NFL Draft News & Analysis

2023 NFL Draft: How TE Luke Schoonmaker fits with the Cowboys' offense

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Luke Schoonmaker (86) against the TCU Horned Frogs in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Dallas Cowboys selected Michigan tight end Luke Schoonmaker with their second-round pick.
  • Well-rounded: Schoonmaker's all-around talent should enable him to contribute early in his career.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

After securing Michigan nose tackle Mazi Smith in the first round, the Dallas Cowboys went back to the Wolverine well in Round 2, selecting tight end Luke Schoonmaker with the 58th overall pick. Additionally, just like Smith has a direct route to making a Year 1 impact, Schoonmaker is also set up to contribute from the moment he touches the field in a Cowboys uniform. 

Schoonmaker is an older prospect (24 years old) but oozes NFL-caliber traits that made him an intriguing second-round target.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds with a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, the former Michigan tight end has the physical traits to be a mismatch weapon in the passing game. He's not quite there yet, but subtle improvements as a route runner and at the catch point could enable him to be a more productive receiver in the NFL than he ever was in college.

His elite athleticism (9.86 relative athletic score) gives him a sky-high pass-catching ceiling, as he has the speed to stretch the seam, the agility to create separation in and out of his breaks and the size combined with the leaping ability to present a mismatch even in contested-catch situations. Schoonmaker's athleticism, paired with his lower-body flexibility and physicality, gives him an incredibly high ceiling as a route runner, which would be a welcome sight for quarterback Dak Prescott.

Schoonmaker is the big-bodied target that can prove to be an effective outlet for Prescott, and don't be surprised if he does a better job generating yards after the catch than Dalton Schultz did in previous seasons, as he does a phenomenal job of quickly transitioning into being a runner after securing the catch.

Luckily, while he develops as a pass-catcher, Schoonmaker has the blocking ability to make an impact immediately, showing a strong latch and impressive ability to create open running lanes on the edge. Schoonmaker is one of the few tight ends who is a capable blocker both in-line and out in space, giving him the flexibility to be moved around the formation and still be a weapon in the running game.

Schoonmaker should fit in well in Dallas' tight end room, as he should complement Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot exceedingly well, giving the team a young, three-headed monster to lead the position into the future. His athleticism makes him a seam-stretching threat, which the team has desperately needed since Jason Witten‘s athleticism started to wane late in his career.

Dallas will also continue to have the freedom to flow from 11 personnel (three receivers, one tight end, one running back) to 12 (two receivers, two tight ends, one running back) and 13 (one receiver, three tight ends, one running back) personnel packages to keep defenses on their toes and attack mismatches. The Cowboys' ability to attack defenses in a variety of ways is, in a lot of ways, the foundation of their offensive success, and the Schoonmaker pick just emboldens that idea even more.

While I had prospects such as Northwestern's Adetomiwa Adebawore and Georgia's Darnell Washington rated higher, it's understandable that Dallas went in Schoonmaker's direction given the need at tight end and the medical red flags associated with Washington. 

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