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When Should Dallas Draft A Quarterback? How About Fourth (Round)?

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The Cowboys need to draft a quarterback, but it doesn’t have to be right away.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

If the Dallas Cowboys do not look to draft Tony Romo's successor, there are going to be a lot of angry fans out there. I can count a few people that will flail their arms recklessly about the room and storm out in a huff if the draft ends without a new shiny quarterback to play with. Fans want hope. They want to hold on to the idea that if Tony Romo is not around, Cowboys football would be able to continue. So that hope will come in the form of a young passer following Tony around on the sideline as he develops into the future franchise quarterback of this organization. Some fans are so eager to get a new QB that they would be elated to hear a name like Carson Wentz or Jeff Goff called when the Cowboys make their first round selection. While that's certainly a possibility, the front office may have their eye on someone else for that #4 pick and the search for a young quarterback will continue.

If the Cowboys pass on a quarterback in round one, all hope is not lost. The team could look to later rounds to find a young QB to develop. Financially speaking, that would certainly get more bang for their buck. A quarterback at pick four will cost the Cowboys roughly $20 million over four years. That's an expensive insurance policy to have ride the pine for a few seasons. Now, if the Cowboys were patient and drafted a quarterback in the fourth round, the cost would be about $800,000 a year. Of course, a lot of times you get what you pay for so is there any quarterbacks going later that would be worth taking a chance on?

Here are a couple players that could be good development projects for the Cowboys:

Christian Hackenberg, Penn State, 6'4" 236 lbs

The Nittany Lions junior was once thought to be a future star in the NFL. He was highly coveted coming out of high school and tore it up his freshman year at Penn State. Of course, the scenery was real nice for him that year. He had a star receiver, Allen Robinson, to catch the ball and was coached by Bill O'Brian. He set a school record as he threw for 2,955 yards that season.

But then O'Brian left to become the head coach of the Houston Texans and Robinson was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hackenberg and the Penn State offense would regress. There were times that he struggled with his accuracy and would panic in the pocket. Penn State's offensive line was terrible so Hackenberg was a sitting duck.

While the flashy stats would fizzle, the skills are still there. Hackenberg has great size and arm strength. He can throw the ball deep and puts a lot of oomph on his passes. Despite the frenzy in the pocket, he has really good footwork and can use his legs to get out of trouble. And he's got the size to handle the abuse of the NFL.

Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, 6'2" 226 lbs

Despite his parents not giving him a complete first name, the Bulldogs quarterback won just about every award handed out at Mississippi State. He is one of those great character guys that everyone loves to love. While he's a hero in Mississippi, he's starting to turn heads elsewhere as he was a Heisman candidate in 2014. Last season, he threw for 3,793 yards and 29 touchdowns while completing 66% of his passes. He also ran for 588 yards and 10 touchdowns. Statistically, he was the college version of Cam Newton.

While he is recognized for his mobility, he's developing into a stronger passer. There is still a lot of room to improve, but he possesses some good traits that can help him. Despite his mobility, he's very patient in the pocket. He sees the field very well. Prescott can dissect the defense and make proper reads. He has good composure in the pocket. He doesn't get rattled and doesn't let miscues break his focus, and he's got the arm strength to fire bullets.

And of course, there's his wheels as he can be dangerous when he takes off running.

Both these quarterbacks are projected to go somewhere in rounds 3-4. With Dallas picking at 98 in the fourth round, it's early enough that they might be able to snag one of these quarterbacks. Both these players offer up some nice upside, but will need some work. With Romo still hanging around, there should be plenty of time to coach these kids up.

At this moment, my ideal draft scenario looks like this:

  • Round 1 - CB, Jalen Ramsey
  • Round 2 - DT, Sheldon Rankins
  • Round 3 - RB, Kenneth Dixon
  • Round 4 - QB, Dak Prescott

Acquiring a young rookie quarterback is something the Cowboys need to do, but it doesn't have to happen with the fourth overall pick in the draft.

What do you think? Can the Cowboys afford to be patient and wait for one of these players, or should they approach the position with a greater sense of urgency?