When they cut Dez Bryant earlier this month, the Dallas Cowboys lost their jump ball threat in the red zone.
That’s one of the biggest reasons Hall of Famer Michael Irvin felt the Cowboys should keep Bryant despite his declining production in recent seasons. Having a player who can win “jump balls” is important in today’s game, particularly in the red zone.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett doesn’t disagree.
"It's certainly something that you like to have," Garrett said. "Typically what that forces teams to do is put a big guy out there, or put two guys out there, and if you can prove to teams that you can win one-on-one out there, score touchdowns, that’s a difference-making quality. Dez was able to do that really throughout his career."
The Cowboys don’t have that clear-cut "jump ball" option on their current roster, and could target a player with that skill-set on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
SMU's Courtland Sutton is a name to watch for the Cowboys. They could be aggressive in trying to trade up for the local receiver who would fit the "jump ball" criteria.
Sutton had 12 touchdown receptions for the Mustangs last season, and 10 in 2016. And Sutton has a similar build as Bryant.
And the Cowboys have been linked to Sutton throughout the draft process. Garrett and wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal worked him out at his pro day and each had positive things to say about Brenham native.
Another name to watch? Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki.
The Cowboys haven’t been scared to use a Day 2 pick on tight ends in previous years and what does Gesicki do best? Win jump balls.
At 6-foot-6 and with a 41 1/2-inch vertical, Gesicki has the makings of being a beast in the red zone and winning jump balls thrown his way.
If the Cowboys value a jump ball threat as much as Irvin, they certainly could address it on Day 2. But Garrett believes the Cowboys will be able to score points with or without a true jump ball guy in 2018.
"We feel like there are potentially guys who can do that for us on our roster now, we’ll see once we get on the practice field," Garrett said. "Then certainly there are some guys potentially available in the draft.
"But we have other weapons. If you don’t have a guy who is particularly capable of doing that, you try and score other ways."