Michigan tight end Luke Schoonmaker is one of the most impressive pro-ready tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft. Schoonmaker is an outstanding dual-threat weapon that can block and catch. Schoonmaker stole the show at the NFL Scouting Combine by leaping a 95th percentile 127-inch broad jump.
Schoonmaker recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his standout performance in Indianapolis, three-down value, his favorite routes to run, and more. Schoonmaker also touched on which teams have shown interest in his services throughout the pre-draft process.
JM: You were incredible at the NFL Scouting Combine. You ran a 4.63. Your lower-body explosion was on display via a 127-inch broad jump. Do you think you surprised some scouts with your performance?
Luke Schoonmaker: I think I surprised a few of them at least. I’m sure there were some scouts that were expecting a lot out of me. Either way, my goal was to reach the expectations I set for myself. I wanted to be one of the top-performing tight ends in the class.
I was working really hard in preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine. I went out there and let it all loose. I was aiming to give it my best shot throughout that entire week. I put up some great numbers. I was very happy with the outcome. I’m sure it shocked a lot of people.
JM: You have terrific size for the position. You measured in at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds. How do you use those physical traits to your advantage?
Luke Schoonmaker: I think Michigan helped me develop those traits. I came into a pretty loaded position room. I learned so much from all of the guys ahead of me. All of them went on to play at the next level. I think that experience gave me a good level of understanding of what was expected of me. It gave me a lot of different tools and skills.
I tried to incorporate everything I learned into my game. The strength and conditioning team, everybody in the weight room played a role in my physical development. They got me to peak performance level. They helped me play consistently and hard on Saturdays. I played at a high level. I have to give credit to my coaching staff as well. They’re the ones that allowed me to put everything together.
JM: Refresh my memory. Who are some of the vets that helped show you the ropes?
Luke Schoonmaker: Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon, and Nick Eubanks immediately come to mind. They were a three-headed monster. It was great. I’ve stayed in touch with all three of those guys. They showed me the ropes. I really appreciate their relationships and everything I’ve learned from them.
JM: They’ve all had success. When I turn the tape on, I see a sound route-runner that is crisp through his breaks. Do you have a favorite route to run?
Luke Schoonmaker: I love a lot of those crossing routes. Being fast to get across the field allows me to create available throwing lanes for my quarterback. It helps make me a playmaker. I really enjoy running those routes. I was able to do a ton of that this year at Michigan. Those are some fun routes to run in my opinion.
JM: You also have underrated elusiveness in the open field when it comes to creating yards after the catch. How did you develop that aspect of your game?
Luke Schoonmaker: That’s my biggest emphasis as I prepare for the next level. I want to be a playmaker with the ball in my hands. When I catch the ball, I don’t expect to get tackled by one defender. I’m trying to get North and South. I’m trying to get into the end zone.
I’ll do whatever it takes to create those yards after the catch. It takes constant work. I love using that stiff arm. I have the strength necessary to run through would-be tacklers. I have great contact balance as well. I can regroup and get those yards after catch after initial contact.
It’s always been a big emphasis of mine. It will continue being a big emphasis. It’s also a mindset thing. I have the will to not go down. It’s always been an emphasis thing for me.
JM: You’ve talked about how playing at Michigan helped you. You played in a pro-style offense near the line of scrimmage. Michigan asked you to play in-line and block. What do you enjoy about blocking in the run game, and do you consider that a strength of yours?
Luke Schoonmaker: It’s funny. I arrived at Michigan after playing quarterback in high school. That was [blocking] the biggest struggle for me at first. It was something I knew I had to put a lot of time into as I made the position switch, especially at a level that met Michigan’s expectations.
I really had to place emphasis on blocking in the run game. It’s certainly a lot different than playing quarterback. It requires a different level of toughness. There’s so much that goes into it.
I took a lot of pride in getting better as a blocker. I continued to build. Now, wherever you want to play me, I can do the job that’s being asked of me to the best of my ability. Playing hard and tough with consistency at that high of a level in the run game is something I take a lot of pride in.
I look forward to doing it now.
JM: You did it at such a high level. Have you completed any Top 30 visits, private workouts, or virtual Zoom meetings?
Luke Schoonmaker: I had six Top 30 visits with the Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers.
JM: There’s a lot of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. This NFL draft process is a long one and it opens all prospects up to criticism. People may wonder why your passing-game production didn’t always match the physical traits. That may be the question on Luke Schoonmaker. How do you debunk that narrative?
Luke Schoonmaker: I think about the style of offense we played. We rushed for 238.9 yards per game in 2022. We were arguably the best rushing offense in the entire nation. We had a dominant run game.
We balanced it with a great passing game, but our area of focus was to run the football at a high level. It was pivotal to our success, especially in certain games this season. We relied on running the football.
We were very successful with that. At the end of the day, that’s all I want, to win football games and to have success as a team. Our entire team wanted to win. Whatever that was going to take, whatever adjustments we had to make, that’s what we did. Everybody bought into that. That’s what brought us to where we went.
JM: What you did at the line of scrimmage was a huge part of that. We’ve appreciated your time today. I feel like this conversation has highlighted why Luke Schoonmaker is one of the best tight ends in the 2023 NFL Draft. In closing, what kind of impact is Luke Schoonmaker going to make at the next level?
Luke Schoonmaker: I’m going to come in and bring so much energy and positivity to the table. I’m going to continue being a hard worker. I’m somebody that wants to get better. I want to help my teammates get better.
I’m going to be reliable. I’m going to do whatever’s asked of me. I’m going to work my butt off. I’m going to help the team win a lot of games.
- Sep 24, 2023
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