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Have the Cowboys done enough to shore up the tight end position in 2021?
Last season the Dallas Cowboys lost their best pass-catching tight end in Blake Jarwin to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 1. Lucky for the Cowboys they had the lesser-known tight end, Dalton Schultz, to pick up the slack in Jarwin’s absence. This season Jarwin is returning and is looking to show that he’s worth the new contract he received in 2020. The Cowboys also brought in another blocking tight end, Jeremy Sprinkle, who is coming in filling the role left by Blake Bell who returned to the Kansas City Chiefs. They also have undrafted free agent Sean McKeon (Michigan) from 2020, and Artayvious Lynn (TCU), Nick Eubanks (Michigan), and Nick Ralston (Louisiana) from this year.
That’s a lot of bodies in the room. with the young guys hoping to show they have the talent and skills needed to perform at the next level. In the case of Jarwin, Schultz, and Sprinkle, they have that ability to perform at the NFL level, but the big questions mark is can Jarwin come back and be the threat that he was back in 2019. There are also the questions about Schultz living up to the season he had in 2020, and Sprinkle’s ability to be the force in the blocking game they need from the position. Then you have the undrafted tight ends wanting to prove they can block at the NFL level, and make plays in the passing game.
What the Cowboys have in Jarwin and Schultz should allow them to have a serious competition behind them and not be afraid to keep a developmental tight end, either on the roster or on the practice squad. The plan could be to see if either McKeon, Lynn, or Eubanks could beat out Sprinkle, but they will need to develop their blocking skills quickly to do so. McKeon was able to do that some last year. Another avenue to make the roster could be to perform well on special teams to be out Sprinkle.
You’ll notice that Ralston was left off the list as he’s more of a jack-of-all-trades player. He split his time playing at fullback and tight end at Arizona St., so the Cowboys will have to figure out which positions a better fit for him and right now that could be at fullback where they need help in short-yardage situations. So for the time being let’s label him a fullback.
The rest of the group in training camp is going to be very interesting. We’ll get to see if Jarwin’s fully ready to go after his injury, if they can have two pass-catching threats at the position that can be on the field at the same time, and if any of these younger tight ends are able to beat out the veteran blocking tight end Sprinkle.