Dallas Cowboys third-round pick Jalen Tolbert once drew interest from Texas Rangers

·3 min read
Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys rookie receiver Jalen Tolbert has a long way to go before he is even close to being considered a replacement for departed No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March.

And no one is trying to put the burden of replacing Cooper solely on Tolbert.

Tolbert was picked in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft out of South Alabama to help shore up the position. He is expected to help make up for the losses of Cooper and Cedrick Wilson in free agency but also navigate the absence of Michael Gallup for the first two or three games of the season.

Quarterback Dak Prescott sent him a playbook right after the draft “so I could get a head start on the plays,” Tolbert said.

The Cowboys believe Tolbert can have an immediate impact.

“I got to prove them right,” Tolbert said. “I’m going to keep working and do everything I can to prove them right and come in and have an immediate impact.”

The Cowboys are pleased with what they have seen from Tolbert, who was a standout at the rookie minicamp last weekend with his work ethic and play on the field.

“He’s awesome,” offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said. “I think he works his tail off. I think you can tell how prepared he is and how detailed he wants to be.

“I think he’s going to be a really good addition for us.”

Said Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay: “He’s got size (6-foot-2, 194-pounds), he’s extremely intelligent and the type of player you want to grow in that room because of his intelligence. He’s an NFL-style receiver — body style, size, ability to find space, the ability to play inside and outside. That versatility made him very attractive.”

What makes Tolbert unique is his inexperience and seemingly limitless upside as a result.

He grew up playing baseball and did a pre-draft workout with the Texas Rangers in 2017. His best friend is Texas Rangers 2017 first-round pick Bubba Thompson, a former high school teammate at Mobile McGill-Toolen who is an outfielder with the Triple A-affiliate Round Rock Express.

Tolbert didn’t even start playing football until his junior year in high school.

He became a two-time all-conference player at South Alabama but remains a sponge for knowledge and information to continue to grow a receiver.

Because he went to high school and college in Mobile, Alabama, Tolbert took advantage of the opportunity to go over the Senior Bowl offices and study film before the draft.

He has brought that mentality to minicamp this past weekend as he was the last player off the field after practice following extra work catching passes on the jugs machine.

“You got to do more than everybody else,” Tolbert said. “That is what I have to do to compete with the best of the best. Anything I can do to get an edge or make myself better in any way. I’m doing what got me here.”

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy compared Tolbert to CeeDee Lamb and Gallup.

He didn’t bring up Cooper.

But there is a tacit understanding that the sky’s the limit for Tolbert.

“He’s young and frankly one of the things he made a big point of in our initial conversation was he’s pretty young at the game of football,” McCarthy said. “He didn’t play a lot of football. So, that’s exciting because — these are his words — ‘I don’t know how high my ceiling is, but I think it’s going to be pretty damn high’. And I was like, ‘Hell yeah, it’s going to be high.’ I think that is very exciting.”

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