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Could TE Dalton Schultz Be Cowboys Biggest Surprise In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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Dallas Cowboys Draft Stanford TE Dalton Schultz With 137th Overall Pick
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The retirement of long time legend Jason Witten has left a lot of uncertainty around the tight end position in Dallas. The Cowboys haven't done a great job of preparing their tight ends group for life without Witten in the past, though they did draft one just last week.

That rookie tight end is Stanford's Dalton Schultz, and though he was only a fourth round pick, he's already being projected to be the Cowboys' biggest rookie surprise in 2018.

Ian Wharton put together a list predicting who will be each team's biggest surprise from their rookie class. His choice for the Cowboys? That very fourth round tight end, Dalton Schultz.

"The former Stanford Cardinal was never an overly productive player in college, totaling just 55 receptions, 555 yards and five touchdowns in three years. So expectations aren't for him to become a Pro Bowler, but he's also athletic enough to become more than a depth piece as a rookie. Schultz will be a contributor for this Cowboys passing attack in 2018."

Wharton also cites the Cowboys' current lack of tight end talent as a reason for Schultz's opportunity to surprise people in 2018. After all, he could very well be the 2nd tight end right after training camp. While Geoff Swaim is expected to be the starter, fan favorite Rico Gathers has been a bit of a mystery over the last year.

It doesn't sound like the Cowboys staff is too high on Gathers, which could give Schultz the chance he needs to gain playing time early on.

I doubt that Dalton Schultz will be the Cowboys starting tight end week one of the 2018 season, but I do agree that he has the chance to have a productive year, especially for a fourth round pick. Already rather polished as a run blocker, Schultz could prove critical to the Cowboys efforts to run the ball and control the clock.

He won't be asked to fill Jason Witten's shoes, but Dalton Schultz could prove to be an excellent day three pick for the Dallas Cowboys.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and am currently a college student. Lets get going.

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14 Comments
  • winstar

    What do you think? Tell us at boards.insidethestar.com.

  • John McClain

    I think that Rico Gathers is the future at TE. The rookie that should surprise is the second linebacker that they drafted Covington

  • Tommy Davis

    Absolutely ludicrous, this guy was not a productive player in college because he is not a very good player period. You folks amaze me, you would rather anyone play rather than the talented Rico Gathers. Dallas should be in the business of winning football games and to do that you play your talent. They should have given him reps last year backing up Witten whose production was on the decline due to his age. If the boys want to compete with the Eagles, Rams, Falcons, and an improved Giants team, the decision to play Gathers should be a no brainer. Gathers is a mismatch nightmare, 6’8 , athletic, fast, great jumping ability, and good hands. Adding a weapon like him to an offense with Zeke and Dak along with Beasely, Gallup, Williams, Tavon Austin and Allen Hurn would make the offense potent again as long as the O-Line performs like it did in 2016.

    • Will

      Our TE position is predicated on blocking. While I too love Rico, he will end up being our 3rd down TE as the pass catcher and end zone threat. Rico can’t block like an extra o lineman, Schultz is the best in this year’s class at blocking, and at the end of the day, our offense flows through Zeke, so don’t be shocked when Schultz starts

    • Hobbes49

      Wasn’t Gathers on IR with a severe concussion last year?

      • Tommy Davis

        Folks, no one has a concussion for an entire season, that was Cowboys management manipulation of the 53 man roster. Most games Witten was the only tight end dressed.

        • Hobbes49

          I am not saying the Cowboys didn’t hold him out for some other reason, but a concussion can most absolutely last well over one year from a symptom standpoint. Depends entirely on the severity. Doesn’t really make sense they wouldn’t have given him a shot if he was physically able.

    • Troy

      FYI Tommy…You cannot go by Schultz’s numbers. His Junior and Senior season at Stanford they played mucical QB’s. They really struggled at QB which really effected every players numbers. They have always been a rn first team, but much more so the past two years. He will be a good one I belive; good size, speed and the guys has good hands.

      Also, I am all in on Rico. Hopefully he can stay healthy this year as he was on IR all year with concussion like symptoms. The guy can be a beast if he can come around. He has all the tools to be GREAT…but will he?

    • GoNavyBeatArmy

      He wasn’t ‘productive’ in the passing game because that isn’t how Stanford uses their TEs. They use them primarily for blocking in the run game.

      How do you know Rico is ‘talented’? It’s ludicrous to proclaim a player who hasn’t played a single snap in the regular NFL season ‘talented’, especially when that player has never played TE. Does he have potential? Certainly, but there’s a ton to learn about the TE position, route running, defensive play adjustment, blocking, blitz recognition. Rico hasn’t had any experience with any of that and the injury he suffered last TC cost him an entire year of experience.

      • Tommy Davis

        Preseason prepares you for the regular season, and in case you did not see him, he excelled and blocked adequately as well. He ran good routes, created separation, caught balls in traffic and was just a beast. No other tight end on the Cowboys roster can do those things. As far as the blocking goes, 90% of Zeke’s running is between the tackles. Witten rarely blocked for Zeke from his tight end position. When the Cowboys run a sweep with Tavon Austin and they feel the need to put in a better blocking tight end, they can do so. But as far as the passing game, Gathers is a no brainer.

