Dallas Cowboys: How much did the TE position improve this offseason?

Blake Jarwin #89 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Blake Jarwin #89 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images) /

Even though the Dallas Cowboys lost future Hall of Famer Jason Witten this offseason, their tight end corps looks to take a huge step forward. Here’s why…

Addition by subtraction is a tough sell when the subtracted player is a high character legend like Jason Witten, but that is exactly the situation the Dallas Cowboys are in right now heading into 2020.

For as great as Jason Witten has been for the Cowboys over the years, he was clearly becoming a progress stopper to developing prospects Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. And with Witt now playing ball in Oakland, the stage has been set for the two understudies to step up in a big way.

Blake Jarwin clearly stands to gain the most. The 25-year-old pass-catcher from Oklahoma State has been a project of the Dallas Cowboys for over three years. His steady progression and knack for the big play have been tantalizing for those who want to see more opportunities for the 6-foot-5, 260 lb tight end.

Jarwin was on the verge of breakout after the 2018 season, but Witten’s unretirement meant Jarwin would be pushed back down to TE2 once again. But even in the backup role Jarwin improved as a player. His blocking progressed ever-so-slightly and his receiving ability took the next step.

Despite taking fewer snaps in 2019, Jarwin’s receiving totals improved. Jarwin’s 8.9 yards per target last season were amongst the best in the league last year and markedly better than Witten’s 6.4 yards/target the same season. In fact, it’s more than Witten ever had in his 16-year career.

While Jarwin isn’t near the blocker Witten was, he’s a superior down-field threat and has the ceiling to be one of the better seam weapons in the NFL.


Dalton Schultz has been tasked with picking up the slack as a blocker. Schultz has had fairly limited opportunities to shine buried at TE3 and usually only comes in in obvious running downs. Pro Football Focus graded his blocking better than both Jarwin AND Witten last season, so it stands to reason he should be able to step up into a bigger role as TE2 and cover the loss of Witten quite well.

Entering Year 3, Schultz is positioned nicely for a breakout. The TE position is notoriously nuanced and difficult to learn. Even coming from a great program at Stanford, it was clear Dalton needed work when he first joined the team. But with added strength and experience under his belt, he’s likely to be better in 2020 than almost all options in the upcoming draft.

The Dallas Cowboys should feel optimistic about the tight end position in 2020 for a few reasons:

  1. Jarwin is a better pass-catcher than Witten.
  2. Dalton is a better blocker that Witten.
  3. Both are still developing and under the age of 26.

Rounding out the depth chart is Blake Bell. The 28-year-old is now the OG of the bunch and as a former player under defensive line coach Jim Tomsula (back in San Fran), he’s a stable entity in the blocking portion of the game. Bell could pass Schultz on the depth chart as the primary blocking TE, but if Schultz can develop as an all-around TE, he should be able to lock down a decent role on this offense.

Next. Trading for Jamal Adams could be a big problem for Dallas. dark

It’s going to be fun to see this offense open up with Blake Jarwin taking the bulk of the snaps at TE this season. By lining up wide and stretching defenses, he should be able to provide more big plays down field and open up more opportunities for Zeke to run inside as well.

  • Published on 04/07/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 04/07/2020 at 12:52 PM