Dallas Cowboys: The most important traits for a new receiver

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Wide receivers Cole Beasley
ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 24: Wide receivers Cole Beasley /

If the Dallas Cowboys bring in a new receiver or two this offseason, these are the important traits he must have…

The Dallas Cowboys are looking to improve their passing game next season and one way to achieve that goal is by bringing in new blood at the receiver position. Some are calling for the dismissal of Dez Bryant while others are hoping to trade Terrance Williams.

While neither of those moves are very likely to happen this offseason, bringing in a new player either via draft or free agency is extremely likely. Since all receivers are not created in the same mold, we will discuss what types of traits the Dallas Cowboys need at the receiver position.


Headlining nearly everyone’s list for receiver traits is speed. As in top speed. As in deep speed. Someone to take the top off the defense and open things up for others. Last season, opponents dared the Cowboys to beat them deep and neither Dez nor Williams made them pay.

The result was a clogged box and small passing windows – bad news for a quarterback who’s not overwhelmingly accurate.

If the Cowboys can find a receiver that can get deep, opponents will have to adjust. This will open up things for Ezekiel Elliott in the running game as well as open up the middle for Cole Beasley and Jason Witten (two players who were absolutely blanketed last season).

Level of importance (1-5): 4


In past years, the value for a big receiver has been high. Every team in the NFL coveted a 6’3” 210lbs playmaker with rocket speed and top-notch leaping ability. Ability to actually play the position, catch the ball, and run routes were almost secondary.

A backlash against the big receiver has now begun as many physically-impressive specimens have flamed out while the not-so-gifted specimens have thrived. It turns out being a great receiver is more than just raw ability.

Just be careful not to swing too far the other way…

The Dallas Cowboys cannot afford to go too hard in either direction. While size may have been overvalued in years past, it’s still an important trait. Especially since Dallas is stacked at slot receiver and is only looking for an outside X or Z receiver.

Small receivers tend to get washed out on the sideline and can be difficult targets to hit for a developing passer. Speed, running good routes, and creating separation may be more important, but size cannot be overlooked because it makes up for so many other deficiencies.

Level of importance (1-5): 3

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Catch Radius

Perhaps the most overlooked trait of a receiver is the catch radius he provides. Can a receiver leap and pull in a ball two feet over his head? Can he pull one off the tops of his shoes? How about stretch forward or backward on slant? These are questions that must be answered. And for the Dallas Cowboys, these must be answered in the affirmative.

As stated many times before, Dak Prescott is blessed with many skills – pinpoint accuracy is not one of them. Bringing in a receiver who can catch any ball remotely close to him is a must. Size helps but it’s no guarantee. Just like speed and separation help but they are also no guarantee the receiver can pull in an off-target pass.

Level of importance (1-5): 5

If the Dallas Cowboys can find a player with high-level ability in two of these three categories they will be on the right track. So while the draft seems pretty stacked at receiver this year, Dallas needs a very specific type for their roster.

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Above all they need a player who is a viable deep threat on the outside who has a generous catch radius. Routes, size, and leaping ability are all important, but they’re pointless if that other criteria (speed and radius) isn’t met.