Just moments before day two of the NFL draft, there was certainty that Jason Witten would announce his retirement from the league. A theme that was becoming more apparent in the Cowboys offense, was an upgrade in production from the tight end position. As some hope for the rise of Rico Gathers to finally take place, the successor to the former Cowboys first-ballot, Hall-of-Famer may have been found with their 137th overall pick.
The second of their two picks in the fourth-round, the Dallas Cowboys would draft Stanford tight-end, Dalton Schultz. A 6’5, 244-pound athlete that started in 31 games over three seasons as a Cardinal. He was selected first-team All-Pac-12 as a redshirt-junior. Totaling just 555 yards and 5 touchdowns on 55 catches, it may not seem like a “sexy-pick” to many fans. Described as a below-average athlete that can be beneficial to the team as a blocker, there is more to Schultz’s game that is to be excited about.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) April 28, 2018
Schultz biggest asset has been said to be his blocking, and it is well documented on tape. For someone who underperformed on the bench at the combine, it raises questions. Playing at Stanford, they play similarly to Dallas on offense, in that they love utilizing zone concepts.
The play below came down to the pulling guard and tackle moving the defenders out of the holes, and if Schultz is able to hold his block long enough. As the play begins, Schultz is able to establish a good base and get his hands inside the linebacker’s shoulders, giving him control. Then as soon as soon defender attempts to make a move, Schultz has leverage in catching him off-balance to drive him off his feet.
Here, Schultz is lined up in an “H-back” type of position. One thing about Schultz is he has a good motor to always keep working, or find work on the field. Sprinting out, he is able to set the edge for the running back and take his opponent completely out of the play. Also, notice how Schultz is able to turn the defender on the other side of the play. Sometimes Schultz catches himself turning before engaging the defender, causing people to run right past him, but when he is able to get his hands in there and then do it, here is the result.
Well, can Schultz do that against bigger guys? Although the play was run away from him, Schultz can become serviceable in that area.
Now, the looming question is how well is Schultz as a receiver? His stats would not suggest much, but he is an underrated route runner that knows how to work defenders at the top of his route.
With this play here, notice how Schultz plays the defensive back into separation. A simple curl route, he takes that one outside step suggesting to the defensive back a deeper route, to only break down and getting his head around immediately.
Also, when Schultz runs routes he can get into the motion of making contact with the defender through his route, catching them off-balance, then break off immediately at the top to create space for himself.
Then as someone who can get in and out of his breaks quick, Schultz makes it look filthy at times.
Coming out of college, Stanford head coach David Shaw stated Schultz is the “most complete” tight end he has had in years. From the graphics of his measurables and numbers presented, this may come as a shock, but Dallas may have got a steal in the fourth round.
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