After a call from Dak Prescott, receiver Jalen Tolbert had a feeling he was going to be a Cowboy – Dallas Cowboys Blog
FRISCO, Texas — When Jalen Tolbert answered the phone a few days ago, he thought it was someone from the Dallas Cowboys confirming his number in case they picked him in the NFL Draft.
Turns out it was Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
“I answered and he was like ‘Jalen’ and I was like ‘What’s up?’ And he says, ‘It’s Dak Prescott. How are you?'” Said Tolbert, the wide receiver from southern Alabama who was selected in the third round by the Cowboys on Friday at No. 88 overall. “For a minute it was like a surreal moment because I didn’t know quarterbacks would call prospects, but it was an awesome, great experience.”
Prescott spoke with Tolbert for about 20 minutes, “and I think we immediately vibrated on the phone, connected right there.”
The Cowboys considered Tolbert in the second round before selecting Ole Miss pass thrower Sam Williams. They were happy to see him available in the third round. He caught 82 passes for 1,474 yards and eight touchdowns last season, including a seven-catch, 143-yard effort against Tennessee.
“We talked about my past relationships with my quarterbacks,” Tolbert said. “We talked about my strengths on and off the court, the challenges I had to overcome. Also what I could bring to the table. Dak was asking me if he could put me to X on my own in a three par a or if I could go to the niche between CeeDee [Lamb] or Michael [Gallup]. All this we just talked about.
At the end of the conversation, Prescott told Tolbert to call him if he needed anything.
“I’m definitely going to call him tonight, let him know I’m ready to play,” Tolbert said. “I need the playbook.”
The Cowboys have used their quarterbacks in previous draft ratings. Troy Aikman participated in practices with David LaFleur and Tony Gonzalez before the 1997 draft. In 2013, Tony Romo reviewed a number of receivers and tight ends and the Cowboys selected Gavin Escobar and Terrance Williams in the second and third rounds .
“For me, it was a Dak thing,” vice president of player personnel Will McClay said. “The importance of him to the organization, he reached out and said, ‘Hey, here’s some guys to do your thing with,’ because we’re over 50 here. We have a feeling and a feeling on [players] and the guys who are in the locker room pick up trends too and it was important for a great person like him to reach out to those guys.
Prescott’s call wasn’t the only indication of the Cowboys’ interest in Tolbert. Wide receivers coach Robert Prince put him through private training.
“I showed that I could retain information and be able to make runs through the Cowboys system,” he said. “And then after I remember asking [Prince], ‘Hey, Coach, what can I work on?’ and he was like, ‘I’ll tell you when we make you a Cowboy.’ I got a little hint there.
The Cowboys were in dire need of a receiver after trading Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and losing Cedrick Wilson in free agency to the Miami Dolphins. Gallup has re-signed with the team for a five-year contract, but is expected to miss at least a few games after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee late last season. The Cowboys added James Washington as a free agent but needed more help.
And Tolbert comes with Prescott’s approval.
“I know Michael Gallup is a receiver that goes out there like me and I know CeeDee is able to break tackles and play physically like me,” Tolbert said, “so I’m excited to learn from those two guys and be able to get to work.”