There has been a lot of chatter this offseason regarding the Dallas Cowboys tight end room. Whether it was discussing the contract situation of franchise tagged tight end Dalton Schultz, to the drafting of another tight end in the fourth round of this year’s draft, Jake Ferguson. The name that hasn’t been coming to the minds of many, and has been almost the forgotten one in the tight end group is Sean McKeon.
McKeon, is a Massachusetts native who played his college ball in Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Wolverines. He wasn’t a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school when he was rated a three-star by all the major recruiting outlets. As a tight end prospect at a high school where the ball wasn’t thrown around a lot, it was an uphill battle for him to be recruited by the big schools. However, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh saw enough of McKeon, and offered him a scholarship and just two weeks later McKeon committed to the school on June 15, 2015.
After becoming an early enrollee on January 11, 2016, McKeon was off to an early start at Michigan. As a freshman, McKeon saw limited playing time but did make an impact on the scout team and was twice named the offensive scout player of the week. His stat totals for his freshman year were two receptions for 10 yards. One could understand the lack of production as a freshman simply because he was learning the ropes of the Jim Harbaugh’s offense and adjusting to the Division-1 level of collegiate football.
His sophomore year in 2017 is when McKeon posted his best statistical numbers, catching 31 balls for 301 yards and three touchdowns in 10 starts and appeared in all 13 games during the season. After the season concluded, he was nominated by the media as an All-Big Ten honoree.
During his junior year of 2018, McKeon’s stats took a dip due to sharing the snaps at tight end with future fifth rounder Zach Gentry. He finished the year with 14 receptions for 122 yards and one touchdown. However, his game did improve significantly in one particular area as he focused on becoming a better blocker and made a major leap in that department from the year prior. By seasons end, he was nominated as an All-Big Ten selection.
His fourth and final season donning the Maize and Blue in 2019 saw a slight decrease in receptions as he caught 13 passes as compared to the 14 he caught the year prior. However, his yardage totals increased to 235 yards on the season and also he added two touchdowns to the stat sheet. Where McKeon saw his most improvement was in his ability to stretch the field, as he averaged over 18 yards per reception, and if it weren’t for injury, he was on pace to have a career year.
After his college career had concluded at Michigan, his focus turned to becoming an NFL player. Unfortunately for McKeon, timing couldn’t have been worse as his chance to showcase his skills at Michigan’s Pro Day was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not deterred, McKeon and others decided to have their own sort of pro day to showcase their talents. At this showcase, McKeon performed well as he ran a 4.72 40-yard dash and his vertical jump was measured at 35 inches.
Many pundits heading into the 2020 NFL draft mentioned McKeon as project TE who could sneak in at the back end of the draft but was more than likely a priority free agent. McKeon who is listed at 6-5 and 238 pounds, was looked at as a slightly undersized tight end who needed to fill out his frame and also continue to work on his route-running skills. On the plus side, McKeon is a really good athlete and in the past has ran in the 4.6’s for his 40 time which is on the higher end at the position. He also does not drop passes and possesses great hand eye coordination with no fear of defenders as he goes across the middle to make a catch. The raw natural talent at the tight end position is most certainly there for McKeon. With some coaching up, as well as more on the job training at the professional level, there is a chance that he could become a quality NFL player when it’s all said and done.
Although McKeon was not drafted, the Cowboys made him a priority as they signed him shortly after the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft. It was apparent from the get go that Dallas saw enough of the “project” tight end to bring him in and see if they can make a pro out of him.
His rookie year of 2020 was essentially a season where he could get acclimated to the NFL game. He recorded only 65 snaps on offense, and did most of his work on special teams by tallying a total of 138 snaps. He did not record any stats on the year but did well enough on the special teams unit to play in 14 games. Considering the position he was in when joining the team as an undrafted rookie free agent, he needed to perform well in that facet of the game to make the squad, and he did.
His second year with the Cowboys in 2021 was a bit of a bumpy road for McKeon as he suffered a high ankle sprain during the preseason. In a procedural move by Dallas, he was then moved over to injured reserve until week nine of the regular season. It wasn’t until week 10 that McKeon recorded any stats, as he caught two balls for 15 yards. Just two weeks later on Thanksgiving, he scored his first career NFL touchdown vs the Raiders as seen here. By season’s end, he finished the 2021 season with four catches for 27 yards and the one touchdown. Those stats will not blow anyone away, however it is a positive sign to come as injuries did cause McKeon to only play in nine games on the year.
This offseason, he got involved in a workout with Dak Prescott and a few of his offensive weapons.
Of all the current Cowboys players to be at this workout, McKeon was the one that stood out the most due to his lack of statistical productivity to date or recent draft status. Could this be a sign of bigger things to come? One thing is for sure, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be one of the few players to get in some extra work during the offseason with the team’s franchise quarterback. Looking at this highlight reel below, albeit from his college days, McKeon has some game to him. Based on his athleticism, great hands, and blocking ability, one would think he has a very good shot at having a solid season ahead.