5 Z-receiver targets for Cowboys in 2023 draft

The Z wide receiver can be found in all offenses and is a versatile threat with one key trait, speed. These receivers typically line up outside on the same side as the tight end or Y and face less press coverage. This often leads to more opportunities to win downfield. Size is not a huge factor here as athleticism and the ability to get open are the most preferred traits.

Ja’Marr Chase, Stefan Diggs and Chris Godwin are some of the best in the league at this role. Veteran T.Y. Hilton played this role for Dallas in 2022 and while CeeDee Lamb often plays here as well, Lamb is best out of the slot. Hilton will likely not be on the roster in 2023 as he was a second-half rental, so here are five draft targets to partner with Lamb for the long term.

1: Jordan Addison, 6-foot, 175 pounds, USC

Addison started his career as a top recruit and the No. 1 weapon for current Steeler and former Pitt QB Kenny Pickett. He then moved to USC with HC Lincoln Riley to become QB Caleb Williams top target and continued to excel.

Because of his lean frame and play style, Addison has garnered many comparisons to current Eagles receiver and former Heisman winner DeVonta Smith. Like Smith, he has shown improved hands and above-average separation ability, but excels because of his coverage identification and technically-sound route running. However, Addison lacks the play strength to compete in contested situations, leaving a lot to be desired in one-on-one, press situations.

Addison’s ability as a route runner and his after-catch potential pairs perfectly with new OC Brian Schottenheimer’s preference to get receivers the ball on the move. He would line up outside as the Z receiver to get free releases and use he separations skills in order to get open and make plays downfield.

2: Jalin Hyatt, 6-foot, 185 pounds, Tennessee

Hyatt was a key contributor to the Volunteers’ early-season run until QB Hendon Hooker went down. His big-play ability is arguably the best in the class and some of the best in recent memory as his elite top-end speed and overall fluidity allow him to shake defenders or simply blow by them.

Similar to Addison, Hyatt is lean and lacks contested-catch ability. However, his is a smooth operator who is able to quickly flip his hips at the top of routes and create space for himself. His ability after the catch and to get off the line will be up there with some of the best in the league, making him a perfect fit in Schottenheimer’s system.

His struggles come from simple inconsistencies in his game.

In 21 games between his sophomore and junior years he had 8 drops on 125 targets. While these numbers are not abhorrently bad, it showcases parts of Hyatt’s games that need development. If Hyatt can correct this, he can become the next best deep threat to come through the NFL.

3: Rashee Rice 6-foot, 200 pounds, SMU

Rice is built a bit bigger than a typical Z receiver but his play style fits exactly what is required from the role. He hangs his hat on his athleticism and big-play ability as he can beat defenses at all three levels. He also adds plus ability in contested-catch situations as well as fluid and sudden route running.

Where Rice falters is ball security. With 22 career drops and an additional three fumbles this past season, Rice will need to fix these issues should he want to become a legit weapon at the next level. He also has room to improve as a route runner, often relying on his athleticism to separate.

Rice will potentially be the most intriguing option on Day 2 for Dallas. His size is something this front office covets from their receivers while his speed is something this offense is in desperate need of. A trio of Lamb, Michael Gallup and Rice bring a lot of big play ability and size to the table.

4: Kayshon Boutte, 6-foot, 200 pounds, LSU

Boutte burst onto the scene as a promising true freshman but came back to earth with back-to-back lackluster campaigns. Given the Joe Burrow sized hole at LSU, this was a surprise to few, however questions raised about his game were left unanswered.

Boutte suffers from the drops bug that has plagued many Cowboys receivers as of late. This has been a consistent issue so it will need to be worked on early in his NFL career. He also lacks ideal catch radius and ability in contested situations the next level requires, but these physical downsides can be hidden.

Similar to many on this list, Boutte is a big-play threat with the speed to take the top off a defense but also the athleticism to make plays after the catch. With new concepts being brought into the offense, a player such as Boutte is an option to watch out for on Day 2.

5: Rakim Jarrett, 6-foot, 195 pounds, Maryland

Jarrett is a former five-star recruit who decided to stay home and attend one of the best schools at churning out NFL receivers. He quickly showed why he earned such high status as he showcased NFL-caliber IQ and playmaking skills early in his career. He never posted the elite production expected from top recruits but possesses a skillset that is extremely valuable in the modern NFL.

Jarrett is an inside-out deep threat who can make plays with the ball in his hands. He possesses great long speed while also being an above-average athlete in short areas. He is not a big receiver but has a compact frame that allows for some running back-esc plays after the catch.

In a similar vein to many of his classmates, Jarrett struggles with drops as well as a limited catch radius and play strength in contested situations. However, as a Z receiver these cons can be hidden through intelligent play design.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire