FRISCO – Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz received his NFL baptism by fire. Slotted as a backup behind starter Blake Jarwin, Schultz watched from the sideline as Jarwin went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 in 2020, thrusting Schultz into the starting role.
And he did not disappoint.
That season, Shultz started 14 games and caught 63 passes for 615 yards and four touchdowns. No one questioned his receiving ability. But some questioned his ability to be an effective blocker in the NFL.
In 2021, Schultz’s first full season as a starter, he increased his 2020 production dramatically, with 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. He averaged just over 10 yards per catch.
It was also the last year of his rookie deal for Schultz, which didn’t hurt his cause to receive another contract from Dallas. Rather than re-signing Schultz, however, the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on their fifth-year tight end, which will earn him a $ 10.9 million payday for 2022.
But with that price tag comes expectations, and the 6-5-inch, 255-pound Schultz is expected to be a top-tier blocker, too.
“Tight ends in this league, you’re not going to win based on pure size and strength. You’re just not, ”Schultz said during the Cowboys’ first OTA sessions of the year, which continue this week here inside The Star. “D-ends are big, fast, strong. That’s why they get paid $ 20-mil-plus a year.
They’re freaks. They’re freak athletes. So you’ve got to beat them with technique, you’ve got to beat them with speed, you’ve got to beat them with great footwork. If you’re able to do all of those things that put you in a good position to win. ”
There’s a perception among fans that Schultz is lacking the blocking skills he needs to be a top tight end in the league, which Shultz disagrees with.
Scroll to Continue
“My blocking’s been one of my strong suits,” he countered. “Everybody doesn’t agree with that; everyone has their own opinion on that. But that’s always something I’ve been able to hang my hat on. Now, blocking, like, the Chandler Joneses of the world every play?
“It’s hard. You’re not going to win every rep, and that’s just the NFL. But I think to succeed in this league, you have to have that work ethic of, ‘Okay, I realize this happened, this play happened. I need to move forward from that play. ‘ In the offseason, you need to go back and work hard to correct those things. ”
And there’s video evidence that Schultz’s blocking has improved.
Schultz is continuing to work on his own game while also mentoring younger players behind him, just like someone did for him when he was new to the league and the Cowboys in 2018.
“When I came in, I had a couple of guys that really set the standard,” Schultz recalled. “Geoff Swaim set the standard for me, helped me along.”
Schultz said playing behind some seasoned veterans definitely helped his game develop.
“Obviously, tight end in the NFL is a tough job,” the former fourth-round draft pick explained. “You’re going against guys like DeMarcus Lawrence every week. Everybody’s a D-Law, every team’s a D-Law. You’re asked to do a lot. And you’re asked to do a lot very quickly, especially in this offense. What we ask our tight ends to do is a lot different from some other places. ”
And that’s all part of what Schultz is now helping to teach the rookie tight end, Jake Ferguson.
Cowboys fans and executives can only hope that mentorship helps turn the combination of Shultz and Ferguson into one of the toughest tight end duos in the league – tough guys doing a “tough job.”