Rico Gathers, TE, Baylor
Ht. 6'6", Wt. 273, Arm: -, Hand: -, Bench: 20
40 yd: 4.75, 10 yd.: 1.56, 3 Cone: 6.82, Vertical: -, Broad: 9'7"
Basketball is in the genes of Gathers, whose father is the cousin of the late Hank gathers, a former Loyola Marymount All-America basketball player. He averaged 8.6 points and 8 rebounds per game during his four years at Baylor, earning All-America honors as a junior. He made the decision to switch to football after his senior season.
Despite the recruitment of Baylor football coach Art Briles, Gathers opted to leave college and enter the 2016 NFL Draft. He worked out for 24 teams — including the Cowboys — at the New Orleans Saints' pro day. He hasn't played football since middle school, but Dallas spent a sixth round pick (217th overall) on him in hopes that he can become the latest in a line of college basketball players becoming NFL tight ends.
• Size - Optimum height, frame, length
• Agility - Exceptional body control for size
• Quickness - Flashes elite quickness, burst
• Hands - Showed soft hands on court
• Red Zone - Looks like a natural threat
• Experience - No competitive football since middle school
• Route Tree - Starting from Square 1
• Blocking - Needs natural pad level
• Long Speed - Might limit versatility
Verdict: Worth the "Risk"
Tony Gonzalez. Antonio Gates. Martellus Bennett. Jimmy Graham. Julius Thomas. Rico Gathers?
There is obvious precedent with college basketball players becoming NFL tight ends, but Gathers isn't quite the same. First of all, most of those guys played football in college while Gathers last suited up during puberty. Gathers also didn't test as well athletically as the other guys on the list.
Another relevant precedent is that NFL teams generally don't draft people who didn't play football in college, including Antonio Gates. Based on the fact that the Cowboys used their final draft pick on him, it's safe to assume that teams graded Gathers accordingly and Dallas didn't want to risk not being able to sign him after the draft.
Gathers appears to lack the long speed to be a flex tight end, the experience to play inline and the route tree to work from the slot. He has a long way to go to be a regular contributor, but he should be able to work into a role in the red zone fairly quickly. That said, his raw tools and upside make him worth the "risk" of the team's last 2016 draft pick.