Cowboys TE1 Dalton Schultz has developed into more than a run blocker

Dalton Schultz has made waves in the NFL this season. After being stuck behind Jason Witten or splitting reps with Blake Jarwin, Schultz finally got his chance with the Cowboys after an unfortunate injury to Jarwin. He has made the absolute most of his opportunities and has become a top five tight end in 2021 seemingly out of nowhere.

Dalton Schultz is here to stay for the the Dallas Cowboys.

After having a great high school career at Bingham High School where he had a line of 76/1,120/12, he committed to Stanford University where was a redshirt freshman in 2014. He was stuck behind current NFL tight end Austin Hooper that season and the next until Hooper declared for the draft in 2016.

This Stanford team was full of talent and Schultz had the privilege of blocking for All-Pro Christian McCaffery and also college standout Bryce Love. That’s what the current Cowboys TE was used for mostly, blocking. He was damn good at it though receiving All-PAC-12 honorable mention and the next season winning the award as a first teamer in 2017. That 2017 season he helped Bryce Love rush for 2,118 yards and he declared for the NFL draft. He still put up solid receiving numbers at a 22/212/3 clip.

Dalton Schultz fell to the fourth round of the NFL Draft where the Dallas Cowboys took him 137th overall. He was clearly meant to be a primarily blocking tight end on the Cowboys as well and at 6’5 and 244 lbs he fit the mold. On his draft analysis here were the positives listed on his draft profile:

“Very tenacious run blocker. Leaned on as a vital part of run blocking unit. Initial hand placement is good.”

Very high praise for his run blocking ability and it was deserved. In 2017 he was a contributor in the Dallas Cowboys having the second most rushing yards per game (135.7). He did not begin the season as a starter but when Geoff Swaim got injured he used his as best he could and passed Jarwin on the depth chart.

In 2019, Jason Witten came out of retirement and essentially sent Dalton Schultz to the depths of the Cowboys 53 man roster where he registered 117 snaps and got one catch all season.

2020 and 2021 have been an entirely different story. Jason Witten moved on to the Raiders in the 2020 offseason and Jarwin tore his ACL in the Week 1 of the season. Despite Dak Prescott going down in Week 5 of that season Schultz became the fourth tight end in franchise history to catch 60 passes in a single season. Schultz already has 69 this season. Here’s a negative draft analysis for Schultz.

“Could have somewhat limited workspace as an NFL pass catcher. Not as physical after the catch.”

I’m happy to report that the assessment of Dalton Schultz was wrong and he has become much more than just a run blocker.

A guy who “could have somewhat limited workspace as an NFL pass catcher” getting number two option looks on a high powered offense that consists of Amari Cooper and Cee Dee Lamb isn’t too bad.

He has had two career games in a row now with 8 receptions, 60+ yards, and a touchdown. Schultz is wiggling his way into the top five tight end conversation. He just seems to always be open and when Dak Prescott’s first reads are not open Dalton Schultz is always a reliable safety valve.

Dalton Schultz has made a statement to the Cowboys that he is much more than just a blocker. The quarterback rating when he’s targeted is 116.2 and 326 YAC. I would not be surprised if Schultz becomes a legitimate option #2 over Amari Cooper and inserts himself into the top five tight end conversation.