With great power comes great responsibility, but even Spiderman would admit that picking at the number four spot is something you need to approach carefully. When the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock in the first round of the draft, fans everywhere will be on pins and needles. And just like the uncertainty of Bella from Twilight when it comes to seeking what the heart wants, fans are going to lean heavily towards "TEAM QB" or "TEAM DEFENSE" when it comes to that coveted fourth pick. It's a tough choice and I'm glad I don't have to make it.
But let's think for a moment that the Cowboys make half their fan base ecstatic by taking a top collegiate QB with the number four pick. Opinions will be plentiful as we will all start interjecting how smart/silly the decision was. Of course, it will all be speculative because what do you really know in April when the selection is made? If only we had the ability to see into the future to determine if the Cowboys had made the right choice. Well, for the sake of this write-up, let's just play around a little and examine some future outcomes of taking a quarterback with their first pick. This isn't about who is better - Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch, or recent draft-riser, Carson Wentz. The only thing considered about the rookie will be whether or not the quarterback chosen turns out to be a good player.
It may be an overly simplistic way of looking at things, but the way I see it - there are four possible scenarios:
Scenario #1 - The best of both worlds
A healthy Tony Romo immediately propels the Cowboys back into playoff contention. Now, there is always that small chance that, whether it be health or age, he regresses. What we do know is that he was the highest rated QB in 2014 and playing the best football of his career. All bets point to Romo being very effective if he can stay healthy.
When the clock finally strikes twelve on Cinderomo, the team will have themselves a nice young franchise QB properly groomed to take over the best job in America. While the hour glass is still winding down for players like Romo and Jason Witten, the Cowboys still have a young nucleus of players. A seamless transition from one great quarterback to another would make Dallas a contender for years to come; starting right now.
If the Cowboys take a chance on a QB and he's the real deal, it's going to mean great things for this organization. The Cowboys will win now and the Cowboys win later. It would be fantastic.
Scenario #2 - The insurance policy
In 2015, fans got an eyeful of just how horrible things can be without a solid backup quarterback on the roster. The offense went in the toilet and the Cowboys wasted a season where they finally got some quality play from their defense. Without a quarterback who could step in and contribute, the Cowboys offense was second to last in points scored (17.2 per game) and the inability to score helped paved the way to a 4-12 record. The front office needs to do everything in their power to try to make sure that doesn't happen again.
While the ideal situation for a rookie QB is to develop him behind a great veteran, the skillset of a top college quarterback could provide his team serviceable production should he be thrown into action. Undoubtedly, there would be some growing pains, but you can bet that he'll be able to make plays for you as well. Not only would the team get solid play from the backup position, but another season of watching Romo go down would further validate the need to go after his successor. And to already have him on the roster would be a comforting feeling.
Scenario #3 - Peace of mind
A healthy Romo will prolong the ability to see what the team really has in their rookie quarterback. For now, the Cowboys will go about their business with a good offense and should be able to stay competitive as long as Tony stays upright.
This scenario comes with a price. With the foresight of knowing the team is going to be facing QB problems in the post-Romo era, this means the Cowboys window of opportunity is closing. By drafting a quarterback at four, they'll lose out on a talented college player that could immediately impact the team. Instead of sitting on the bench with a clipboard, they'd be out of the field making plays. If the Cowboys are to do anything special in the Tony Romo era, they could sure use the services of a blue-chip rookie who can step in and be a starter.
But the heaviest price will come a few years down the road when the teams new franchise quarterback is given the reins. If they take a quarterback with the number four pick in 2016, you wouldn't expect a lot of additional resources to be invested in the QB position in the near future. This could leave the Cowboys in bad shape when that time comes.
Scenario #4 - The search for a good quarterback continues
If Romo goes down and the rookie quarterback is horrible, then 2016 is going to be another nightmare season. And there's a good chance the Cowboys get to do this all over again next season. While it has the worst short-term outcome, it could tip them off that they don't have their long-term answer. The front office would have to remain committed in strengthening the quarterback position. Even if it means puzzling some draft analyzers by reinvesting in a Kirk Cousins type-player when you already have taken a Robert Griffin III. Nothing is guaranteed and the Cowboys can't be complacent.
But how much can you tell from one season? There is a good chance the Cowboys will give the rookie plenty of time to show his true colors before they give up on him so expect a lot of agonizing Sundays before it becomes clear that he is a bust.
The Cowboys have a lot to gain if they take a quarterback that ends up being a good player in this league. Whether they hit on their pick or not is something every team must face, but the Cowboys have a couple advantages over teams that normally take a quarterback this high in the draft - they are not your typical cellar-dweller and they already have a franchise quarterback on the roster.
Of course the right play for the Cowboys come draft time is to stick to their board and take the best player. If it ends up being a quarterback, great. Reaching for a quarterback because the Cowboys want to hedge their bets is risky business, but if there is a QB they love sitting there when it's their turn to pick, there are more reasons than not to be happy about it.