Replacing a legend is never easy, in fact it’s usually impossible. But entering the 2018 season it’s exactly what the Cowboys need to do at the tight end position.
Jason Witten’s retirement has shined the light on a less-than exciting position group in Dallas, as the Cowboys attempt to use a plethora of unproven players to fill his giant shoes. During the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected Stanford tight end Dalton Schultz, hoping that somewhere down the line he could help fill that hole.
Due to both the talent in his position group at Stanford and their offensive scheme, Schultz didn’t see much action through the air in college. He came into the draft known more as a blocking tight end, but reports around training camp indicate that Schultz might possess the most complete skill set of any of the current Cowboys tight ends.
This is, of course, yet to be seen, but Dalton Schultz will have his first opportunity to prove his worth Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers. Despite being slotted as the fourth and final tight end on the depth chart entering the night, Schultz should see plenty of action in the preseason opener.
Rico Gathers is his main competition for the TE3 spot, and each of them will get a ton of second half action with quarterbacks Cooper Rush, Mike White, and Dalton Sturm.
Schultz will need to prove his worth not only as a run blocker, but also as a vertical passing threat. Gathers made his mark early on during the 2017 preseason as a pass catcher, but if Schultz can prove to be more well-rounded player he will have a good chance to take his spot.
Special teams will also play a big role in this position battle. If you’re going to dress 3-4 tight ends each Sunday, they’ll need to provide value on kickoff or kick return. Once again, Schultz should get some opportunities to prove that he can make these plays throughout the preseason, and that all begins tonight against the 49ers.