by Ray Kuhn
It should have happened last season, but Jason Witten got in the way. After closing the season out strong in 2018 with 20 receptions in the last four weeks of the season (including 7+ receptions twice), and another five in the playoffs, Blake Jarwin was primed to take the next step in 2019. Instead Witten came back from retirement, and it was more of the same for Jarwin as he posted 31 receptions for 365 yards and 3 TD.
With Witten signing with the newly minted Las Vegas Raiders, we don’t have to worry about there being any threats on Jarwin’s playing time for the upcoming season. As the Cowboys return all of their skill players from last season, their offense will once again be an explosive force to be reckoned with. One season later than expected, Jarwin stands to benefit as he takes the next step.
Last season, an aging Witten was targeted 83 times and caught 63 passes for 529 yards and 4 TD. Granted the yards per catch weren’t there, at 8.4, but he had enough sustainable volume to keep him on the fringes of the tight end radar. With 11.4 yards per reception last season, Jarwin showed a bit more explosiveness and that should allow him to take the next steps into being a TE1. Currently, Jarwin is the 20th tight end coming off the board with an ADP of 171, and he helps to make a case for waiting at the tight end position.
Obviously you have your options at the top of the draft and there is no comparing them to Jarwin, but as we get further down the list the choices begin to blend together. Some have more of a track record, but the potential is there for Jarwin.
As far as tight ends go Jarwin’s average depth of target (10.6 yards) ranks at the top of the list, and his 2.3% drop rate also ranks highly. Couple that with the fact that not only will Jarwin replace Witten’s target share but also his red zone workload, and things are looking up as he enters his fourth NFL season.
If you are looking for this season’s Mark Andrews, and why wouldn’t you be, Jarwin is likely going to be your guy. There is a batch of young tight ends with upside, including Mike Gesicki, T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, at the tail end of the TE1 rankings who will get more attention (all are worthy). However Jarwin could finish the season ranked above each of them. Either way, the case is made to wait on the tight end position and spend your draft capital elsewhere (i.e. running back).
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: