In the sixth round of last year’s draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers even though he never played a down of football in college or high school. Gathers didn’t get any action in his rookie campaign, but the Cowboys still believe he can contribute to their team in the near future.
Cowboys head coach said a year on the practice squad was very beneficial to Gathers, and he feels Gathers is ready to play tight end in the NFL.
“You think about where he was, coming from last year,” Garrett said, via the Star-Telegram. “He hadn’t played football since junior high, and he had done a really good job working out, trying to understand and get better at the fundamentals of the game away from here, but once he got here, it’s a different story. He came to work every day, and you saw him get better. He’s a very different player in all ways. He’s grown up in a lot of different ways that will help him become a better player this year.”
Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan has also expressed confidence in Gathers and was very pleased by his performance at the team’s first minicamp practice.
“It’s night and day for [Gathers] in a good way from last year,” Linehan said. “When you know what you’re doing and you’ve got your body in football shape, it’s amazing what you can do, and that’s the biggest difference from where he was a year ago until now.”
Along with linebacker Jaylon Smith, Gathers was one of Dallas’ two draft picks from 2016 who didn’t play a snap last season, but both players could be poised for breakout years in 2017. The Cowboys already scored big in the 2016 draft with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, who both helped lead the team to a 13-3 record and the NFC East division crown in their first seasons in the NFL. If Smith and Gathers live up to their full potential, Dallas’ 2016 draft class could go down as one of the best ever.