance is a strength for Thompson, but he rarely is able to break tackles or move defenders as a blocker in the running game.

WR Deonte Thompson: Summary

Thompson3 - Streamable

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The Cowboys should know what they are getting in Deonte Thompson, who has not had the benefit of great quarterback play in recent seasons. The hope in Dallas is that a number of receivers on the bottom of the depth chart can stand out this summer to make the team out of a crowded room.

This group of Ryan Switzer, Lance Lenoir, Noah Brown, and KD Cannon will now include Deonte Thompson - who should have the edge over most of these names.

Thompson won't be the difference in the Cowboys' offense having a bounce back season in 2018, but his raw athleticism and effortless ability to serve as a deep threat could surely make an impact in Dak Prescott's progression.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: WR Deonte Thompson A Vertical Threat for Dallas Cowboys" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Using Win Probabilities To Evaluate Decision Making: Cowboys Kick Vs. Raiders

Kevin Brady



Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys' Defense Silently Shined, Jeff Heath Saved The Season 1
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles have surpassed the Dallas Cowboys in more ways than one, but on Super Bowl Sunday, their willingness to "be aggressive" and "take chances" shined through the most. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was congratulated by the masses for not coaching scared, and instead going for it on key fourth downs and even attempting trick plays.

When you really evaluate those decisions, however, they shouldn't even be thought of as "risky." If anything, they were simply the obvious call.

Over the last few months I have been working with win probability models, looking to validate and refine those available to the public. I can't share too much about the work as of yet (there will hopefully be a published article in the future), but the work is certainly promising.

What I can say is this. Dennis Lock and Dan Nettleton worked to utilize random forests to estimate win probabilities before each play in an NFL game. These "forests" are similar to decision tree machine learning, cycling through random trees of past data to predict future outcomes.

Brian Burke has been utilizing his model for a while now, and Pro Football Reference has a simple, yet effective model as well. For my project, I have been working to find the "best" ways to estimate those win probabilities in order to inform decision making by head coaches and coordinators.

If you aren't utilizing analytics correctly in today's NFL, you're falling behind. And if you aren't willing to take calculated risks based off of what these numbers say and mean, you are really falling behind.

How does this all relate to the Cowboys?

Well, Cowboys Nation has been pretty consistent in their main criticism of head coach Jason Garrett: he's too conservative. They say he coaches scared, and they believe he punts the ball away too often between the 40's. Numbers accumulated by writers such as Bob Sturm and Marcus Mosher back up these claims, but I wanted to examine Garrett's decision making through the win probability lens.

I took to Twitter to ask the fan base for specific scenarios in which they felt Garrett was too conservative. Then, I ran these situations through the win probability model to determine how these decisions affected the outcomes.

Over a series of posts I will detail what the model says about the Cowboys' decision making in these key moments. First, we go back to December of last season where the Cowboys had their season on the line in Oakland.

Cowboys at Raiders, 2017

One instance which was consistently brought up was ironically from a Cowboys win. Yes, a win!

The Raiders had played the Cowboys close all game long, and with their season on the line Dallas was in position to put those pesky Raiders away. Tied at 17 they entered a fourth and goal situation at the Raiders' 1 yard line. The Cowboys decided to kick the field goal and grab a 20-17 lead. While Dallas did hang on to win, this was only because of a miraculous play by Jeff Heath which resulted in a fumble and a touchback.

Many of the fans who tweeted at me seem to think the Cowboys should have went for the touchdown on fourth down, rather than take their three points. But what does the model say?

Prior to the fourth down play, the Cowboys had about an 85% chance to win the game. After kicking the field goal and kicking the ball away to Oakland, that probability went down to just above 80%. Had the Cowboys gone for it and been stuffed at the Raiders' 1 yard line, that probability would have dropped all the way to just over 57%.

But the model does believe that Garrett made the right decision. Of course, had Dallas scored a touchdown, the game would've virtually been over, but the variance in probabilities suggests that kicking the field goal and taking the sure points was a good move.

Next week, I explain where Jason Garrett and company may have gone wrong during a key 4th down decision against the Los Angeles Rams. If you have any suggestions for plays/situations you'd like evaluated, please comment below!

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?

La agencia libre de los Dallas Cowboys comenzó un poco tarde, siendo el último equipo en toda la liga de la NFL en realizar una contratación este offseason. Ahora, con algunas caras nuevas en el equipo, comienzan las preguntas inevitables. ¿Qué jugadores tendrán un impacto y qué jugadores serán una contratación irrelevante?

