Cowboys see big improvement in ex-basketball player Rico Gathers

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The Cowboys took former Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers in the sixth round of last year’s draft even though he hadn’t played football in college, or even in high school. And even though Gathers never got on the field as a rookie, they think that gamble is going to pay off.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says a year on the practice squad did Gathers a world of good, and he now appears to be 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 loved what he saw of Gathers 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.”

Gathers and linebacker Jaylon Smith are two Cowboys 2016 draft picks who didn’t play at all as rookies but could be in for big years in 2017. Dallas already has two big hits from the 2016 draft in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. If Smith and Gathers are able to live up to their promise, that Cowboys 2016 draft class could be legendary.

24 responses to “Cowboys see big improvement in ex-basketball player Rico Gathers

  1. When Jerry Jones decides to take an ex-hamburger flipper in the sixth round, it’ll be my time to shine.

  2. Never played football in college or high school, but after a year on the practice squad he can play in the NFL.
    Now that’s funny, next we’ll hear he will be better than Witten ever was.

  3. Before you mock this, don’t forget that a number of athletes have gone from a basketball focus to being NFL contributors, and TE is the perfect position for it. Gathers clearly is athletic enough, so it comes down to skills development, and so far this spring he has demonstrated improvement by leaps and bounds.

    Some guys just have a feel for sports that most of us do not (Mookie Betts, who on the side is a terrific bowler while being an All Star baseball player, is a good example). Maybe Gathers won’t amount to much, but so far the team has invested little in terms of draft capital, salary, and roster space in Gathers, so it’s worth the shot.

  4. Antonio Gates made the transition and so can Rico. They have the same body type, Rico is very athletic, knows how to play with leverage “in the paint”, has soft hands and is learning from the goat Witten– all he has to do is keep working, the traits are there.

  5. 6’8, 280 and ran a 4.6 something in the 40. IF he really is picking the game up quickly, this kid could be a freak at the position. Especially in the red zone.

  6. Don’t forget they got Anthony Brown and Maliek Collins in that draft class, too.

  7. @ dirtydrynn27 says:

    “Over rated!!!!!”

    Uhhhh, it is spelled overrated, chief. If you are going to hate, at least have some level of credibility.

    Apparently correct spelling is also overrated with you. SMDH……

  8. wagon151515 says:
    May 13, 2017 4:46 PM
    6’8, 280 and ran a 4.6 something in the 40. IF he really is picking the game up quickly, this kid could be a freak at the position. Especially in the red zone.
    ———————————————————————–
    The question is, can he catch the ball?

  9. How many times has this experiment been done for every Antonio Gates/Tony G, the will be a 100 of these ex bball players that wont necessarily pan out.

  10. dirtydrynn27 says:

    Over rated!!!!!
    ================================

    How do you know, Vince Lombardi? You’ve never seen him play.

  11. redsoxu571 says:
    May 13, 2017 4:19 PM
    Before you mock this, don’t forget that a number of athletes have gone from a basketball focus to being NFL contributors, and TE is the perfect position for it. Gathers clearly is athletic enough, so it comes down to skills development, and so far this spring he has demonstrated improvement by leaps and bounds.

    Some guys just have a feel for sports that most of us do not (Mookie Betts, who on the side is a terrific bowler while being an All Star baseball player, is a good example). Maybe Gathers won’t amount to much, but so far the team has invested little in terms of draft capital, salary, and roster space in Gathers, so it’s worth the shot.
    ====================================

    No offense but I don’t think someone being a good baseball player and also having bowling skills is a comparable situation. Bowling doesn’t take a fraction of the athleticism that football or baseball do. On average I bowl about once every other year and last time I went I threw a 189. I’m convinced that if I practiced for 6 months I could be a pro

  12. Anthony Brown got thrown to the wolves and started swinging. 2016 class is a jackpot for us. This could be Witten’s replacement down the line. Learning from a future Hall of Famer is very beneficial.

  13. Can he catch the ball when he hears footsteps from a 250# LB and a 220# safety getting ready to put their shoulder in his kidney.

    It’s true that the raw tools seem pretty great, but most passes aren’t jump balls in the end zone.

  14. Not to make any comments about this kid’s chances of becoming an NFL player, I always love these sports transformation stories. Chris Hogan is another example of one of these overnight sensation….. except that it was 5 years in the making.

    No the thing that gets me about this particular article is the fact that EVERY story that originates from the Cowboys these days is one of unbridaled optimism. EVERY player is good. EVERY player is improving. EVERY player is a future all pro.

    Now the Cowboys DO have a lot to be optimistic about. But why don’t they just let the mediots do the heavy lifting creating that narrative, instead of feeling the need to create the narrative themselves.

    Maybe I’m a little jealous. My team’s narrative has been the same for the last 18 years. “We’re hard at work trying to be better t0day than yesterday and there is a long way to go”. Or “He’s a hard working, smart player. Let’s see how he does when the games start”. Or, something else very similar. In fact I can’t remember when BB ever said something like, “yeah, that kid looked great today in practice. He can be a real impact player for us this year”

    It may be less interesting for the fans than what the Cowboys generally do, be we HAVE won a few playoff games this century. 😀

  15. @ midnightcusk says:

    “Can he catch the ball when he hears footsteps from a 250# LB and a 220# safety getting ready to put their shoulder in his kidney. It’s true that the raw tools seem pretty great, but most passes aren’t jump balls in the end zone.”

    Being that he is 6’6″ and ran a 4.75 forty (pretty solid speed for a guy his size), I would be very interested to see what LB or S can actually cover the guy.

    Any player who catches the ball is going to take hits – that is a given. We will all see how things play out, but I would bet (given his height and athleticism) that he could win a lot of those battles. Time will tell.

  16. Being that he is 6’6″ and ran a 4.75 forty (pretty solid speed for a guy his size), I would be very interested to see what LB or S can actually cover the guy.
    __________

    Wow that’s almost as fast as 300+ pound Tackle Terron Armstead. Gonna be hard for linebackers to keep up with that.

  17. Raw athletic talent isn’t the only factor, but it is a major factor when it comes to playing pro football. It’s not so far fetched that Gathers can have a positive impact on this team.

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