Any hope Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz had at possibly becoming the Dallas Cowboys starting tight end in 2019 has all but gone out the window now that Jason Witten is back in uniform. That doesn’t mean either player can’t become the starting tight end in the future, but as far as this season is concerned they’re probably competing with each other to become Witten’s primary backup.
Jason Witten didn’t come out of retirement to sit and watch from the sideline. He’s expecting to handle the majority of the workload this year, meaning Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz is left fighting for whatever scraps are left on the bone. The Cowboys have hinted Witten could be on a snap count, but that remains to be seen.
With all of that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to go ahead and examine who is better suited to be the Dallas Cowboys TE2 behind No. 82 in 2019, Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz?
A Case for Blake Jarwin
Blake Jarwin seems to be the unanimous favorite around Cowboys Nation to take yet another step in his development and quite possibly challenge Jason Witten for more playing time. At 6’5″, 260 (according to Dallascowboys.com), Jarwin has the size required to handle the everyday responsibilities as a starter. Unfortunately, we’ve only seen flashes of his talent. It has been enough though for a lot of us to become even more intrigued with what you can do in the future.
There is one thing Jarwin has going for him than any of the other TEs on the Cowboys roster. He is arguably the most athletic of the group, making him more of a mismatch player in the passing game then Dalton Schultz or Jason Witten for that matter. We’ve only seen his athleticism on display in short spurts, but if he can become much more consistent he has a chance of becoming “the guy”.
This will be Jarwin’s third year in the NFL, which is usually the crucial “prove it” season for a lot of young players. To date, he has only 27 catches for 307 receiving yards and three touchdowns so far in his career, and most of those came against the New York Giants in 2018 (7 catches, 119 yards, 3 TDs). He’s also caught 75% of the passes thrown his way. The only thing he really needs to do now is put it all together.
A Case for Dalton Schultz
I don’t know about you, but I think everybody could be sleeping on Dalton Schultz a little bit right now as far as where he falls in the pecking order on the tight end depth chart. He is a Stanford product, a school known to produce starting caliber TEs. If you don’t believe me, just take a look around the NFL to see just how many TEs the Ivy League school has produced. I can think of about six off the top of my head.
I may be wrong, but I believe Dalton Schultz may be more in line with what the Dallas Cowboys are looking for in a starting tight end. They prefer someone who they can trust and and handling the blocking assignments as well as being a threat in the passing game. Blocking is one area where Schultz has the advantage over Blake Jarwin right now in this point of their careers. He was after all considered one of the complete tight ends coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Schultz didn’t have a terrible rookie season last year, but he was buried a little bit on the depth chart which impacted his on-field production. He finished 2018 with 12 catches for 116 yards with a catching percentage of 70%. It’s not terrible production considering how little he was used in the passing game, but I believe the 6’5″, 244 pounder is capable of much more. He possesses all the tools needed to be a starting caliber TE in the league.
Personally, I have a hard time saying anyone but Blake Jarwin being Jason Witten’s primary backup tight end this season. I really like Dalton Schultz because of his ability to contribute as a blocker and receiver, but Jarwin brings something a little different to the table than any other TE on the roster. I think he can be a real factor in the passing game, especially now with the creativity Kellen Moore is supposedly adding to the Cowboys offense.
I’m not completely shutting the door on Dalton Schultz though. Like I mentioned earlier, the Cowboys like the fact he can be an every down player. I don’t know if Jarwin could be trusted with the same kind responsibility right now. Trust can go a long ways in earning more playing time, and if I’m looking for more of a complete TE, Schultz would probably be my guy.
It may seem a little trivial to discuss who’s the best suited to back up Jason Witten in 2019, but we’ve all seen how quickly a backup can become a starter. That’s why if I had to choose right now I’d probably have to go with Blake Jarwin. He’s the more experienced and productive player, but all of that could be thrown out the window if Dalton Schultz outperforms him in training camp and preseason. It’s something to keep an eye on.