Sólo el tiempo lo dirá. Las piezas que añadieron los Cowboys no son agentes libres de gran renombre pero podrían llegar a tener algún impacto en el 2018. Sin embargo, no todas las adquisiciones de Dallas han sido por medio de la agencia libre.

Hace unos días, los Raiders y los Cowboys acordaron un trade por el fullback Jamize Olawale. Días después de perder a Keith Smith (quien fue contratado por... los Raiders), Dallas no quiso echarse todavía otra necesidad encima, así que solucionó rápidamente su hueco en la posición que le abrirá camino a Ezekiel Elliott.

Además de enviar a Olawale a los Cowboys, los Raiders consiguieron una selección de quinta ronda de parte de Dallas y ellos entregaron su sexta ronda. En otras palabras, los Cowboys sólo renunciaron 19 turnos en las rondas tardías del Draft por un fullback que será de ayuda constante para esta ofensiva.

A pesar de ser tres años más grande que Keith Smith, Olawale le brinda a los Cowboys potencial para participar en el juego aéreo así como en el terrestre.

Por la agencia libre, los Cowboys obtuvieron ayuda ofensiva y defensiva.

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Joe Thomas, (no, no el que todos conocemos como uno de los mejores tackles de la historia) el linebacker que viene de los Green Bay Packers, usará la estrella este 2018. Mi compañero y escritor de Staff Sean Martin escribió una excelente pieza analizando a detalle al nuevo defensivo. 

Thomas definitivamente no será un titular, pero sin duda ayudará a un grupo de equipos especiales que necesitan bastante apoyo esta temporada. Además, es un linebacker rápido y atlético que podrá brillar como un jugador de rotación en una defensiva que incluye a Sean Lee y a Jaylon Smith.

Esta contratación no hace que los Cowboys dejen de tener una gran necesidad por un LB, pero da una profundidad que urgía a la posición.

Questions Surround Cowboys WR Position After Deonte Thompson Signing

El último movimiento y quizá el más discutido por los aficionados de los Cowboys es la adquisición de Deonte Thompson. Un receptor abierto que ha batallado para conseguir una casa en la NFL llega a un equipo que cuenta con nombres como Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams y Cole Beasley, pero que aún necesita mucho más producción.

¿Acaso la adición de Thompson al roster hace que WR deje de ser una necesidad para el equipo de los Cowboys? Claro que no, pero añade un talento que quizá pueda ayudar al equipo en ciertos aspectos.

Thompson es un jugador muy rápido, lo cual es algo que esta ofensiva necesita para abrir el campo un poco más. Un corredor de rutas bastante sólido con manos seguras. Thompson viene probablemente a ser una versión mejorada de Brice Butler por $2.5M.

Quizá fue un error de parte de la administración garantizarle un millón de su contrato. ¿Por qué garantizarle dinero a un jugador que ni siquiera debería tener un lugar asegurado en el equipo? Sin embargo, Thompson parece ser un contribuidor a la ofensiva.

Pero no fue el WR en la agencia libre del que se ha hablado esta semana en el mundo de los Dallas Cowboys. De hecho, aún después de firmar su contrato, no es el más discutido entre los aficionados.

Allen Hurns, receptor que fue cortado de Jacksonville, es un jugador que podría llegar a hacer un impacto inmediato en la ofensiva de Dak Prescott y proveerle al QB un potencial mejor amigo. A pesar de que muchos esperarían que conseguir a Hurns significaría decirle adiós a Dez Bryant, la verdad es que no sería necesario.

Hurns podría tomar el rol que Terrance Williams posee ahora como receptor "Z" y llevar a esta ofensiva a otro nivel. Todd Archer de ESPN reportó que la reciente adquisición de Deonte Thompson no significa que la posibilidad de ver a Hurns usando la estrella ha acabado.

Todos queremos ver acción en la agencia libre, aunque a veces lo sensato sea ser conservadores. Así como muchos aficionados de los Cowboys se quejan de la falta de movimientos, muchos aficionados de los Steelers y los Patriots agradecen que sus equipos tengan esta filosofía de no gastar mucho en agencia libre.

La diferencia son los resultados en el campo.

Sin embargo, Allen Hurns definitivamente parece como una opción muy viable para los Cowboys, y una adición que simplemente tendría mucho sentido. Sólo queda esperar si lograrán firmarlo o si un equipo (como los Jets, quienes han mostrado mucho interés y tienen bastante espacio en el tope salarial) logra convencerlo de no regresar a Dallas.

Por ahora, esperamos. Quizá hasta que los Cowboys firmen a alguien más. O quizá hasta la llegada del NFL Draft.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Nuevas Contrataciones, ¿Podría Ser Allen Hurns la Siguiente?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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