The NFL draft is over and done with, but free agent signing are still happening for those who weren't lucky enough to hear their name called this last weekend. Kaneakua Friel was one of those who finally heard his name called on Tuesday afternoon. Aaron Gordon, who represents Friel, announced on Twitter and Instagram that Kane is headed to the Dallas Cowboys. Friel leaves for the Cowboys' rookie mini-camp this Thursday.
On Saturday, Jay Drew of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that:
"an undisclosed club was ready to offer Friel a free-agent contract but changed its mind at the last minute and went with someone else."
Friel, a native of Hawaii, is listed at 6-5 and 261 pounds and will bring his size and versatility to try and make the Cowboy's roster. During his 45 game career at BYU, Friel has 491 yards and 7 TDs, with an average of 10.2 yards per catch. With his size and speed he could be a great blocker for the Cowboy's and a threat downfield.
Currently, the Cowboys have three tight ends under contract for 2014. Jason Witten has been a great target for Tony Romo over the last few years and is now entering his 12th season in the league. Gavin Escobar and James Hanna are the other guys on the roster, with Hanna playing quite a bit more. Escobar was challenged to bulk up during the off season to turn into a better blocking tight-end. If Escobar is unable to develop, there may be an opportunity for Friel to compete at that spot.
Another positive for Friel is the hiring of new tight ends coach Mike Pope. Pope was with the New York Giants and brings a wealth of experience to the job. With a new coach, there may be a chance for a player to come in and compete for a starting spot.
The Cowboys didn't pick up any tight ends in the draft because of their focus on getting better on defense. The Cowboys had one of the worst defenses in pro football last year and have spent a lot of the off season improving on that side of the ball.
Hopefully Friel can make an impression on the Cowboys and earn a spot on the roster. His size and blocking ability should bode well for him in making the team. Friel has a lot of potential as a play maker, but it may have been more important for him to learn blocking schemes as he did in Robert Anae's offense last year. BYU saw much less use of the tight end as an offensive threat last season than they did in Anae's first stint as offensive coordinator.
We're wishing Friel all the best at his tryout and hopefully his dreams of making an NFL roster come true.