Dallas Cowboys 7-round mock draft 2023 (Reloading the playmakers)

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Dallas Cowboys Round 5 (163): TE Payne Durham, Purdue

We have to believe Dalton Schultz’s time with the Dallas Cowboys is now over. The Stanford product has been great for the Cowboys. He began his career as a blocking specialists and eventually landed as their true TE1, even garnering a franchise tag last year.

But Schultz wants to be paid (can’t blame him) and the Dallas Cowboys have younger options behind him that can probably do 80% of his job for 10% of the cost. Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot appear to be TE1 and TE2 heading into 2023 (with all due respect to Sean McKeon) but Dallas needs another well-rounded prospect to round out the rotation.

Payne Durham could be that guy.

Durham, 6-foot-5, 255lbs, is a jack-of-all-trades/master of none, type of TE prospect. The former lacrosse player isn’t overly fast, strong, or athletic. His biggest standout trait appears to be his willingness to do anything, which is no small thing.


Durham is an eager blocker who projects best as a traditional Y-TE. He’s not fast or athletic enough to supplant Hendershot, who I believe will flex out in the slot a lot, so he’s best to be groomed inline or as an H-back/move TE.

Durham has ball skills and a feel for the game running routes, but his YAC will limited and he’s better as move-the-chains ball-catcher and/or red zone threat.  Most boards give him a third-fourth round grade because he’s one of the most well-rounded prospects in the class and a fairly safe selection. But I think his limited upside athletically will cause him to fall so I’m still calling this scenario in the simulator “realistic. (Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking because I like this guy).”

Other TE candidates at this point in the draft could be Will Mallory (Miami) or Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan) .