As we were all still licking our wounds from the Amari Cooper trade just over a month prior, the Dallas Cowboys used the 88th pick of the 2022 NFL draft to ease our concerns about the wide receiver position.
After the skepticism of the Tyler Smith and Sam Williams selections, the Cowboys picked the best receiver available in the third round.
The selection of Jalen Tolbert from South Alabama was met with majority approval from the Cowboys faithful. However, the feeling shifted from approval to disappointment as the year progressed.
Despite the Cowboys' desperate struggles at the receiver position throughout the season, their third-round pick barely saw the field.
The opportunity was there for Dallas to give Tolbert more offensive snaps.
Michael Gallup didn't live up to his contract. It was clear that James Washington was not a viable number two receiver option. And Noah Brown was out of his depth.
Yet the Cowboys were reluctant to field the South Alabama playmaker.
Tolbert was only game-day active eight times this season. He was targeted just three times and made two catches for twelve yards.
As for any rookie, the jump from college to the NFL has been a challenging one for Tolbert. But coming from South Alabama, the jump to the pros is more significant.
Tolbert came to the Cowboys as a big play threat with great athletic ability. However, it never materialized in Dallas.
But the Cowboys should not give up on him after a lackluster rookie season.
Expecting a third-round draft pick from South Alabama to be the solution at wide receiver is too much expectation. And the burden shouldn't fall on him.
A receiver is yet again a glaring need for the Cowboys this off-season. But it doesn't mean Tolbert should be sent packing.
He wasn't the only low-profile receiver to be taken after the second round.
Velus Jones Jr, David Bell, and Danny Gray were the other wideout's taken in the third round. They all had underwhelming seasons. And except for Romeo Doubs, there wasn't a receiver selected in the rest of the draft that made a real impact on their team.
Tolbert will be 24 years old when he starts his sophomore year. The clock is ticking for sure, but there is no reason why he shouldn't be given another chance.
The Cowboys' wide receiver room is going to go through considerable change this off-season. As well as the offense as a whole. There will be plenty of opportunities for Jalen Tolbert to prove himself in a changing and developing offensive system.
Tolbert has the potential to be an NFL receiver. He showed off his skillset at the college level with two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons with eight touchdowns in each.
The Cowboys need another playmaker. They were exposed for their lack of one in the San Fransico playoff game when Tony Pollard left the game with an injury.
So, to discard Jalen Tolbert as a draft bust less than twelve months into his NFL career is unjustified. He should be given another chance to be a playmaker on this offense.