FRISCO, Texas — As the tight end board began to see top talents get plucked away by seam-stretching-hungry offenses on Friday night, Dallas sat back and made a calculated approach to its selection at No. 58 and ended up nabbing a versatile playmaker that the front office sees as somebody that can make the tight end room even more flexible.
Michigan tight end Luke Schoonmaker has a stamped history of excelling in run blocking off the line, but it was his versatility and ability to play in different areas that Mike McCarthy's offense requires of tight ends that led into the decision to take the 6-foot-5, 251-pound Connecticut native.
"This is an excellent tight end class," Mike McCarthy said in the post-day two presser. "I think they all have specific skills, and what I really liked about Luke was that he was really well-rounded. We like everything about his physical traits, but his ability to play the Y position and off-the-ball; his vertical presence, we think we can really build off of that. As a play-caller and a game plan designer, these tight ends allow you to get in different personnel groups and get creative to be able to attack in a one-back, two-back, no-back offense."
It's clear that the pick at tight end going into the draft had one mission: to create flexibility and creativity within the offense by stacking a versatile tight end weapon on top of the variety that's already in the room. Schoonmaker has experience at all four areas of tight end positioning that McCarthy uses at the position, which led to the selection on Friday night.
"In a 17-game season, all of these guys in the tight end room are going to contribute," McCarthy said. "I would definitely view him as a starter-type as far as his impact. He will clearly play all four positions in the tight end area: on the line, off the ball, weak back and displaced. There won't be a whole lot that he hasn't done that we'll ask him to do."
Schoonmaker will combine his physical traits and versatility with Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot and Sean McKeon in the tight end room, which is something the Michigan product is already eager to do.
"All of my tight end guys, my former teammate Sean McKeon, all three of those guys," Schoonmaker said. "I'm so excited to be with them. Through the years, I've watched them, played against them. It's surreal to be able to play with them now."
Being able to play with them will almost be like four Swiss Army knives trying to figure out which one is sharpest in each role, but for McCarthy, it's a luxury that can only spread out his offense from first to fourth down.
"You want the versatility in the tight end group," McCarthy said. "The ability to be in one tight end, two tight ends, three tight ends-type personnel groups. I've always felt between tight ends and linebacker body types, those are the guys that can play four downs. You can't have enough of them on your football team."