(Editor's Note: The staff of DallasCowboys.com is currently previewing the depth chart at each position on the Cowboys' roster. The biggest remaining variable in determining that depth chart is the NFL Draft, which begins April 30. This series will identify five potential draft picks who could affect the depth chart at each position. Today, we continue with tight end.)
IRVING, Texas – Sure, the Cowboys seem to draft a tight end in the second round every few years, but it seems unlikely – not impossible, but unlikely – that they'd pull the trigger at the position anywhere before Day 3, given their other needs and an overall weak class of prospects.
Jason Witten is still going strong in what will be his age 33 season and pass-catching tight end Gavin Escobar is entering his third year with remaining promise. But 2015 will see backup James Hanna in the final season of his rookie contract, so the Cowboys could be on the lookout for a blocker with athletic traits that warrant a developmental pick.
Here's a look at five prospects in the early, middle and late rounds:
- Clive Walford, Miami (Fla.) –Jerry Jones and the front office are wary of drafting solely on need. With pure value in mind, Walford is generally ranked among the best tight end prospects because he does everything adequate to well: route-running, catching, blocking. The Mackey Award finalist didn't run the 40 at his Pro Day because of a hamstring injury but has impressed teams enough to warrant a Day 2 pick.
- MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois –The 6-2, 251-pounder has certainly proven his receiving abilities at the college level. He led all tight ends at all levels of college football with 81 catches and 13 touchdowns last season. With Witten and Escobar already on the roster, though, you'd think the Cowboys would want a more developed blocker. But Pruitt would be an intriguing project, and he could be available as late as the fifth round.
- Ben Koyack, Notre Dame – They might as well be calling Notre Dame "Tight End U" at this point, given the success the Irish have had producing NFL talent at the position. Koyack is expected to go in the middle rounds, which would make him the sixth Notre Dame tight end in the NFL, alongside names like Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Fasano and Tyler Eifert. Koyack is developed enough as a blocker to make him an interesting option.
- Blake Bell, Oklahoma – Standing 6-6 and 250 pounds, the "Belldozer" looked like a linebacker playing quarterback at Oklahoma. After losing his starting job he moved to tight end as a senior and started eight games for the Sooners, scoring four touchdowns on 16 catches. Bell's a developmental guy who will need time to polish up his route-running and blocking technique. The physical tools are there, though, which means he has a chance to go off the board in the middle rounds.
- Nick Boyle, Delaware – Boyle drew praise at the Senior Bowl for his blocking prowess, lining up at fullback as well as tight end. The 6-4, 270-pounder was a productive four-year starter for the Blue Hens. He isn't an elite athlete, but he does enough well in addition to blocking to warrant a Day 2 or 3 pick.