The Dallas Cowboys broke another draft trend this year in taking quarterback Dak Prescott out of Mississippi State. Although they wanted to trade up for Paxton Lynch in the first, and then were looking at Connor Cook, both of those options wound up elsewhere. Prescott may have been their third choice, but he was a player the team had spent a lot of time evaluating, having seen him across the line in the Senior Bowl and then having more than one visit with him prior to the draft. Still, Prescott is not a player that is ready to step anytime this season in the way Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are hoped to be by their new teams.
But the more you find out about the rookie, the more you are likely to really be hoping he develops into a player that will be with the Cowboys for a long time. The coverage of him since he was drafted has been absolutely glowing. Even if his ceiling is just as a backup, he is displaying all the characteristics of someone who will be an asset on the field and in the locker room.
In an interview during Morris Claiborne’s football camp in Shreveport, he talked about how the Cowboys were always his favorite team, making it a dream come true for him to join them. And he also talks about the one regret he has. His mother passed away before she could see her son realize his dream, and he is not afraid to admit he is a true "momma’s boy". He was so well-liked at Mississippi State, fans posted a tribute video to him on Youtube just to thank him for what he has done for the school. Claiborne was very impressed by how Prescott dealt with the kids at his camp, and how they responded to him.
Said Claiborne: "It was just like I said: the way the kids responded to him was great. I really wasn't expecting them to respond to him the way they responded to him. But they took him in. He took them in. He spoke to them at the end of the camp and gave them some great wisdom and some great knowledge. I felt like the speech he said afterwards was unbelievable."
Here’s an excerpt of that speech, as reported by Mark Lane.
"You control what you do," Prescott explained to the kids. "You control your outcome. As Morris said: in the morning, you control your alarm clock going off or just hitting snooze and sleep in and not run that mile or two miles. You control that. Your momma might help you, might tell you what to do, but you control what you do at the end of the day. You all know what age group this is: 15, 16, 17. Y'all got to start making decisions. You're in the prime of making decisions that are really going to dictate where your life goes."
Prescott seems like an almost perfect fit for Jason Garrett’s roster. He has the love of the game and the work ethic that define the frequently mentioned "right kind of guy", and outside of a single DUI incident in college, he has no indication of any off-field issues that could create future problems.
But all that doesn’t win football games. It comes down to performance, and Prescott has a lot of learning and development ahead of him. Fortunately, he is in a situation where he will get a chance to do just that, with Tony Romo still maintaining a firm grasp on the starting job and Kellen Moore as the apparent QB2 for this season (however much many of us wish Prescott or Jameill Showers might force a change there). His progress already has been pleasing to the staff. One thing that has been mentioned is how well he has done operating from under center, something he did not do in college. He has the arm strength to make NFL passes and displays superior running ability. Now he has to learn to make the reads and progressions, as well as adapt that running ability to being more elusive than a constant threat to take off down the field. Of course, the coaching staff might want to put a few plays in to let him utilize his legs to pick up yards one day, but for now that is not the main objective for him.
Being a likable, stand-up person is not going to make an NFL success out of Prescott. At best, it will buy him a little bit of patience as he learns the professional game. But you cannot be blamed if you find yourself really rooting for him to do well in camp and the preseason games. It is of course far too early to have any idea if he can seriously contend to become Romo’s eventual successor.
Still, it would be a great chapter in the life of a football player that truly seems to deserve it. There is no reason to hesitate to become a Dak Backer.