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3 tight end draft prospects that make the most sense for the Cowboys

The Cowboys will be in the market for a new tight end, but it might not be what we expect.

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

As soon as Jason Witten left the Dallas Cowboys for the second and final time, the team was presented a gift in the form of third-year player Dalton Schultz. With the opportunity finally there to contribute, Schultz showed himself as a valuable commodity. He eclipsed 575 yards in each of the last three seasons, including a 78-catch, 808-yard season in 2021 where he also caught eight touchdowns. In comparison, Witten never reached 575 yards in either of his final two seasons in Dallas.

But just as Schultz emerged as a reliable receiving target for Dak Prescott, he became too costly for the Cowboys' payroll, and off to Houston he went in free agency this offseason. Now, the team is left looking for answers to strengthen their tight end group. Fortunately, they have two second-year players in Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot who are both coming off nice rookie seasons. Ferguson was a fourth-round pick from a year ago and Hendershot was an undrafted free agent. Not only are the Cowboys sitting in decent shape at tight end, but they have shown that they can sift out quality contributors at the position without using premium draft resources to get it. Even Schultz himself was a fourth-round pick in 2018.

While there are certainly players like Utah’s Dalton Kincaid or Georgia’s Darnell Washington who have a great appeal to fans, it’s very possible the Cowboys don’t oblige by taking one of the better tight ends in this year’s draft. Instead, they could be looking at some “other guys” who won’t cost as much, and that is what we will explore today. Here are three tight ends who would make the most sense for the Cowboys.

Luke Schoonmaker, Michigan

If we want to find the right type of tight end that fits what this team is looking for, then we better come up with a prospect who can block. The Cowboys just don’t go searching for space-tight ends. And that is what creates so much appeal for Schoonmaker. There is nothing mesmerizing about his tape, but he’s very good at his job. He’s a smooth route-runner who gets out into his spots, turns quickly, and is ready for the catch, or as I like to call it, sits it and gets it. He’s very Dalton Schultz-like as he’s a willing blocker who uses his length to seal and is not going to run away from anyone with his athleticism. He’s just effective.

Projected round: 3rd

Cameron Latu, Alabama

Latu has started for the Crimson Tide these past two seasons and he’s played the dual role of inline blocker and receiver. Similar to Schoonmaker, there is nothing flashy about his skills as his speed and strength are mediocre, but he is a very efficient player. He is a smooth route-runner and has a get-it-and-go mentality. Latu will milk every inch out of the catch. He’s quick to engage and has shown a lot of improvement in his hand placement over the last year. He has soft hands and a nose for the end zone catching 12 touchdown passes over the past two seasons.

Projected round: 5th

Brayden Willis, Oklahoma

This Oklahoma tight end isn’t an NFL-ready pass catcher, but his skills as a blocker could help him see the field Sooner rather than later. Willis lives for contact and does a great job sealing the edge. He can contain defenders by smashing at the line or finessing out in space. And while he offers very little as a route-runner and struggles to get open, he does possess the athleticism to make plays once he gets the ball in his hands. Willis is a sound development project who offers upside, and considering he’ll be a late-round prospect, he’s worth taking a flyer on.

Projected round: 6th

Building a better board...

Having a good feel for who the Cowboys are interested in is helpful in gaining an edge on whose name is more likely to be called on draft day. Here is a list of the tight ends who have either had an official 30 visit with the Cowboys, had a formal meeting at the combine, met with the coaches during their Pro Day, or had a private workout with the team.


27 TE Dalton Kincaid Utah 1st Great hands, ace route-runner, makes contested catches
30 TE Darnell Washington Georgia 1st-2nd Defensive end with ball skills, good blocker, weak separator
69 TE Tucker Kraft South Dakota State 2nd Good strength, nice body control, good ball skills
127 TE Luke Schoonmaker Michigan 3rd Good length, smooth route-runner, sit it and get it
161 TE Cameron Latu Alabama 5th Big target, good catch radius, solid blocker, get it and go
210 TE Payne Durham Purdue 5th-6th Great hands, snags passes, solid separator, physical
283 TE Brayden Willis Oklahoma 6th Skilled blocker, good athleticism, upside prospect
NR TE Lachian Pitts William & Mary PFA Long arms, throws defenders around, stiff runner
NR TE Ryan Jones East Carolina PFA Former linebacker, finds creases, great concentration

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