5 Things We’ve Learned About Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz
The Cowboys selected tight end Dalton Schultz from Stanford University in the 4th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Schultz just wrapped-up Rookie Camp at The Star in Frisco. Here are “5 Things to Know” about Schultz:
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Schultz Will Have an Immediate Opportunity to Make a Big Impact
Since 2003, when a young rookie named Jason Witten worked his way into the starting lineup, it’s been hard for other tight ends on the Cowboys’ roster to get playing time. That’s because Jason Witten was on the field for about 99% of offensive snaps.
Even though the Cowboys used second-round draft picks on tight ends like Anthony Fasano, Martellus Bennett, and Gavin Escobar, all those guys played second-fiddle to Witten in terms of snap counts and opportunities in the passing game.
But that is going to change this year. Witten has retired to become a broadcaster for Monday Night Football. And his top backup, James Hanna, has retired because of recurring knee problems.
Without Witten and Hanna, the returning veterans at tight end (Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, and Rico Gathers) have combined for 9 catches for 94 yards in an NFL regular season game (all by Swaim).
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Schultz Knows Expectations Are Higher Than Normal Because of Jason Witten’s Retirement
There will be a huge spotlight on Schultz and the rest of the tight ends this year because Jason Witten is gone. Schultz knows that media and fans are expecting big things from him this year, hoping he can become a new version of Witten and comparing him to the future Hall of Famer.
“I think those comparisons are things that some people like to do, but at the end of the day, you go in with that same mindset that you are going to approach every day the same way and dominate everything you do,” says Schultz. “(Witten) is definitely a guy that I have watched on film and learned from and tried to emulate in my own game throughout college.”
Schultz Is Much More NFL-Ready than Other Rookie Tight Ends
The Cowboys are high on Schultz’s potential to become an immediate contributor as a rookie, particularly as a blocker, because he played at Stanford University in a pro-style offense under head coach David Shaw.
So much of college football today features wide-open offenses in which tight ends are more like wide receivers and they don’t have to block as much as old-style tight ends.
Schultz’s primary role in the Stanford offense was to block. He played at the end of the line, as a traditional tight end, not split-out wide or in the slot. He didn’t get too many chances to run pass routes, but when he did, he proved he’s a good pass-catcher. In 33 games, he caught 55 passes for 5 touchdowns.
“The first thing that you are told when you are a tight end at Stanford is that you have to be ready to block and willing to block,” notes Schultz. “I think they look for guys that love to do that, especially with the amount of power that we run in our offense. You have to be willing to get your nose dirty and really get in there.”
When Schultz says “the amount of power we run in our offense” at Stanford, he’ll find the same thing with the Cowboys. Dallas features a power run game with Ezekiel Elliott gaining ground behind an excellent offensive line. That’s the Cowboys’ style of offense.
James D. Smith via AP
The New Cowboys Tight End Coach Has Been Watching Schultz Since High School
The Cowboys have a completely new look at tight end this year, including the coaching staff. Doug Nussmeier takes over for Steve Loney who retired following the 2017 season. Nussmeier was coaching college football when Schultz was being recruited out of high school. Nussmeier was the quarterbacks coach at Alabama, then Michigan, as Schultz was getting tons of scholarship offers.
“Coach Nussmeier and I go back to when I was getting recruited, so I think there was a connection there that lasted back to high school,” recalls Schultz. “Getting to talk to him again is awesome and I think that hopefully that had a part in the decision (to bring me to Dallas).”
Schultz Is About to Become a Daddy
If you think getting drafted by the Dallas Cowboys is the ultimate life-changing experience, think again. Schultz and his girlfriend are expecting their first child. The baby is due mid-August which is smack-dab in the middle of Cowboys Training Camp. And you know how it is with babies…they determine their own arrival date. So, it will be interesting to see which Schultz will do first: catch a pass in a Cowboys preseason game, or change his baby’s diaper?