When Mike McCarthy became the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he emphasized physicality and becoming a stronger football team. After two days into the 2023 NFL draft, his vision is coming into full view.
On night one, Dallas selected nose tackle Mazi Smith from Michigan and decided to double down on Wolverines, taking tight end Luke Schoonmaker with their second pick.
Pick No. 58: Luke Schoonmaker, TE - Michigan
Schoonmaker spoke about how the conversations with the Cowboys started at the combine but only a little after that. It didn’t matter to the front office.
They clearly circled Schoonmaker as someone who could bring size to McCarthy’s offense with his 6’5”, 251-pound frame and is a plus blocker in the run game. From The Beast, Dane Brugler talked about what he could bring as a blocker, receiver, and overall prospect.
As a pass catcher, Schoonmaker is efficient in his routes and catches the ball well enough, but he is limited after the catch (only four of his 52 receptions the past two seasons went for 25-plus yards). As a blocker, he showed improvements each season and does enough to keep defenders busy, although his pass-pro reps were limited. Overall, Schoonmaker is only average in most areas, but he has the size, speed and strength to be a solid possession receiver and positional blocker. His well-rounded game will help him become a steady No. 2 (and potential No. 1) tight end for an NFL team.
After Dallas watched Sam LaPorta, Michael Mayer, and Luke Musgrave go off the board at the beginning of the second round, it was becoming clear that No. 58 would need to be a tight end if they wanted to get one of their top guys.
Fans can debate whether the Cowboys reached, but this staff has shown the ability to coach rookie tight ends to be reliable starters in year one. For all of the success Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot had last season, adding another one who could become better than them is a great problem to have.
Pick No. 90: DeMarvion Overshown, LB - Texas
Early in the draft process, the Cowboys showed great interest in DeMarvion Overshown. With him playing in the state, it seemed like the perfect fit for him to stay and put a star on his helmet.
Being a local product was not why he was drafted—just icing on the cake. He was a productive linebacker for the Longhorns throughout his collegiate career. As a fifth-year senior, it all came together for him in 2022, when he totaled 96 tackles, ten tackles for loss, four sacks, and five passes defended.
While he is still raw in awareness and doesn’t have a set position on defense, having a defensive coordinator like Dan Quinn in the fold should build confidence for fans. He has a similar versatility to Micah Parsons or Jayron Kearse. If Quinn and the Cowboys can develop him into something resembling those guys, then it quickly becomes a home run selection.
Dallas needed to draft a linebacker at some point to feel confident enough in the group to go into the heart of the offseason. In Week 1, Overshown might only see the field on special teams, but he has the upside to become something more and complement what they already have in Leighton Vander Esch and Damone Clark.
What’s next for Dallas?
Day three of the draft is for the scouts. The Cowboys have one pick remaining in each of the four rounds and have a few remaining holes to fill.
With kicker Jake Moody getting drafted in the third round, Dallas could look at Chad Ryland from Maryland, the best-remaining kicker on ESPN’s big board.
Fellow Longhorn Roschon Johnson is still available, and probably the best remaining at his position, if the Cowboys want to address the backup running back to Tony Pollard. Chase Brown, Israel Abanikanda, Eric Gray, and Zach Evans are also intriguing prospects the front office could take a swing at in the fourth or fifth rounds.
Last but not least would be interior offensive line, with Chandler Zavala staring back as one of the best prospects left. If the Cowboys can’t draft him at No. 129, it’s because he went very early on day three. Atonio Mafi and Anthony Bradford are two names to know and could provide early into training camp and come out being the starter at left guard if all goes well.
The theme of this draft has turned into “drafting players we didn’t see coming.” If Will McClay and his staff have shown us anything, it’s been the ability to know more than we do when drafting plug-and-play talent. If this class follows suit, it could become a sneaky good class when looking back in five years.