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Will Witten's Departure Lead To More Production?


(Editor's Note: With the NFL Draft fast approaching, is taking a comprehensive look at each position on the roster: free agency additions, departures, and what the draft might hold. Today, we begin the series with wide receiver.)

Need Meter: (1 lowest, 5 highest): 3

Depth Chart: The second Jason Witten era has officially ended, and Dallas is moving on from a legend in hopes that they can inject some youthful talent into the position. With Witten off to Las Vegas presumably to finish his career with the Raiders, the Cowboys extended Blake Jarwin with a new four-year deal. Jarwin has only started 11 games in his three seasons in Dallas, but some believe that his potential has been hidden while playing behind an aging Witten. The 25-year-old Jarwin recorded 365 yards and three touchdowns in 2019. That production is almost certainly going to rise if Jarwin stays healthy. He surely has more acceleration speed than Witten showed last season, but will he prove to be nearly as reliable?

Behind him will be 23-year-old Dalton Schultz, who is also likely to get an increase in snaps due to Witten's absence. The Cowboys have not had a Pro Bowl tight end not named Jason Witten since 1995.

Prospect Preview: If an elite, sure-thing tight end were projected in this draft the Cowboys may very well have considered using an early round pick on one, but traditional tight ends are used sparingly in many modern college offenses so the evaluation process can be difficult. Cole Kmet out of Notre Dame has shown next-level playmaking skills and may be the first tight end off the board in the second round. Washington's Hunter Bryant's smaller size may push him to the third round, but he's expected to be a legitimate factor in the passing game, while Brycen Hopkins will likely be available in the late-rounds but projects to be an excellent blocking tight end.

Memorable Pick: No one, including the Cowboys, could have predicted when Dallas selected Jason Witten in the third round of the 2003 Draft that he would go on to have the career that he's had, although Jerry Jones will be quick to tell you that they did have a first-round grade for Witten in their draft preparation. It was also the rookie season of the undrafted Tony Romo and the two would find their footing on the Cowboys roster before flourishing together. Witten would continue his reliable play after Romo's retirement. He finished his time in Dallas with 11 Pro Bowl appearances and as one of the most revered Cowboys of all-time.

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