Cowboys' Luke Schoonmaker pick looks even worse after concerning update

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Las Vegas Raiders v Dallas Cowboys / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

Part of the reason Dallas Cowboys fans are so frustrated by the team's lack of spending in free agency is that it puts that much more pressure on the NFL Draft. Granted, the Cowboys have been the gold standard of drafting, but things took a turn for the worse in 2023.

The Cowboys essentially got zero production from their 2023 class. While fans are still hopeful that Mazi Smith will come good with proper coaching and playing a permanent position, second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker has left little room for confidence.

While Schoonmaker blocked well as a rookie, he caught just eight passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns. He played all 18 games but was absent for most of the offseason program, including training camp, with a plantar fasciitis injury.

The injury could be to blame for Schoonmaker's lackluster year, but you'd still expect more production from a second-round pick. Heading into an important year two, Schoonmaker is once again battling an injury.

Speaking to the media at the league meetings in Orlando, head coach Mike McCarthy revealed Schoonmaker recently underwent shoulder surgery.

Cowboys TE Luke Schoonmaker underwent offseason shoulder surgery

Let's start by giving credit to Schoonmaker for battling through the injury to play all 18 games. There's something to be said about that, but this update is concerning on multiple fronts. For starters, injuries were the biggest knock on Schoonmaker coming out of Michigan.

He aggravated a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during the Fiesta Bowl, so he was essentially injured when the Cowboys drafted him. The aforementioned foot injury prevented him from getting on the field early into training camp. His absence allowed undrafted gem John Stephens Jr. to enter the spotlight and Stephens made the most of the opportunity.

Stephens was trending toward making the 53-man roster and likely would've had a sizable role on the offense before he tore his ACL in preseason.

Schoonmaker will have the upper hand because of where he was drafted and is more refined as a blocker, but shoulder surgery could once again allow Stephens to get first-team reps, assuming he's recovered from his own surgery.

Nevertheless, this adds another black eye to the Schoonmaker pick. It was questioned at the time given Jake Ferguson looked the part of a TE1 as a rookie. Sure enough, Ferguson broke out in year two to the tune of 71 catches for 765 yards and five touchdowns. He's now considered a building block of the team.

Drafting a second-string tight end is fine, but using a second-round pick to do so felt wasteful. Some players the Cowboys could have selected instead of Schoonmaker include OL O'Cyrus Torrence, LB Drew Sanders, WR Tank Dell, DL Byron Young, RBs Tyjae Spears and De'Von Achane, and WR Josh Downs.

We'd be happy to eat crow here, but right now it feels like Schoonmaker, who turns 26 (!!!) in September, won't live up to his second-round billing.

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