Could Jeremy Sprinkle move from afterthought to key Cowboys piece at TE?

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The Dallas Cowboys came into the off-season with very few holes on the offensive side of the ball. One of the positions that did need a bit of depth was tight end after losing Blake Bell in free agency after one year with the club. While the team has Sean McKeon from last year’s UDFA class and two more from this year’s class, a veteran addition was sought. The team addressed these concerns with the signing of veteran TE Jeremy Sprinkle.

Coming over form the Washington Football Team, where he spent his first four seasons, Sprinkle takes something away from a rival and could benefit the Cowboys. Sprinkle isn’t likely to be a big part of the offense, but he might find his role as a jack of all trades in Dallas.

Our 2021 Player Profile Countdown continues with the third tight end on the depth chart.

Background Detail

Position: TE Age: 27 Height: 6-foot-5 Weight: 252 pounds Hometown: Pine Bluff, Arkansas High School: White Hall College: Arkansas NFL Draft: Fifth round pick by the Washington Football Team in 2017 (154th overall) Acquired: Signed as free agent on April 7, 2021

Pro Stats

2020 Stats Games Played: 16 Receptions/Targets: 1/3 Receiving Yards: 6 Receiving Touchdowns: 0 Career Stats Games Played: 59 Receptions/Targets: 34/55 Receiving Yards: 301 Receiving Touchdowns: 3

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Player Profile

Sprinkle was drafted by the WFT in the fifth round of the 2017 draft and while he hasn't emerged as a threat in the passing game, he does add value as a blocker and on special teams. Those were the roles played by Bell last season and are crucial for the team, even with Blake Jarwin returning to battle Dalton Schultz for the lead role. The Cowboys have a strong one-two punch but there is a possibility that Sprinkle can emerge as more than just an afterthought. Coming out of Arkansas he was seen by draftniks such as Dane Brugler as a player who could develop into a starter eventually. Could that talent emerge in a system that was able to make Schultz a Pro Bowl candidate in 2020? After all, can a player who needed time to develop really be judged based on how well he performed in an offense that dropped from 20th to 28th to 30th to 32nd in DVOA since he's joined the league? Washington was inept. Dallas certainly isn't that. Sprinkle did have an admirable season as a receiving option in 2019 when he caught 26 balls, including one for a touchdown. He's hardly a lock to make the roster, but Sprinkle's prowess on special teams will also give him an advantage to stick around.

2017 Scouting Report: Dane Brugler

STRENGTHS: Well-built for the position with ideal frame, length and hand size...long-strider who picks up speed as he goes...smooth hips and body control to be efficient out of his breaks...leverages routes to keep spacing in the middle of the field...stays focused in traffic to finish catches...physical to the ball and looks to box out...asset as a blocker...sets wide and has the foot quickness to protect the edge in pass pro...aggressively uses his hands to lock down, relocate and knock back rushers...great job on combo blocks to seal, detach and pick up the linebacker...blocks pissed off, running his feet and looking to bury his target...lined up all over the formation in Arkansas’ offense...graduated with a degree in recreation and sport management (May 2016)...holds the school-record for career touchdowns by a tight end (11). WEAKNESSES: Leggy athlete and needs to tighten his route-running and stay compact at the stem...predictable patterns and needs to better set-up defenders...only average speed and won’t consistently create separation vs. NFL linebackers or safeties...limited after the catch and not a big play threat – only one catch of 30+ yards as a senior...blocking style is more effort than brute power and needs to continue to develop his strength...hands tend to wander and he sacrifices blocking technique for the kill shot, falling off blocks and ending up on the ground...hindered by a left ankle injury (Oct. 2016)...questionable character after he admitted to shoplifting eight items during a Belk shopping spree where he was given a $450 gift card as one of the perks of the bowl activities – suspended for the Belk Bowl, the final game of his career...zero career 100-yard receiving games and posted more than four catches only once in his 50 games played. SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Arkansas, Sprinkle lined up mostly inline in the Hogs pro-style offense, also seeing snaps out wide – holds the school record for career touchdowns by a tight end, but his reception production was underwhelming. While he isn’t on the same level athletically or as a route runner as HunterHenry (2016 second round pick of the Los Angeles Chargers), Sprinkle isn’t far behind and is a much better blocker. He flashes violence in his hands with the combative mentality to bully defenders in the run game and hold up in space as a pass protector. He requires route-running refinement and doesn’t have the explosive qualities that will scare defenses downfield, but Sprinkle offers receiving upside and can be a weapon in the red zone. Although he will be better known for his mystifying shoplifting decision prior to the Belk Bowl, Sprinkle has the size and skill-set to develop into a better pro than college player – ideal No. 2 tight end candidate who can evolve into a starter down the road.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi. This profile is part of our countdown series to the regular season. For the full 90-man roster, go here.

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