8 Cowboys off to disappointing starts eight weeks into the 2023 season

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Luke Schoonmaker, TE

Another rookie who’s unequivocally disappointed is the Cowboys second pick in the 2023 draft, Luke Schoonmaker. The tenured rookie came to Dallas as a ready-made solution to the Cowboys’ questions at TE.

While many felt good about Jake Ferguson picking up the slack in the post-Dalton Schultz period in Dallas, the Cowboys clearly had reservations. TEs are typically a lower value position in the NFL. Good ones can be found late, as evidenced by Ferguson (fourth round), Schultz (fourth round), and even Jason Witten (third round).

But Dallas was obviously concerned about Ferguson’s ability to seamlessly pick up where Schultz left off. They wouldn’t have used the 58th pick in the draft for a TE2 or an insurance policy, after all. Expectations were there.

Outside Dallas, Schoonmaker was regarded as a third or even fourth-round prospect in the draft class. The Cowboys saw him as a player with untapped potential as a pass-catcher. Like Ferguson, who they drafted a year prior, Schoonmaker came from a run-heavy offense. He was a high-floor prospect who should be able to hit the ground running as a pro.  

But a lingering injury delayed his training camp and Ferguson’s rise to the top of the league’s TE boards, has relegated Schoonmaker to TE2 for the foreseeable future. In the opportunities Schoonmaker’s had, he’s struggled.

The rookie has graded poorly as a blocker and even worse as a pass catcher. He has two drops on just seven targets and has most recently faced criticism for his shallow goal line route that might have cost the Cowboys the game in Philadelphia.

The Cowboys’ high-floor/low-ceiling draft pick isn’t quite as ready-made as once imagined. He’s older than Ferguson but looks lightyears behind the Cowboys top TE.

Like Smith at DT, Schoonmaker’s not destined for bust status or anything dramatic such as that. But his play eight weeks into the season is extremely disappointing nonetheless, and without any viable options behind him on the depth chart, Dallas desperately needs him to elevate his game.

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