(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn't until April 26, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Penn State's Mike Gesicki.)
- Name: Mike Gesicki
- Position: Tight End
- College:Penn State
- Height/Weight:6-5 / 242
- Honors:One of three finalists for the 2017 Mackey Award, presented to the nation's best tight end. Second-team All-Big Ten selection as a junior in 2016.
- Key Stat:Gesicki improved his receiving totals in each of his four college seasons and produced a career-high 57 catches for 563 yards and 9 touchdowns as a senior.
Where He's Projected:
It's early, but Gesicki is generally considered one of the top tight ends in the 2018 class and has a chance to be selected in the first three rounds of April's draft. He received an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, where he'll have an opportunity to improve his stock.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
In 2017, Jason Witten played 1,050 of a possible 1,068 offensive snaps. He'll be back for his 16th NFL season at age 36. Could the Cowboys look to the draft to groom someone as his eventual successor? The Cowboys have younger tight ends with potential: Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Rico Gathers, who missed the 2017 season with a head injury. James Hanna has been a solid rotational player for years. Gesicki is a good athlete and a downfield/red zone threat in the passing game, but he needs to work on his blocking – one of Witten's underrated qualities over the years.
- Like many of the tight ends in this draft, Gesicki is a downfield player, little blocker.
- His size is a plus when considering the way he gets open.
- Has a feel for how to run routes and finish plays.
- Quarterback-friendly target at all levels of the field.
- Hands are outstanding. Reliable when it comes to receiving the ball, especially when it's contested.
- He's a get-in-the-way blocker. Actually did a better job at the Senior Bowl than during his time at Penn State. Will need to develop some physical toughness here. Just doesn't have the desired pop to make it work.