There was no bigger surprise breakout from a returning player for the Dallas Cowboys than Dalton Schultz in 2020. In 2019, Schultz was nothing more than the third tight end on the roster behind Jason Witten and Blake Jarwin. After playing 387 snaps in his rookie season, Schultz played only 117 snaps in his second year.
Then, after Blake Jarwin was hurt in the 2020 season opener, Schultz came into the starting lineup and looked like the player that many thought he could be when the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He logged 973 snaps in 2020 and proved to be a starting-caliber tight end. Schultz was one of the bright spots in an otherwise lost season.
In 2020, Schultz was fifth in the NFL in receptions and 11th in receiving yards. He wasn't the vertical threat or yards after catch weapon that Blake Jarwin was, but he was steady in the passing game and provided solid run blocking.
It's certainly exciting that Blake Jarwin is back, but it shouldn't be a foregone conclusion that he's the starter this season. Dalton Schultz could very well outpace Jarwin because of his 2020 season and because of his blocking. As good as Schultz was in 2020, there seems to be a preconceived notion that he's the backup to the returning Jarwin heading into 2021.
He's a player that's flying under the radar a bit. Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox picked a secret weapon for all 32 teams in the NFL and dubbed the former Stanford product the Dallas Cowboys' secret weapon.
Schultz had a breakout campaign in 2020, catching 63 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns. He provided a passer rating of 95.5 when targeted. He could be even more productive this season if Prescott is pulling the trigger for all 17 games. – Knox
Dalton Schultz's season gets overlooked a bit because of the down season the team had after the loss of Dak Prescott and several offensive line members. However, Schultz was really good in his first opportunity to be a starter. It's likely he'll never be one of the elite receiving threats at tight end, but he proved he could be a reliable player for quarterback Dak Prescott.
He should be considered the starter heading into 2021. Schultz is a better blocker than Jarwin and proved he could be a threat in the passing game. As it stands right now, it's looking like he'll need to overtake Jarwin is back on the practice field.
And as he displayed in 2020, Dalton Schultz is up for the challenge.