Dallas Cowboys Tight Ends: TE Depth Chart After Jason Witten Retirement

jason witten

Getty Jason Witten is returning to the Dallas Cowboys

In somewhat surprising news, the Dallas Cowboys are in the market for a tight end now that Jason Witten is headed to the Monday Night Football booth. While the Cowboys are likely to select a tight end at some point in the draft, here’s a look at the current tight ends on the Cowboys roster courtesy of Our Lads.

Geoff Swam/ Rico Gathers/ Blake Jarwin

Of the group, Rico Gathers may have the most upside, but has done little to prove he can be the Cowboys long-term solution. According to NFL.com, Gathers only has pre-season stats, and has not played during the regular season. Gathers played at Baylor, and has an intriguing basketball background that some of the top NFL tight ends have as well.

Geoff Swaim played in 15 games last season, starting in two contests. Swaim is entering his fourth season, and notched just two catches for 25 yards last season. Here was NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s scouting report on Swaim coming out of Texas.

STRENGTHS: Above average athlete. Willing to stick his face in the mix and block against powerful ends. Has a decent frame and plays to his size.
WEAKNESSES: Very average quickness and separation ability and will need to prove he can make contested catches. Limited in terms of what teams can ask of him.

During the Cowboys pre-draft press conference, the Cowboys spoke glowingly about their current tight end group, even before the Witten news broke. Based on the press conference, Stephen Jones and the Cowboys were obviously expecting Witten to play this season.

As long as Jason Witten wants to play football, I’m betting on Jason. But I think more than that, I think some guys are getting overlooked on this football team. You talk about [Blake] Jarwin, you talk about [Geoff] Swaim. Those are some players that we really have high opinions of. It’s real easy to get lost in the shuffle when you’re playing behind a Hall of Famer like Jason Witten who never wants to come off the field. That’s difficult. When you see them in practice every day, obviously you add Rico [Gathers] to that mix, and we did have [James] Hanna retire. We feel real positive about that spot.

The good news for Cowboys fans is there are a number of quality tight ends still on the board in the draft. Dallas has nine picks heading into Day 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft. With only one tight end selected in the first round, here’s a look at some of the Cowboys options.

Remaining Tight End NFL Draft Prospects for Cowboys

South Dakota’s Dallas Goedert is known as one of the best pass-catching tight ends in this draft class. Here’s how Pro Football Weekly described Goedert’s game.

Highly athletic and natural. Smooth strider as route runner. Runs with ease for such a big man. Quick get-off and release off the line. Should fit a team seeking both an in-line tight end and one who can flex out or go in motion. Long arms. Big frame with a bit of room to grow and get stronger. Above-average to very good physical traits. Deceptively strong. Can help move a pile as a blocker and gain yards as receiver after contact.

Penn State’s Mike Gesicki flashed during Senior Bowl week, making several circus catches. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has him ranked as his top tight end.

Gesicki is a game-changing athlete with the size, speed and instincts to step right into an NFL offense and make plays. He is versatile enough to line up in the slot and creates mismatches against nickel covermen. He might not be a great blocker, but tight ends don’t get Pro Bowl votes for opening holes in the run game.

Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews is another player that the Cowboys could consider. Zierlein provides a brief scouting report on Andrews.

Andrews is a former wideout who plays with a receiver’s mentality in a tight end’s body. He is a pass-catcher with a deft feel for route adjustments and operating in space against zone coverage. Andrews is a big, reliable target who doesn’t need a spacious catch window to haul it in. Despite his size, he lacks the desire and fundamentals as a blocker which will hurt his standing with some teams. He should be able to find early catches and production as a solid pass-catching tight end in the league.

NC State’s Jaylen Samuels is a really intriguing prospect given he is a Swiss Army knife. Samuels lined up at tight end, running back, fullback and wide receivers during his time at NC State. Some additional players the Cowboys could look at later in the draft: Indiana’s Ian Thomas, Stanford’s Dalton Schultz, Miami’s Christopher Herndon and Notre Dame’s Durham Smythe.

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