  • Will

    Couldn’t agree more. Schultz is more productive than most think offensively, too. I live in Nor Cal, and I went to a handful of Stanford games over the last few years. When Stanford used him in the passing game, he more than held his own

  • Hobbes49

    Real good article. But no mention of Jarwin in regards to guys already on the roster. The Cowboys called him up to keep the Eagles from snatching him, they must think he has something to offer

  • Mike Mcdermott

    Hope he can play some. Swaim the starter, really? That guy didn’t do a thing at Texas. Can’t believe Gathers, even without college FB experience, can’t start over him!

  • Ervinlang318

    No one was getting on the field if Witten had anything to say about it. Didnt matter if Novacek was his backup, Novacek was gonna have a season long concussion as well

Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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Dallas Cowboys

Earl Thomas: Age is Just a Number Part II

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Hablemos de Earl Thomas, la NFL Sigue Equivocándose
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Yesterday, I wrote a piece attempting to assuage the fears that many in Cowboys Nation have about handing a contract extension out to Earl Thomas, who is 29 years old as we enter the 2018 NFL season.

In the comment section, a reader posed a very good question that is the basis for the rest of this article:

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond

It's a great question that certainly required some research, but Cowboys fans all across the world should be encouraged by my findings.

Just to refresh, here are the players we looked at as favorable comparisons to Earl Thomas at this point in his career. I searched Pro Football Reference for safeties who had at least three All-Pro First Team selections and at least six Pro Bowl appearances.

Considering an Earl Thomas Extension, Age is just a Number

The average age of the players listed at the time when they reached their third All-Pro was 31 years old. I'm removing Deion Sanders and Roger Wehrli from the equation as most of their work was done at cornerback.

Let's look at a chart that outlines what these guys careers looked like at age 29 and beyond to get a better picture. Remember, Earl Thomas already has three All-Pro selections and six Pro Bowls. Many of these guys didn't reach those kind of accolades until their 30s.

Earl Thomas Comparisons at age 29 and Beyond 1

Click image to view at full size.

The first thing I noticed as I looked into this question is that only two players had three or more All-Pro First Team selections prior to age 29, like Earl Thomas has. Those players were Rod Woodson and Ronnie Lott. Every other player on this list didn't hit their third All-Pro selection until age 29 or later.

Only one player reached his sixth Pro Bowl prior to his age 29 season, that player is Ronnie Lott, who many NFL Analysts consider to be the greatest safety of all-time. Most of the players didn't achieve their third All-Pro selection until their age 29 season or later. Earl Thomas reached his third All-Pro selection at age 25.

Here's a hot take for you: Earl Thomas, when it's all said and done could be considered the greatest safety of all-time.  I'll just leave that there to marinate and if a trade does happen, we'll come back to that.

Back to the chart.

Another thing I want to point out is that none of these players were 100% healthy. Such is the life in the NFL, especially as you get older, but they were available for at least 14 games a majority of their seasons aged 29 or later. Health is an unpredictable animal in the NFL, but the safety position allows for much more longevity than many other positions. And as the chart depicts, it's a position that ages well.

So, as you can see in the chart, players who were highly productive prior to their age 29 season were also highly productive for several seasons after. These players went onto average almost seven more years in the league from their age 29 seasons.

Most players continued to average a healthy amount of interceptions. The player that saw the biggest decline from the early part of his career to the post-29 part of his career was Brian Dawkins. The former Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos safety went from three interceptions per season prior to 29 to 1.9 interceptions per season 29 and after.

When it comes to the safety position, the elite seem to be able to get the most of their bodies and their abilities and can prolong their prime. The position relies as much on intelligence and awareness as it does quickness and athleticism. Earl Thomas has the mental capacity to play the game for many more years and there's been zero evidence to suggest that he is experiencing any physical decline.

At the rate of his career that he's on, Earl Thomas is destined for the Hall of Fame. He's one of the faces of the Legion of Boom defense that propelled the Seattle Seahawks into the elite category of teams in the early part of this decade.

If and when an Earl Thomas trade does occur, don't sweat an extension for Thomas.

Thomas' credentials put him in an elite group of players who played the game for a very long time and there's no reason to believe he won't continue to do so.

The Dallas Cowboys aren't that far off from having a Super Bowl contending defense built in the image of the Seattle Seahawks. Going to get the All-Pro, future Hall of Fame safety is the final piece to the to the Dallas Cowboys completing construction on "Doomsday III." 

Everything else is there for the Dallas Cowboys, now all they have to do is: Go. Get. Earl!



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Dallas Cowboys

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN

John Williams

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A Fully Focused Ezekiel Elliott can Carry the Cowboys into 2018 Playoffs 2
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.

The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.

Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.

Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPNAnd here is the ESPN list:

SportsCenter on Twitter

43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.

I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.

But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.

Ridiculous.

Shameful even.

The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.

Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Kareem Hunt. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.

Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.

I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.

I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.

"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.

Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.

This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.



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