Dallas Cowboys: Don’t sleep on TE Dalton Schultz this season

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 26: Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 26: Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys reserve tight end, Dalton Schultz, is better than most fans realize and he may play a big role in 2020

For some reason, Dallas Cowboys fans don’t have a whole lotta love for their reserve tight end Dalton Schultz. After failing to properly replace a legend in 2018 when Jason Witten unexpectedly retired, Schultz has become an afterthought in Cowboys Nation.

What many seem to overlook is that the past two seasons we’ve seen steady improvement from Schultz and there’s an excellent chance he’ll not only hang on to his job in 2020, but he’ll elevate to TE2.

It’s a pivotal year for the Dallas Cowboys’ third year tight end, to be sure. The former fourth round pick out of Stanford is in the last year of his rookie deal and how he performs this season will likely determine his future in the NFL. Luckily for him the opportunity is there on the Dallas Cowboys.

Jason Witten is gone (again) and the only tight end clearly above him on the depth chart (Blake Jarwin) is a liability in blocking. Now Blake Jarwin isn’t going to be losing his starting spot anytime soon, but the opportunity will be there to take snaps as the second tight end and/or as the primary tight end on obvious running downs.

How good of a blocker is Dalton?

He might be the best on the team. Even after the Dallas Cowboys signed renowned blocking tight end Blake Bell in free agency, Dalton could be the top dog. He was clearly better than Jarwin and Witten last season, and given his steady progression, he’ll likely be even better in 2020.

Pro Football Focus gave Schultz a 71.9 run blocking score. That was more than any other TE on the Dallas Cowboys last season and more than new Cowboy, Blake Blake. In fact, Schultz was the seventh rated run blocking tight end in the entire NFL last year. Not bad for a kid who’s just 23 years-old, huh?

Dalton Schultz was the seventh rated run blocking tight end in the entire NFL last year.

The film backs it up as well. Go back and watch the All-22 and you’ll see Schultz not only sealing off the edge, but consistently moving would-be tacklers and sustaining blocks throughout the play’s development. His ability to sustain is of extra importance in read-option scenarios which naturally take longer to develop and can break to either side of the blocking Schultz.

As a TE3 last season, Schultz didn’t see a ton of action. He only played 117 snaps making comprehensive film study fairly easy. For whatever reason Dallas Cowboys fans are hesitant to give him credit as blocker. Perhaps it’s his small pads or maybe it’s his long frame that keeps him from looking the part. Whatever the reason, Schultz is fundamentally sound and often executes his assignments well.

The best part is there’s plenty of room to grow. Schultz appears to be holding back on his power. It’s not uncommon to see a tight end do this as he navigates the intricacies of the task at hand. With increased confidence, the strength will come. And when it does Dalton could be a force.

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As a pass-catcher we know next to nothing about Schultz. Rarely given opportunities, Schultz was only targeted two times in 2020. Looking deeper we can see Schultz lined up inline 113 times and only split out four times. Lack of receiving opportunities is clearly a factor in this regard.

But other than becoming a reliable target from time to time, how much do we care about him being a threat as a receiver? I mean, he’s never going to be as dangerous as Blake Jarwin and every pass to Schultz would theoretically be a pass that could have gone to Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, or CeeDee Lamb.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t need another player demanding the ball. They need a proficient blocker and that’s exactly what Dalton Schultz is.

dark. Next. Why Blake Jarwin is the perfect TE for Mike McCarthy

The Dallas Cowboys brought in a handful of options the past few months who could challenge Schultz for a job. And most will say free agent signee Blake Bell is a clear favorite for TE2. While Bell could ultimately win the job, it’s far from a sure thing given how well Schultz has been progressing as a blocker.

  • Published on 05/22/2020 at 11:01 AM
  • Last updated at 05/22/2020 at 11:32 AM