Most As it pertains to who the Dallas Cowboys decided to keep and who they cut to get under the league mandated 53-man limit earlier this week, the decision to keep Hunter Luepke on the roster was somewhat of a surprise. The undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State was considered a long shot to make the team by many, but the Cowboys must have a role in mind for him this season to keep around over others.
Outside of Tony Pollard taking over the lead back role this season with Ezekiel Elliott now out of the picture, the mystery as to how the Cowboys will divvy up the touches behind him is still one of the ultimate unknowns as we head into the 2023 season. Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, and Hunter Luepke all bring something different to the table, however, the latter of the three might have the best shot to play a significant role this year.
At 6'1", 238-pounds, the North Dakota State product has the versatility to play a variety of roles in his first year with the Cowboys. He will no doubt make his bones as a special teams player to begin with, but as the season progresses it wouldn’t be at all that surprising to see him earn more and more playing time on offense in certain situations. His unique skill set is something the Cowboys can tap into in so many different ways
While Luepke may be listed as a fullback on the roster, it would be unwise to pigeonhole him to just that one position. In fact, he could be called upon early and often to replace some of the things Ezekiel Elliott did so well over the years for the Dallas Cowboys.
Last season alone Zeke scored 14 touchdowns for the Cowboys in the red zone in both the regular season and playoffs. His ability to grind out the tough yards in short yardage situations or on the goal line won't easily be replaced. That's not one of Tony Pollard's strengths as a runner, but it is one of Hunter Luepke's. It's a role he could potentially thrive in as a rookie.
Luepke has the powerful, hard-nosed running style required to grind out the tough yards down after down. On top of that, he's surprisingly well-balanced and shifty for a player with his size. Add all of that up and it makes him a difficult player to bring down, something that was on full display when he racked up 118 total yards and a touchdown against the Los Angeles Raiders in the preseason finale last week.
Most of the yardage he gained against the Raiders last week in the preseason finale came through the air where he showcased his skill as a receiver. This could indicate he could be utilized in an H-back type of role if the Cowboys so choose. It could be why Luepke stuck around on the roster over someone like Sean McKeon, a more traditional tight end.
So, whether it's as a runner between the tackles, a receiver out of the backfield, a pass protector, short yardage/goal line back, or an H-back, Hunter Luepke possesses a unique and versatile skill set to do a lot of different things for the Cowboys this year. It has to be something that's in the back of the coaching staff's minds even now.
All this of course is speculation right now until we see further proof as to what kind of role the Cowboys have in mind for Hunter Luepke. But, when it comes to replacing some of the things Zeke did so well as a runner, receiver, and pass protector there may not be a better option to fill that void then the UDFA RB. Keep that in mind you watch No. 40 when he takes the field this year for the Cowboys.