Managing Expectations: Jalen Tolbert

Jalen Tolbert is going to be forced into action early and often during his rookie season. The Cowboys have suffered significant loses to their wide receiver room over the last couple of months. With Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson no longer on the team, and Michael Gallup expected to miss a large portion of the season, Tolbert will be relied upon heavily. So how does the rookie pass catcher fit into the offense and what can we expect from him this season?

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Jalen Tolbert was considered one of the premiere deep threats in college football. Utilizing his 4.44 speed and 77 inch wingspan, Tolbert was able to average 17 yards per catch his Junior year and 18 yards per catch during his senior campaign, firmly cementing his status as a prolific down field threat. Tolbert finished his senior year ranked 7th in the FBS with 1472 receiving yards and also tallied 8 receiving TDs, becoming his school’s all time leader in yards and receiving touchdowns in the process. Due to his impressive season he was named the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year.

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Tolbert’s skillset and Gallup’s injury means that he should see a large quantity of his snaps come as an outside receiver. While he will not usually draw the assignment of a team’s best receiver it should be noted that Tolbert does not have a lot of experience in dealing with NFL quality corners. One of the biggest question marks surrounding Tolbert is his ability to consistently perform against better competition. Due to not playing in a Power 5 conference, Tolbert very rarely lined up against quality competition however, in the one instance where he did last season he rose to the occasion. When South Alabama played Tennessee last season Tolbert was still able to have a big game despite the uptick in competition. He ended the game with 7 receptions for 143 yards and a TD. While this does prove he is capable of playing well against top tier talent however, it does not prove, that he can do so on a weekly bases.

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Kellen Moore’s offense averaged 38.4 pass attempts per game last season, the 5th most in the league. Due to the high volume pass attack that Moore prefers Tolbert will have adequate opportunities to positively impact the Cowboys’ offense if he capitalizes on them. Amari Cooper, Cedrick Wilson, and Michael Gallup accounted for 227 targets combined; with all aforementioned players either no longer on the roster or injured Tolbert will receive the lion’s share of their targets each week.

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With Tolbert’s God given talent and the ample amount of play time and targets he is expected to receive we are projecting a rookie season with 70 receptions 1050 yards and 6 TDs. While this may at first seem a bit high for a 3rd round rookie we must take into consideration that it is a 17 game season. We must also realize that Moore is still expected to operate a high volume passing attack and even when Michael Gallup returns there will still be an abundance of targets to go around. While there are questions surrounding if he can be consistent against NFL talent he will still be playing with a top 10 quarterback in Prescott in an offense that gives multiple players targets. Expect for a quick return on investment with Tolbert during the 2021 season.

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One response to “Managing Expectations: Jalen Tolbert”

  1. Regardless of his player statis Dak is and has proven he can turn recievers into star when Gallup came in the league they clicked I kinda got the feeling that is the real reason for letting Cooper go… But who knows with this ownership.

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