When news of Jason Witten’s retirement stunned the NFL world — including those inside The Star — entering day two of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys were seemingly put in position to fill yet another need with the 50th and 81st overall picks.
Sticking to their board and letting the draft come to them, the Cowboys drafted starting Left Guard Connor Williams and Wide Receiver Michael Gallup in the second and third rounds instead. A vote of confidence in current tight ends Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin, the team did add Stanford’s Dalton Schultz the following day at 137th overall.
After firing up the film of Stanford’s pro-style offense, here is my full scouting report on the Cowboys newest Tight End Dalton Schultz.
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The best thing Dalton Schultz can do to stand out in Dallas is continue playing as a tenacious run blocker. This is easily the most noticeable part of Schultz’s otherwise lackluster game.
With inline blocking experience, something the Cowboys will ask him to do much more of, Schultz plays with impressively powerful hands and a competitive drive to finish blocks. Every rep might not be pretty for the 6053 (6’5 3/8″) 244-pound TE, but Schultz can be trusted as a get-in-the-way blocker with the awareness and timing to make this technique work.
Watch “Schultz1” on Streamable.
Dalton Schultz looks for work as a blocker, never going a play without throwing his lean but compact frame around to make his presence felt. This is a player who understands his own physical limitations and makes up for them with upper body power and leverage.
As a receiver, Schultz was limited to just 55 career catches at Stanford. When targeted in traffic though, Schultz will hang onto the ball with soft hands and isn’t afraid of contact after the catch. Schultz finds the sticks on critical down and distances, falling forward whenever needed to move the chains.
For most teams, Dalton Schultz’s limitations as a receiver would be a considerable weakness given how tight ends are utilized in the NFL now. The Cowboys will get plenty of value out of Schultz as a blocker, although this isn’t to say he comes without difficulties in this facet of the game.
Relying on his initial contact and hand strength to set up blocks, Schultz will get overpowered by defenders who catch him leaning up the field. Schultz is easily steered at the point of attack against rush moves, lacking the thick base to re-anchor and sustain.
As a route runner, Schultz is entirely raw. Testing as a slightly better athlete than physical specimen, Schultz is simply not beating coverage with any deception or sharpness to his movement. It takes a while for Schultz to get going up the field, where running straight down the middle was typically the only way he uncovered, once the ball is out of his QB’s hands.
As mentioned, the Cowboys like what they have in Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin as athletic options to develop at tight end. My expectations for both players is that they’ll make the most of their opportunity to shine, tempering initial expectations for Dalton Schultz in Dallas.
Schultz can certainly help the Cowboys in multiple tight end packages, and he’s worth the long-term project as a player ahead of the curve with pro-style experience.
Whether it be Ezekiel Elliott, Tavon Austin, or Bo Scarbrough escaping around the corner this preseason, look for Dalton Schultz to land the sealing block.
Watch “Schultz3” on Streamable.
The Cowboys will never be able to replace Jason Witten, but continuing to add players in his competitive image is the best they can do — addressing TE in the fourth round of this year’s draft with Dalton Schultz.