Back in June, our colleague Dawn wrote a column asking the staff who their favorite player to wear the star was and my response was as follows:
Tony Romo - I'm 27 years old, I remember the glory days but not as fondly as I wish I could. I have never rooted or supported a player as much as I have Tony Romo. His story, his ambitions, and his character make him my favorite of all time. I remember the days before he finally got his chance and I would never want to revisit those times. Through Quincy Carter, Drew Henson, Vinny Testaverde, and Drew Bledsoe; it was a revolving door that made it really hard to be a fan sometimes. Tony Romo embodies the underdog and amazing will power to achieve great things. Call me crazy but there is nothing in the world that would make me happier than for him to grab a Lombardi, I would even mortgage the Cowboys' future for guys like him and Jason Witten to get one ring.
I still stand by my sentiments and affinity for the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, but Tom Ryle's piece on Friday got me thinking. Though this will be the topic of many discussions this offseason, he's right. The Dallas Cowboys shouldn't hesitate to take a chance on landing a quarterback of the future. If Romo stays healthy, when will they ever have the chance to do so again? The idea of just biding your time until you have to take a quarterback, then mortgaging your draft future to do so just doesn't seem smart or a likely option under Stephen Jones. It's the kinds of things that happen in Washington or Cleveland, not Dallas. Still, this upcoming draft could give the Cowboys the opportunity to groom a highly-talented quarterback of the future without feeling the pressure to play him right away. That's something to really wrap our heads around.
As much as the Cowboys have needs elsewhere, it is likely that a 4-12 record isn't going to happen in the rest of Tony Romo's tenure. This is a chance to take a page out of the Green Bay Packers' book while still maintaining a competitive and contending team. With that said, this early into the process, there are three names that continue to surface when discussing this quarterback class. Let's take a look at them.
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
At 6' 6", 230 pounds, there is a lot to like about Lynch's frame and he certainly carries the look of an NFL quarterback. Admittedly, Lynch is not yet a polished passer and still has some work to accomplish with mechanics and footwork. However, all the quarterbacks that are coming out of college these days have some work ahead of them. What talent scouts like about Lynch is his pocket poise, mobility, and his pin-point accuracy. This season, Lynch completed 67% of his passes with 28 touchdowns to only three interceptions. Of course, there are tons of questions surrounding the competition that he faced and he certainly struggled in his bowl game against Auburn. Yet, if you watched him lead the upset against Ole Miss, he was impressive to say the least.
Diving more into what available information there is on Lynch, he's been garnering two very different comparisons. CBS folks have drawn comparisons to Blake Bortles while Rick Gosselin has likened him to Ben Roethlisberger. Either of those is high praise for a kid that currently ranks sixth on Mel Kiper's big board and eighth on Todd McShay's. Again, Lynch would be a passer that would have to grow into the starting role but there is a lot to like about this prospect.
Jared Goff, California
At 6' 4", 210 pounds, Goff has the frame of an NFL quarterback but may be asked to put on some weight at the next level. Goff is widely considered the best quarterback in the nation, and his ability to improve over his time at Cal was impressive. Goff completed 60% of his passes as a true freshman and steadily got better over the next two seasons. In 2014, Goff utterly dismantled his number from the year before having completed 62% of his passes, with 35 touchdowns, almost 4,000 yards, and only seven interceptions.
Goff doesn't have near the cannon for an arm that Lynch does, but don't confuse that for weakness. CBS scouts said he's 'downright surgical' when picking apart defenses. Where Goff outranks all passers in this class is his 'touch'. Both on intermediate and deep throws, he can orchestrate an offense in a truly masterful way. This season, Goff completed 64% passing with 43 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. In his bowl game against Air Force, Goff dropped 593 yards passing with five touchdowns. Nice way to end the year isn't it? Without gushing too hard, Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said of Goff, "This is Aaron Rodgers, he's the real deal." The best part of Goff is that he is aware of his deficiencies and what he has to do to grow at the NFL-level.
Carson Wentz, North Dakota State
At 6' 5", 231 pounds, Wentz follows the mold of Lynch with an NFL-ready frame. He's a quarterback from a small school and has drawn comparisons to Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco. One of his best traits is his ability to extend plays and avoid sacks. Something he shares with the current Cowboys' signal caller. Wentz has good pocket awareness and presence while maintaining an innate ability to throw on the run. Wentz is also very accurate having thrown 16 touchdowns to only two interceptions before suffering a wrist injury that shelved him in the second-half of the season. However, it has been reported that Wentz will be starting for the Bison in the FCS Championship Saturday afternoon.
Also more noteworthy, Wentz is scheduled to play at the Senior Bowl for the North Team, who will be coached by none other than Cowboys' head coach Jason Garrett. A quarterback himself, it will be a huge coup for Garrett and Wade Wilson to get a sneak-peek at the best senior quarterback prospect in the draft. Wentz is already ahead of the other names on this list in one category; pro-style offense. Though Carson would certainly need a redshirt year as well, he's got one of the tighter releases and his football IQ is off the charts. Perhaps his biggest area for concern is his tendency to pre-determine his passes which must be rectified. However, he undoubtedly has a mixture of good arm talent, mobility, athleticism, and field vision. All four of those traits could have him flying up the boards with a good outing in these next two opportunities.
It's not lunacy to think with a bit of health that the Cowboys would be contenders in 2016 with Tony Romo at the helm. This is a true opportunity laying in front of them to finally get the heir-apparent to the Cowboy throne in two or three years. With nine picks total, there will certainly be talented players at other positions for them to fill out their roster. However, the lack of a capable quarterback after Romo's injury was the clear weakness in 2015 and it must be dealt with sooner rather than later. The Cowboys also need to always keep an eye on their future, the NFL landscape can change in an instant.
After the lengthy read, who is your guy? Is it Lynch, Goff or Wentz? Perhaps it's somebody completely different. Let us know.