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Maybe we’ll look back in a couple of years — heck, maybe even a couple weeks — and realize Dak Prescott is just Landry Jones or Ryan Nassib, only with a star on his helmet.
Mid-round picks at quarterback are generally wastes. Teams draft flawed quarterbacks in the middle rounds and usually give up on them right away (hello, Bryce Petty). The success rate for quarterbacks selected in the fourth round and beyond is startlingly bad, and those are valuable picks teams are throwing away. But teams keep trying because if you hit one, it’s the NFL’s lottery. We live in a world in which Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford are worth $18 million a year to their respective teams. It’s not easy to find a good quarterback if you don’t have one.
That’s what makes Prescott’s first two preseason games so exciting for the Cowboys.
The fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State — and he was a compensatory pick at the end of the fourth — looked great in Dallas’ preseason opener against the Los Angeles Rams, which opened some eyes. Then he looked good again on Friday night against the Miami Dolphins.
For the second straight week, Prescott looked nothing like a rookie. He has a good arm and knows where to go with the ball. He has a great command of the offense and the physical skills to execute it. He had a nice deep touchdown pass to Dez Bryant, the second time in two weeks he has hit Bryant for a score. Prescott can run too, and he took off on a 20-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Dallas had 300 yards and 27 points in the first half against the Dolphins, and while starter Tony Romo looked good in his two series, most of the damage was done when Prescott was in the game.
Then to start the second half, Prescott delivered a wonderful deep ball for a 58-yard gain to Brice Butler. On the next play he rifled a back-shoulder throw to Butler for a 1-yard touchdown. He scored another touchdown on a 1-yard fourth-down quarterback sneak.
Prescott completed 12-of-15 passes for 199 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and ran for two touchdowns, in roughly two quarters of work before he was pulled in the late third quarter.
The Cowboys have gone from having a scary backup quarterback situation to presumably feeling very good about what they’ve seen from Prescott.
Prescott was a fine dual-threat college quarterback, but nobody thought he was a can’t-miss star heading into the draft (if any teams did, he wouldn’t have been available at the 135th pick … though some experts were high on him before the draft). Based only on what we’ve seen in two preseason games, Prescott looks like more than just a functional rookie backup for Tony Romo. He looks like the Cowboys’ next starting quarterback for years to come.
It could be a mirage. Most of what we see in the preseason is. Teams keep it simple on both sides of the ball in the preseason. Defensive coordinators don’t yet have a book on Prescott, nor would they care about that in the preseason anyway. What we’ve seen from Prescott in the last seven days is only a fuzzy replication of what will happen when he gets his shot in the regular season. But the signs are great so far.
Prescott wasn’t perfect against the Dolphins (he was pretty much perfect against the Rams). Prescott had a bad throw on an interception nullified due to a roughing the passer penalty. Another pass over the middle was almost intercepted, but dropped. But he also had a very nice throw on a touchdown to Butler taken off the board due to offensive pass interference, so it evens out a bit. And he was credited with a 158.3 passer rating, which is the best rating possible.
The notion that Dak Prescott set the NFL world on fire, even for a few weeks in his rookie preseason, might be hilarious down the road if he turns into another mid-round quarterback who never pans out. But, for whatever it’s worth, Prescott has been the biggest revelation to this point of the NFL preseason. The Cowboys might have struck gold at the end of the fourth round.
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