With the start of the Dallas Cowboys’ 2021 training camp less than two weeks away, we’re all anticipating various position battles to be decided in the near future. While many spots on offense already seemed decided, there are still a few big competitions to watch for starting jobs and key backup roles.
There’s naturally big intrigue at backup quarterback. In three of the last six seasons, we’ve seen the importance of QB2 on full display as Dallas has suffered major injuries with Tony Romo and Dak Prescott. While Garrett Gilbert is the early favorite to hold the job in 2021, it’s a narrow lead and there’s plenty of opportunity for Ben DiNucci and Cooper Rush to make things interesting.
Many will be watching the bottom half of the wide receiver depth chart. How will Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, and 4th-Round rookie Simi Fehoko stack up against each other in camp and what could this mean for their 2021 targets?
How about on the offensive line? While we wouldn’t anticipate Connor Williams or Tyler Biadasz losing their starting jobs, former 3rd-Round pick Connor McGovern could be a contender. There should also be some good battles among the backups, such as at offensive tackle between Ty Nsekhe, Brandon Knight, Terence Steele, and rookie Josh Ball.
Truthfully, there’s something to watch at any position. But for the 2021 offense, there’s no better answer to this question than what we’re looking forward to from the tight ends.
No starting job is more uncertain right now than at tight end. Blake Jarwin ascended to the role after Jason Witten took off for Vegas, but he only got to enjoy it for about one half after a season-ending knee injury.
Dalton Schultz stepped in and, surprisingly after two quiet seasons, was one of the more productive tight ends in the league. His stats could’ve gotten him to the Pro Bowl in some seasons, but the NFC was particularly loaded the TE talent in 2020.
Dallas handed the starting job to Jarwin last year because he’d clearly outshined Schultz previously. But will that be the case in this year’s camp as one comes off a major injury and with the other having more experience and confidence than ever before?
This is obviously a good problem for the Cowboys. At worst, Dallas should have a strong one-two punch at TE and be able to work Jarwin back slowly if needed.
Even the rest of the TE depth chart could offer some surprises. While the Cowboys did add veteran Jeremy Sprinkle to replace Blake Bell as a blocker, there’s also 2nd-year prospect Sean McKeon and some new UDFAs who could contend for roster spots. McKeon’s athleticism could lead to some highlight plays in the preseason, and who knows where that could lead?
While competitions could heat up at other positions in the coming weeks, none feels hotter going into camp than at tight end. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are both fighting to be the starter in 2021 and have good cases for it. And futures are also on the line as Dalton has an expiring contract while Blake’s could easily be discarded in 2022 for cap relief.
One of them could run away with the job when the actions starts on July 21st. But as it currently stands, the battle between Jarwin and Schultz should be a close one for this year’s training camp.