(Editor's Note: With the offseason in full swing, the focus is now shifting to the 2016 season, where the Cowboys have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL. Not only do the Cowboys face five playoff teams but many of the top players in football. So the writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys. Today, we continue the list with Cowboys tight end Jason Witten.)
Name: Jason Witten
Position: Tight End
2015 with Cowboys:
Witten led the offense in catches (77 for 713 yards and 3 touchdowns) for the eighth time since 2003. Starting all 16 games for the 12th time in his 13 years in Dallas, Witten only missed seven offensive snaps the entire 2015 season.
What's the Deal:
The 10-time Pro Bowler remains a focal point in the passing game after all these years. Last November he surpassed Bob Lilly on the franchise's all-time list of consecutive games played, which currently stands at 203 and counting. He also became the 12th player in NFL history (and only the second tight end ever) to reach 1,000 career catches.
Watching Witten catch passes last season from three quarterbacks not named Tony Romo was a different sight, to say the least. Romo is returning healthy from last year's collarbone injuries, and he'll once again rely on Witten in his 11th season as the starting quarterback. Dez Bryant's return from foot and ankle injuries should also create room for Witten in the passing game. And, as always, Witten will also be a willing blocker in the running game for first-round pick Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys' running backs.
Bryan Broaddus Scouting Report:
- One of the most respected players to ever wear the Star for the Dallas Cowboys. A humble person and player that has always been committed to preparation and hard work. It is rare that he takes a short cut or the easy way out. Has been a clutch crunch time player his entire career.
- Has slowed down some over the years speed wise and it is noticeable with his yards after catch. Doesn't avoid or break tackles like he once did.
- Hands and ability to catch in them are still outstanding. One of the best when it comes to adjusting to the ball on the move. His catch radius has always been large and if the ball is anywhere near him, whether it is with one or two hands, he will find a way to haul it in.
- Has had to make more contested catches in the last two seasons due to the fact that he doesn't separate like he once did.
- Where he has made up for this decline in speed in the passing game is with his willingness to become a fierce point of attack blocker. He has made a positive contribution on off-tackle and outside runs when it comes to setting the edge.
- Can still win one-on-one or when paired with the tackles. Playing strength and leverage is still good and he is still able to get movement at the point of attack. Has excelled as a second-level blocker as well when called on for draws and screens. Has found ways to redefine himself with different roles in the offense.
- Still strives to be the best player on the offense and that will never change. Continues to find ways to win with hard work and smarts. Not be elite but still one of the most complete tight ends in the league. Even though the skills might be slipping, still can be productive and clutch when the team needs him.
The writers of DallasCowboys.com have ranked the Top 50 players expected to be on the field this season, including the Cowboys.