Cowboys fans have barely finished celebrating the Sports Illustrated re-draft of first round of the 2016 NFL draft, when along comes ESPN with their own re-draft, and the celebrations can continue, because ESPN also has Dak Prescott going No. 1 overall to the Rams.
The Rams went into the 2016 draft in desperate need of a franchise quarterback, but the ideal candidate might have been the guy taken in the fourth round. With the Cowboys, Prescott benefited from a dominant offensive line, a dynamic running back in Ezekiel Elliott and an impressive collection of pass-catchers. But he also showed great poise, accuracy, athleticism and decision-making ability. - Alden Gonzalez
Dak Prescott had the best season a rookie QB has ever had, so frankly, it's not surprising to see him at the top of this re-draft considering he set records left and right:
- Tied Ben Roethlisberger for the most regular season wins by any rookie quarterback in NFL history.
- Best completion percentage (67.8), TD-INT ratio (23-4), and passer rating (104.9) by any rookie quarterback in NFL history.
- Six rushing TDs: most by a quarterback in Cowboys franchise history.
For Prescott, the question now becomes whether he can top his 2016 performance, and which areas he can improve in. Stephen Jones recently tackled that question on 105.3 The Fan.
That's a tough, tough, tough question because he did everything so well. The biggest thing is time on the job. The guy's got an insatiable appetite to wanna be the very best and to ultimately win a championship. I know he'll get in there with coach Garrett, with Scott Linehan, with Wade Wilson, with our offensive crew and, obviously, his teammates and work to be better.
It's hard for me to sit right here and right now single out what he's gotta do better because he was pretty good - not pretty good - an All-Pro type player as a rookie. But at the end of the day, there's nothing like time on the job. As he continues to work harder at his trade, he's only going to get better. No one's gonna outwork him. He knows what this is all about and he's all in. What an amazing future to look forward to in terms of what it holds for Dak Prescott.
Moving down the ESPN draft board, we find Ezekiel Elliott going at No. 4 overall to the Cowboys, just like he did in the SI.com re-draft. Here's Todd Archer's take on Elliott:
As Eric said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Expectations were high for Elliott, who was playing behind the best line in football. He exceeded expectations, leading the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards, and he scored 16 touchdowns. As great as Dak Prescott was, Elliott's production took some of the burden off the rookie quarterback and it's a formula the Cowboys will continue to follow in 2017 and beyond. - Todd Archer
Stephen Jones explained what's next for Prescott, but what's next for Elliott?
WFAA recently sat down and talked to Zeke’s mother and asked her how he'll build on such an incredible start? Her response…
“He needs to run for 2,000 yards next season”
As happy as Cowboys fans will be to see the recognition Prescott and Elliott are getting, those two are just the headliners of what may turn out to be a great draft class, as Bob Sturm of the Dallas Morning News recently explained.
Let's start here: I have spent 19 years covering the Dallas Cowboys and I have never seen a draft like this. I am reminded to not use superlatives when discussing this compared to great drafts in Cowboys history, or even NFL history, but we have to be honest -- this one seems historic. Time will be required for us to know where some of these guys go in their careers and we certainly have to consider that two of the top four picks have yet to play a single snap, but the excitement level from the 2016 draft is incredibly high.
Not only that, but as you watch the Pro Bowl festivities, or even just your random NFL Films summaries of what this season brought us, it seems pretty clear that the league is infatuated with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. They not only play well, but they play with an attractiveness that suggests people are tuning in for them. They are interesting and have something extra that makes them, potentially, the next big thing in the NFL. They are at least the flavor of the month, for sure. We can only imagine how nuts Super Bowl week would have been had they gone all the way to that point as rookies.
As usual, Sturm is on point here, and casually throws in what is undoubtedly the ultimate target for Prescott and Elliott, the entire 2016 draft class, and the entire Cowboys organization: Beyond individual accolades, these players will ultimately be judged by whether they will win a Super Bowl.
The 2016 rookies have accomplished a lot, much more than anybody anticipated. But hopefully, that was just the first step.