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Next Man Up: Big jump needed from Schoonmaker


Like many teams around the league, the Cowboys sent a strong message in free agency. However, it wasn't in the form of adding a lot of players or keeping the majority of their own. What seems clear for the Cowboys is their willingness to give opportunities to younger players on the team.

This roster is loaded with players still on their rookie contracts that haven't had that breakout season just yet. Could it be this year? The Cowboys can only hope, especially considering they signed just two players in free agency and currently have just six picks in the NFL Draft later this month.

So the Cowboys have to lean on some of their previous drafts and free-agent signings to help fill out this roster.

Today, we'll continue the series with tight end Luke Schoonmaker.

  • Name: Luke Schoonmaker
  • Position: Tight End
  • Experience: 2nd Year
  • Games Played/Starts: 17 / 0
  • Years Left on Contract: 3
  • How Acquired: 2nd round pick, 2023 (Michigan)
  • Key Stat: Tied KaVonte Turpin for team-lead in touchdown percentage with 25 percent of his catches resulting in a TD. Schoonmaker had two TD catches on eight receptions and Turpin had three on 12 catches.

The Past: In just one season, Schoonmaker had an interesting rookie year. While injuries were a factor, especially in the offseason and training camp, he played all 17 games and one more in the playoffs. So he was available, but didn't have the sudden impact as the Cowboys might have hoped for a second-round pick. There were some other factors that went into play, including Jake Ferguson's explosion in the offense in his second season. Ferguson established himself as the starter, leaving Schoonmaker to find a role, more as a blocker and occasional pass-catcher. He caught eight passes all year but scored twice. Finding consistency was a problem for Schoonmaker, who only had one game last year with multiple catches, recording two receptions against Carolina.

The Present: Considering how Ferguson made a huge leap in Year 2, the Cowboys can only hope for that kind of jump for Schoonmaker. Now, the difference is that Ferguson is obviously still in the picture as the starter so there might not be as many opportunities for a breakout season for Schoonmaker. Still, if he can stay healthy in the offseason and camp, which would allow him to be even more comfortable in the offense. There is still a role for a second tight end, especially one that is considered a strong blocker. That will keep him on the field. If he can take that jump from a confidence/knowledge standpoint, this could be a much better season for Schoonmaker.

The Future: Considering that Ferguson is just one year ahead of him, Schoonmaker will have his work cut out for him to eventually become the starting tight end. That doesn't mean he can't carve out an important role in the offense and provide a stellar 1-2 punch with Ferguson. Staying healthy, getting comfortable with Dak Prescott and being a dominant run-blocker will be vital for Schoonmaker to thrive not only this year but over the next three seasons.

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