The year before this offseason, life was keeping me so busy that I didn't have as much time for football as I would have liked or as I do now. While Gallup is my favorite player currently on the roster, I was also somewhat of a fan of Amari Cooper's. I also knew Gallup was hurt and I knew Fehoko's name and team obviously, but I hadn't had time to watch any games that Fehoko played in at Stanford.
I first saw Fehoko's name and a small clip of him playing when we drafted him, but the clip they showed during the draft wasn't all that impressive, so I thought he was probably the kind of WR you typically get in the 5th round. Assume he wasn't more scrappy and not athletic simply because I never took the time because I didn't have time.
After Cooper was officially cut, I researched Fehoko's games at Stanford and it suddenly clicked that the Cowboys appeared to at least have part of a backup plan in place. Fehoko is a guy who is obviously not as polished as Cooper, but he definitely had the athleticism to match Cooper. When I first took a closer look, I thought he had a lot of similarities to other big-bodied WRs we've had in the past like Owens and Dez.
Slow your rolls. I'm not saying Fehoko is either of those two, but he definitely has some tools. The biggest doubt I had about Fehoko was that he just kind of comes off as sort of a beta male, and I thought he might lack the alpha dog mentality to actually go compete at the NFL level. Only last week did I hear his interview about how he actually views competition at this level: he views it like he's providing for his wife. And that seems like a pragmatic approach if you ask me. So I'm over that part, especially after seeing him quietly come into camp, put his head down, and just play, even when many doubted he'd make the roster.
While some of us get caught up with what we see in games, we just never know if it will translate at the next level or not. But for me, that's always been the most interesting aspect of any pro sport, pondering which players will play at what level, etc. and then who will win the matchups individually and as a team when they do play.
Fast forward to the draft, and I ultimately liked George Pickens, the guy the Steelers ended up drafting, the most of any other WR in this draft. But as I was hanging out in the Draft Zone with the other football nerds on the Zone, I also saw things in Jalen Tolbert that I really liked during the draft albeit against competition from a small school. The way Tolbert played under Major Applewhite was quite impressive, just because he made it look so smooth and easy. I even thought it was possible that down the line he might have the potential to be the best WR in the draft, in hindsight, looking back from the future.
Before the 2022 draft, I discussed the chances of Fehoko being a good player this year with other posters on the board who mostly pointed out what I already knew: that Fehoko really didn't get any playing time last year, and didn't contribute much due to there being quite a bit of depth at the WR positions and the likelihood that he just wasn't ready last year. Since I'm always open to, at the very least, considering the opinion of others, I eventually tempered my personal expectations for Fehoko and figured it was quite possible that maybe he was just one of those guys who had all the tools. While it was possible he would just never really compete at the next level, his athleticism and game tape just gave me a hunch he'd turn the proverbial corner.
While I still see it as a small possibility he won't develop, I'm guessing that things at least start to click with Fehoko in year two of his NFL career.
But I still think Tolbert is closer to being more ready this year than Fehoko likely was last year. And as much as I like Fehoko, Tolbert has enough tools where I could see him edging out Fehoko for reps.
After the draft, I started leaning towards Tolbert being the kind of guy who could come in and play right away (I still think that's possible). And then preseason came along and it was just really difficult to assess where he was as far as being an NFL ready receiver able to contribute right away. I'm still basing my speculations off of what little we saw of him in preseason, and his college tape.
Even though Fehoko had two preseason TDs, it's still difficult to say how ready he or Tolbert are for the next level (yes, I'm getting to the point).
Thankfully, I did some research tonight on an article I thought I read a couple months back that talked about Gallup undergoing a new procedure for torn ACL's. The new procedure that I read about tonight involves less recovery time, and the writer implied that Gallup could be coming back to play earlier than most players do, Adrian Peterson aside. And I it looks like there is indeed a new procedure. So that gives me hope my personal favorite play on the current team will return sooner rather than mid-season or later, which is what I've been prepared for until Jerry recently said Gallup won't be on the PUP or IR.
"This is truly a cutting edge procedure,” explained Dr. Varacallo. “In traditional ACL surgeries, the pressurized tunnels can be risk factors for re-injury because they can take up to six or seven months to heal. However, with the Fertilized ACL procedure, the tunnels heal faster because the graft starts to incorporate into the body faster. In fact, four weeks post surgery, you cannot even see the bone tunnels."
So, it comes down to a numbers game on the depth chart behind Lamb, Gallup and likely Brown (even though the Cowboys have been quiet about who of those players will play). If Gallup returns earlier than reports initially said, we'll have more WRs than we thought we would have coming into the season. So for all the TL:DR posters out there, I'll get to the point of the post now, and the most fun part of being a fan, for me, at least, and ask the question I've been beating around the Bush about asking.
Between Fehoko and Tolbert, which player do you think gets more reps from the Cowboys in 2022? I'm not asking this question so we can look back or have bragging rights. I'm asking because I am genuinely interested in what the Cowboys will do and I'm also interested to hear others' thoughts on how close or far apart other fans see these two players?
I honestly can't call it. I think it's about 45/55 either way. But I'm going with Fehoko having a 100 more yards than Tolbert, and a TD or two more. The reason I go with Fehoko is athleticism. While Tolbert appears to be a slightly better route runner at first glance, Simi's routes aren't terrible. Having played corner in high school, I would least want to have to cover Fehoko all game. Not that the end result wouldn't be any different than getting torched by both guys.
I know some will say it doesn't matter. And others will cry that I'm trying to start a controversy. But that is not true. I like both of these guys a lot.
I suspect that Fehoko ends up having a nice career in the NFL. I also think the same about Tolbert. It just comes down to who gets more reps, because there's only one ball. And I see McCarthy and Moore having more faith in Fehoko because Simi seems to have really improved during the offseason.
I have a feeling that Simi will eventually be a baller. The question is can he be the kind of player who puts us over the top on offense, at times, much like Cooper did in close games.
Only time will tell, but I get more excited about this team every day. If Gallup returns playing like he did pre-ACL tear, and Tolbert and Fehoko match the production of Cooper and Wilson, I think we're in for a wild and surprising ride this season.