Yesterday the Cowboys made a roster move at backup tight end, releasing rookie George Bryan and claiming former fifth-round selection John Nalbone off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks.
Nalbone has bounced around the league, on and off practice squads, only appearing in two games, both with the Dolphins in 2010. I was able to study the four preseason games he played with Cincinnati in 2011 and here is what I observed against the Lions, Jets, Panthers and Colts:
The majority of Nalbone's action took place in the fourth quarter, but in the final preseason game he played in the third. Nalbone is not what Jason Garrett would call a "Y," an on-the-line tight end. He was used on the line, but the majority of his blocks were not at the point of attack, but instead on the back side of the play.
Nalbone showed good initial quickness off the snap, but was more of a catch blocker than one that comes off with a flat back and gets movement. I only saw one play where he was bad on the back side, against the Lions when he took a bad angle on the cut-off block. When he did make contact, his feet would stop then restart, but he did keep them moving.
He's not a powerful player, but works to sustain his blocks. He was used against the Colts as a "wham" guy on the edge, but his path was off balance and he bounced off his block. Later Nalbone came back and had a nice seal block on the edge that allowed the ball to get to the outside. The majority of the time he is a square blocker, but again, he has to fight to sustain.
Nalbone will be used on the line, but will also be flexed. He shows some initial quickness off the snap and up the field, can get to the flat quickly and snap his head around. I saw two catches in the flat, but also a drop. He was able to adjust for the ball between the linebackers with men on his back for a catch. I didn't see any opportunities for a run after catch.
He was used in pass protection one time against the Colts and gave up a sack and fumble against defensive end John Chick, who now plays in Jacksonville.
My overall thoughts on the move: No problem with it at all for camp, because I really didn't feel like Bryan was going to help in camp, anyways. I studied him quite a bit before the draft and I didn't see a blocker or a player that could help in the passing game because I didn't think he was athletic enough. His best game in my view was the East-West game, but even then I had my questions.
Nalbone has athletic ability but he is not that point-of-attack blocker that the Cowboys are still hunting since losing Martellus Bennett.
This move is more about getting rid of a player who can't play for one that appears to have a better skill set.