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The Cowboys made news in the offseason by trading away number one wide receiver Amari Cooper. They added James Washington in free agency, but there was still a glaring need at the position. That thirst may have been quenched with the selection of South Alabama wide receiver Jalen Tolbert with the 88th pick in the 2022 NFL draft. The Cowboys admitted they considered taking him at No. 56 in the second round, but gambled to wait on their next pass.
Tolbert had quite the career at South Alabama, amassing 3,140 receiving yards on 178 catches while adding 22 touchdowns. He followed that up with proving his potential NFL value with a strong week at the 2022 Reese’s Senior Bowl. So what does Tolbert bring to Dallas? Will he provide an immediate impact?
Measurables and Stats
Listed Height: 6-foot-1
Listed Weight: 194 pounds
Jersey Number: 8
Stats (2021): 82 catches, 1,474 yards, 8 touchdowns
Film Study Information:
Games Watched: Louisiana (2021), Georgia Southern (2021), Louisiana-Monroe (2021), Tennessee (2021)
Best Game: Louisiana-Monroe (2021
Worst Game: Louisiana (2021)
Physical Skills Evaluation:
Route Running: Gives hesitation moves leading up to the routes breaking point, helps throw the defensive back off and helps him gain separation. Attacks the defensive backs blindspot when changing direction. Works back to the QB to give him an open throwing window. Wasn’t asked to run a very diverse route tree, so this part of his game will need to develop. Lacks urgency in his breaks. Shows the ability to fight through hand contact during the stem of the route. Doesn’t consistently maintain leverage on 9 routes and can get washed out of bounds.
Blocking: Capable of absorbing contact and redirecting it for a moment, but he won’t sustain his blocks for a very long time. Appears to be more of an extra body than an actual blocker at most times.
Contested Catch Ability: Doesn’t have the upper body strength to absorb contact and secure the catch on goal line slants. Has a good frame, coming in at 6’1 and he is able to extend his arms away from his frame however, his catching ability seems to drop off when he extends them. A lot of his targets were 50/50 throws and it was about 50/50 if he would come up with it. Struggles to optimize body position for contested-catch scenarios.
Beating Press: Has a couple of releases at his disposal and uses them well. Could stand to add a few more releases, but has given no indication he is unable nor that he would have success in adding them.
Long Speed: Ran a 4.49 and it shows on film, won’t burn the defender with his long speed. He came in at the 57th percentile and his 10-yard split was just average as well. Ran a 1.54 here and that is good for the 65th percentile.
Separation: Lacks the top end speed you find in most separators. He is good at finding soft spots in zone and sitting in them, but you will not see him separate from the defensive back often.
Ball Skills: There are a number of drops on his film, a number of them are due to him being unable to fight through contact coming through his back. He is generally in a good position, but you would like to see him handle contact better.
YAC Ability: Capable of making a man or two miss by performing a quick stop and go or jump-cut.
Ball Tracking: Generally gas good hands, saw him have a couple of drops. Struggles to appropriately time up when he should go up for a contested catch. Tracks the ball well on 9 routes.
Versatility: Only took reps as an outside receiver and that is where he projects best for the NFL. He does not have the shiftiness to be in the slot nor is he dynamic enough with the ball in his hands to take reverses.
Has a big frame and will go up and high point the football. Adequate route runner but limited route tree. Has a few releases in his toolbox and uses them well. Can track the ball at a high level but sometimes miss-times his jumps.
Has a number of drops on his film. Hands can be quite questionable at times. Lacks the long speed to separate vertically. Very limited route tree, and will need to be taught to run more. All in all there isn’t a trait for him to hang his hat on and say “this is how I will win in the NFL.” He is a relatively raw player with exciting traits.
Fit with the Cowboys:
Tolbert will compete to be the Cowboys WR3 with free-agent acquisition James Washington. Oddly enough he profiles fairly similar to Washington coming out of college. Most of his wins are from contested catches and won’t win by creating separation. He has a very limited route tree coming out of college. He has a number of concentration drops on film, you would like to see cleaned up.
He offers quite little in terms of yards after the catch, but its not something he hangs his hat on. At worst he makes his way onto the field when Dallas is in 4 wide receiver sets.
Route Running (15)
Beating Press (10)
YAC Ability (10)
Contested Catch Ability (10)
Ball Tracking (10)
Long Speed (10)
Ball Skills (10)
70.15, 4th round player