Everyone knows the Dallas Cowboys’ tight end spot is held down by Jason Witten, one of the greatest to ever play the position. Still, in this ever-evolving NFL world, there’s always room for another tight end to be productive.
That’s where James Hanna, a second-year player out of Oklahoma, comes into the mix.
Despite playing in all 16 games (two starts) his rookie season, Hanna managed only eight receptions for 86 yards while serving mostly as a special teamer. Throughout the year, he only saw 109 offensive snaps and was generally seen as a nothing more than an occasional fill-in. In 2013, though, the Cowboys are expected to give him the opportunity to earn a bigger role alongside Witten.
The first step towards significance for Hanna will be fending off Gavin Escobar, a 2013 second-round pick that the Cowboys have high hopes for. A San Diego State product with plenty to offer in the passing game, the arrival of the rookie tight end poses a serious threat to Hanna. The second-year player, however, will have every chance to maintain his spot on the depth chart.
Hanna has the leg up on Escobar because of his abilities as a blocker, which should be enough to keep him in the No. 2 tight end slot for now. With soft hands, monstrous athleticism and field-stretching speed, Hanna can provide quarterback Tony Romo with a reliable weapon throughout the 2013 campaign.
In only his second season with the Cowboys, Hanna appears to have become the forgotten man in their passing game. If he can assert his presence early and shine throughout training camp, though, there’s a good chance that he’ll see his snaps increase significantly this upcoming season.
The Cowboys need a dark horse to help spark their offense in 2013. Hanna could be just what the doctor ordered.