The Cowboys lightly used seventh round draft pick from a season ago, Geoff Swaim, will be given ample opportunity to break out this season.
The Dallas Cowboys are loaded with topics of conversation this summer. Will Tony Romo stay healthy? What about Dez? What are reasonable expectations for rookie RB Ezekiel Elliot? What degree of terrible will the defense be?
While those are all important (and entertaining) issues to discuss, there are a few more roster questions flying under the radar. One of which is how Geoff Swaim progresses in his second season…
Geoff Swaim came to the Dallas Cowboys as a full-fledged “also drafted”. As in, “The Dallas Cowboys made numerous potentially high-impact picks in the draft and then they also drafted a guy called Geoff Swaim in the seventh round.”
Needless to say, the former UT Longhorn’s 13 total collegiate catches didn’t do much to excite the masses. Especially since 2015 was the year the Cowboys drafted the incomparable Randy Gregory in the second round.
Nope, Geoff Swaim flew pretty far under the radar.
The depth chart and roster numbers didn’t look good for Swaim from Day 1. All-Pro and future Hall of Famer, Jason Witten, was the unquestioned lead dog. Former second round pick Gavin Escobar all but had a guaranteed role. And James Hanna was the best blocking TE on the roster. There just didn’t appear to be enough room for a no-frills #4 TE on the team.
Geoff Swaim wasn’t just missing out on the “love” from Cowboys Nation but he was straight-up getting ignored. Even yours truly, the guy who loves to dream about the long-shots, was less than excited to talk about that seemingly wasted seventh round pick they had to have.
But that was until we saw Geoff Swaim on the field.
Geoff Swaim shinned early in minicamps. The guy with 13 career catches and less than 100 total receiving yards suddenly looked like a viable receiving option. Swaim had a good burst off the line and he showed good field awareness and surprising athleticism down the field.
He didn’t look like the plodding blocker many experts made him out to be. Perhaps it was his stat sheet that led so many to misevaluate for former Longhorn. Maybe it was the limited opportunities or lack of relevant film that prompted the one-dimensional label to be thrust upon him. Whatever it was, it appeared to be wrong as Swaim showed all-around game on the practice field.
Advanced analytics would support what Geoff Swaim showed on the field. pSPARQ is a tool used to measure overall player athleticism relative to the position played. In the 2015 NFL Draft, Geoff Swaim was #10 in pSPARQ. Compared with his newly joined NFL peers, Swaim scored in the 49.3 percentile.
That may sound wildly average, but considering it’s compared to other established NFL TEs, most of whom were drafted much higher than Swaim, it’s anything but.
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Now, 2015 would go on to be an expectedly pedestrian year for Geoff Swaim (26 total snaps). Buried behind Witten, Escobar, and Hanna what could really be expected of the rookie seventh rounder?
Not much, really. But that could soon change – even with the same trio of TEs standing ahead of him on the depth chart.
Gavin Escobar, James Hanna, and Jason Witten all remain on the roster. Jason Witten will remain at the top of the depth chart for the foreseeable future and James Hanna was recently inked to a fresh three year deal. It’s Gavin Escobar who’s sitting on the hot seat these days.
Escobar, the former second round pick bust, will likely start the season on the sideline. After tearing his Achilles late in the 2015 season, Escobar will take time to make it back giving a player like Geoff Swaim an opportunity to permanently supplant him.
If Geoff Swaim can establish himself as a younger, cheaper, and more athletic option, the Cowboys may never even go back to Escobar. With Jason Witten and James Hanna all but guaranteed to get the majority of snaps this season, Geoff Swaim will need to make an impression in training camp and carry it over early in the season.
If Geoff Swaim can do what is expected of him early, he could very well earn a long-term roster spot on the Cowboys as a versatile H-back and part-time fullback. Swaim is never going to be a Pro Bowler in this league but he very well could carve out an all-important niche on this team and that quest begins in the coming weeks.