The Dallas Cowboys did a complete overhaul of defensive talent in the 2021 NFL draft, and rightfully so considering their lackluster performance on that side of the ball in 2020. The wide receiver position didn’t need a lot of attention with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb being on the roster. However, the Cowboys did add 6-foot-4 speedster Simi Fehoko in the fifth round.
America’s Team took a deeper dive into the wide receiver spot when they dipped their toes into the undrafted free agent pool and signed Osirus Mitchell (Mississippi State), Brandon Smith (Iowa), and Brennen Eagles (Texas). Another pass catcher, T.J. Vasher out of Texas Tech, was also signed and provides an interesting dynamic to the competition at wide receiver this offseason with his height (stands 6-foot-6), length, and ability to make contested catches.
Vasher only played in one game as a freshman in 2016 for the Red Raiders and caught two passes for nine yards, but would receive a medical redshirt after suffering a season-ending injury. Over the next three seasons, Vasher would show the potential that made him a two-sport star in Wichita Falls, Texas, about two hours north of Dallas.
He only caught 29 passes in 2017, but Vasher racked up 545 yards (18.8 yards per catch) and scored six touchdowns. He nearly doubled his reception total a season later (54) and had his most yards (687) and touchdowns (7) during his college days. After 515 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, Vasher struggled last season with just 227 yards and two touchdowns in 19 receptions.
Vasher’s height and length will help him on the pro level as he can use that to wall off defenders and put himself into a position to make plays down the field. In a recent piece on DallasCowboys.com, Kyle Youmans talked about Vasher’s background as a basketball player and how it translates to him being a successful receiver.
“Vasher grew up northwest of the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex in Wichita Falls where he was a multi-sport star (Football and Basketball) at Rider High School, earning All-State honors twice on the court. While he is certainly talented on the gridiron, his 6-foot-5 frame looks like it would be better fit on the hardwood (where he was a two-time all-stater). His 84-inch wingspan is the longest out of any wide receiver or tight end in the draft class, including Kyle Pitts (83in). He has the size and the body control to succeed at the next level, and in my opinion, a sneaky pick to make the roster as a rookie,” Youmans said.
This particular part of his game makes him an intriguing option as a threat in the red zone on back shoulder fades and go routes at 6-foot-6, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have things to work on.
His play strength doesn’t match his frame and aggressive press coverage tends to bother him. He needs to develop and refine his route running and he doesn’t possess a lot of speed.
These types of questions aren’t uncommon with undrafted players. Vasher does have raw ability and traits which can turn him into an effective wide receiver with the right coaching.
Outside of the Cowboy’s top three receivers there’s plenty of opportunities to compete. Noah Brown and Cedrick Wilson have the leg up on Vasher from simply having years in the systems under their belt, but both are on one-year deals so nothing is concrete with either.
Training camp and the preseason will be where Vasher will need to prove he’s worthy of one of the final roster spots at wide receiver. Will the Texas native rise to the occasion? Only time will tell.
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