As an NFL draft prospect, your landing spot is a big component regarding if you will develop into a productive pro or become a bust.
This isn’t to say that some players can excel regardless of the team that selects them. EDGE Myles Garrett or CB Jalen Ramsey who likely do well with nearly any team that took them when coming out of the draft, both being Pro Bowl-caliber players that have excelled on good rosters as well as bad ones.
However, some players require more of a scheme fit or the right opportunity to see playing time in an environment with a winning culture to reach their potential. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report recently published a piece that listed eight players he felt got drafted by the wrong team during the 2023 NFL Draft. One name he felt landed in the wrong spot was Michigan TE Luke Schoonmaker who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, listing the Pittsburgh Steelers as a better fit for the rookie TE.
“The 24-year-old would have been better off landing with a team that has an established No. 1 tight end and in a more suitable draft range,” Knox said regarding Schoonmaker. “Had the Pittsburgh Steelers taken him 93rd overall, for example, he could have developed behind Pat Freiermuth as an occasional contributor with more reasonable expectations. The Steelers ultimately used that selection on Georgia tight end Darnell Washington.”
The Dallas Cowboys used the 59th overall pick on Schoonmaker, making him one of seven tight ends that went before Washington in the 2023 NFL Draft. Schoonmaker was a player that many here at Steelers Depot envisioned potentially becoming a Steeler, having the ideal frame and playstyle the team looks for at the TE position. He is an accomplished blocker as well as a capable receiver, having the ability to make possession catches as well as create a little after the catch. Pittsburgh sent TE Coach Alfredo Roberts to Michigan’s Pro Day to watch Schoonmaker, making him a target to circle as a potential draft choice.
However, Pittsburgh and most Steelers fans are perfectly fine with how everything transpired on draft night. Schoonmaker went nearly a full round before Darnell Washington, meaning Pittsburgh would’ve had to bypass Washington and DL Keeanu Benton to select Schoonmaker at #49 overall in the second round. Meanwhile, Washington fell all the way to #93 overall, presenting Pittsburgh with incredible value as Washington is the best blocking TE in the draft class and is just scratching the surface of what he can do as a pass catcher.
Luke Schoonmaker would have been a great fit in Pittsburgh, likely overtaking Zach Gentry as the team’s TE2 on the depth chart. Still, it’s safe to say Pittsburgh wouldn’t change a thing, having the steal of Darnell Washington fall into their lap after trading down in the third round. Hopefully Schoonmaker can develop into a quality pro in Dallas, but as for me, I’m happy with the TE Pittsburgh got in the draft.