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Roster Rundown: Hanna's Role Mostly As Blocker In 2013

Posted Feb 3, 2014


Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2014 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features tight end James Hanna.)

Name: James Hanna
Position: Tight End
Height/Weight: 6-4 / 250
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Oklahoma

Key stat: Hanna’s biggest game of the season came in Week 2 against the Chiefs, when he hauled in four catches for 20 yards.

Contract Status: Signed through 2015.

2013 Impact: Of a season’s of disappointments, this was right up there at the top for me. After what I had observed from Hanna in the latter part of the 2012 season, I was almost positive that he would have been more of a factor weekly than he was. Even the balls that went in his direction, he just didn’t appear to have the ability to do much with them. Every pass was a check off or flat pass which never allowed him to get up the field to take advantage of his run after catch. If there was a positive side to his game, as the season wore on, he did a much better job as a point of attack blocker and you could see that he was working well with Tyron Smith and Doug Free on the edges. He was able to do more than just run with his man but was actually able to get push and movement which allowed DeMarco Murray some options in what direction he wanted to run the ball in. There were times during his rookie season where you would see him get flatten out along the line and it made the tackle and back’s reads off and there was indecision there. Each week, Hanna had a role as a core special teamer. Other than Dewayne Harris and Phillip Tanner, he was the only offensive player that was involved on the coverage teams. His work on teams is not at the level of Harris and Tanner but his size and athletic ability does provide a fit in several areas. 

Where He Fits: Will be interesting to see where Hanna does fit in this offense with Gavin Escobar getting more opportunities down the stretch in the passing game. Before Escobar was drafted, I felt like he had a chance to be that nice compliment to Jason Witten in the “12” personnel. His hands and athletic ability are his strengths plus he has developed in a serviceable blocker that can improve. He will continue to play on special teams but the promise that I had for him before the 2013 season, has now been replaced with question marks and that I didn’t expect.

Writers' Analysis:

Rowan Kavner: Hanna’s stat line from 2013 looks eerily similar to the year prior. On one hand, it was possible after emerging late in the 2012 season and appearing to be next in line on the depth chart behind Jason Witten at training camp that he’d take a noticeable leap in 2013. On the other, the Cowboys drafted a second-round tight end in Gavin Escobar that they valued as a pass catcher. Instead, he didn’t really take a step back or forward in the passing game and was actually used more as a blocker. He got better at that throughout the year. After finishing with eight catches for 86 yards in 2012, he followed that up with 12 catches for 73 yards last season. Hanna’s still in search of his first receiving touchdown. With Escobar entering his second season and the Cowboys likely wanting to get him even more involved in the passing game next year, finding a lot of targets in the future for Hanna may prove to be difficult. 

>>View photos of James Hanna from the 2013 season.

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