ESPN’s QB Council ranks Dak Prescott in top 10 at nearly every skill they graded

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Dak Prescott still has his doubters. As starting quarterback of America’s Team- and simultaneously, of the team so many love to despise- that just comes with the territory.

But don’t count ESPN’s QB Council among the haters. The Worldwide Leader put together a group of NFL analysts and tasked each one with ranking their ten best current passers in a dozen distinct categories. Those personal lists were then combined into one definitive set of rankings for 2021.

And the experts agree with what most of Cowboys Nation already knew: the Cowboys are in especially good hands with Prescott.

Prescott landed in the top ten in 11 of the 12 graded categories. Only four others (Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson) made that many top tens. No quarterback across the league was ranked in all 12 categories.

That may not be scientific proof of Prescott’s placement among the league’s elite, but it’s quite a ringing endorsement nonetheless.

Here’s a quick look at each skill the Council graded and how Prescott placed.

Arm strength | Prescott's rank: N/A

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 10: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws a pass during the first half against the Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium on November 10, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

This is the only category where Prescott didn't place among the top ten, according to the Council. Unsurprisingly, the cannon arms of Mahomes, Josh Allen, Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford led the pack. Prescott did receive at least one vote, though, from the field of experts that included Matt Bowen, Mina Kimes, Louis Riddick, Mike Tannenbaum, Seth Walder, and representatives from Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders.

Accuracy | Prescott's rank: 8th

Aug 21, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws prior to the game against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Wilson led this group; Prescott came in 8th, between Ryan Tannehill and Allen. The Cowboys starter showed off his accuracy in pregame warmups over the weekend, completing 51 of 52 passes during his on-the-field routine before Saturday's preseason game versus Houston.

Touch | Prescott's rank: 5th

Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott passes during NFL football practice in Frisco, Texas, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Leading a receiver just the right amount, softly dropping a ball into the basket, firing a laserlike spiral through a tight window... sometimes it's all about touch. Prescott placed 5th in this skill, behind Mahomes, Brady, Wilson, and Rodgers.

Mechanics | Prescott's rank: 7th (tied)

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 17: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys warms up prior to the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 17, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Brady, Rodgers, and Mahomes were judged most technically sound, but "I would have bumped Prescott into the top five here," Bowen notes. "You can see the strong base, footwork and shoulder/hip rotation on the release to extend through his target. From a pure mechanics standpoint, you could make an argument that Prescott could jump in front of Mahomes and even Rodgers, who both lean more on their natural throwing ability." Prescott ended up tied with Allen.

Field vision | Prescott's rank: 6th

Sep 20, 2020; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws under pressure from Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Cominsky (50) in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Awareness, recognition, the ability to diagnose and read what's happening, getting through the proper progressions... it's all in this category. Brady and Rodgers were the gold standard; Prescott's eyes gave him the 6th spot, just behind Wilson and Watson. ESPN points out that the Council made their lists early in the summer, before serious off-the-field accusations against Watson came to light.

Decision-making with the football | Prescott's rank: 7th

Tennessee Titans nose tackle Austin Johnson (94) sacks Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) during the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Once again, Rodgers, Brady, and Wilson topped the group. Prescott placed 7th, just behind Tannehill and one slot ahead of Derek Carr, for avoiding turnovers, protecting the ball, and minimizing risk.

Compete level | Prescott's rank: 8th

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after connecting with Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys to score a touchdown in the third quarter of the game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

It's difficult to name many quarterbacks today who have more desire to win than the 28-year-old Prescott. The QB Council, however, came up with seven of them. Brady, Mahomes, and Rodgers took the first three spots, while the Cowboys' field general finished between Stafford and Tannehill.

Toughness | Prescott's rank: 8th

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) lifts his fist to cheers from fans as he is carted off the field after suffering a lower right leg injury running the ball in the second half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Allen, Wilson, and Lamar Jackson led this category, but Prescott's extreme toughness cannot be discounted. He did, after all, try to reset his own fractured ankle right there on the field last October by slamming it against the turf. "Every QB on this list is worthy of being at the top of this category, as they will all stand in the pocket and keep firing in the face of pressure, big hits or sacks," Riddick points out. Prescott ended up placing between Rodgers and Brady.

Pocket presence | Prescott's rank: 8th

Nov 24, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes the ball under pressure from New England Patriots defensive tackle Danny Shelton (71) in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Patriots defeated the Cowboys 13-9. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Prescott ranked 8th here, one spot behind Jackson and just in front of Kyler Murray for how he operates in the pocket. It's a skill perhaps taken for granted to casual viewers of the game, but Cowboys fans recall all too vividly how panicky a few of the team's less-experienced backups looked once things got hot behind the line of scrimmage last season. Rodgers, Brady and Mahomes were the Council's top vote-getters in this category.

Scrambling | Prescott's rank: 8th

Oct 6, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) scrambles in the fourth quarter against Green Bay Packers linebacker Preston Smith (91) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Jackson and Murray were- not surprisingly- the leaders where ad-libbing is concerned, but Allen's third-place ranking (over Mahomes) might raise a few eyebrows. Prescott does a fine job when it's time to tuck and run; he finished between Rodgers and Tannehill.

Designed-run ability | Prescott's rank: 9th

Oct 14, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) rushes for a first quarter touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Drawn-up quarterback runs aren't a huge part of the Cowboys' offense the way they are for other teams. Jackson, Murray, and Allen led the way there, with Cam Newton, Taysom Hill, and Jalen Hurts following behind. Daniel Jones also gets a look; he finished just ahead of Prescott. Of the five quarterbacks who made 11 of the 12 lists; only Prescott and Watson were ranked here; Mahomes, Rodgers, and Wilson were not.

Second-reaction ability | Prescott's rank: 7th

Nov 17, 2019; Detroit, MI, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) passes the ball as Detroit Lions defensive end Mike Daniels (96) attempts to tackle him during the fourth quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Off-schedule throws made on the run and at weird angles are the skill here. Mahomes has said he's modeled many of his unorthodox throws from study of Prescott; he topped this list, with veterans Rodgers and Wilson right behind him. Prescott fell between Jackson and Justin Herbert.

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