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Why the Dallas Cowboys are all-in on quarterback Dak Prescott

The Cowboys are all-in on their franchise quarterback.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys sit in extremely rare company. A group that only consists of four franchises as we prepare for the 2018 NFL football season. The Cowboys have a quarterback drafted in round three or beyond as the face of the franchise — something that 28 other teams cannot say.

Out of 150 quarterbacks drafted in the third round or later since the turn of the century, only Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, and Dak Prescott have developed into franchise-caliber quarterbacks. As noted above, that is less than 2.6%.

Sure, Dak has only been a professional for two seasons at this point in time, but his body of work is nothing short of impressive. Take a look for yourself:

Yes, Dak didn’t play his best during the back half of the 2017 season, but not many players or teams, for that matter, are going to be successful when three of the team’s best players all go down to injury or suspension (Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, and Sean Lee).

Despite that, Dak had more passing yards than Cam Newton and Marcus Mariota, a better completion percentage than Philip Rivers, Derek Carr, and Jared Goff, and more touchdowns than Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston.

These stats are pretty interesting as well:

Stephen Jones recently discussed Dak’s contract and that the organization is prepared to pay him what he deserves.

“Yeah, you know at that position, it kind of is what it is,” Jones said Wednesday at the team’s annual golf tournament. “You kind of, when the time comes, [expect to pay him]. I know Dak is going to have a good year this year. I hope it’s up there. It’s going to be as he deserves. He was a fourth-round pick. No one deserves to get paid fairly more than he does.”

Here are a few reasons why the Cowboys are all-in on Prescott.


Perhaps the two biggest factors that led the Cowboys to decide to move on from the Romo-era to the Prescott-era were durability and, maybe more importantly, the contract situation.

Dak Prescott is one of the lowest-paid players in the NFL at the quarterback position. The 135th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft outplayed his draft selection by a huge margin during his first professional season en route to taking home consensus NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. With a new young star leading the franchise, the Cowboys opted to take advantage of Prescott’s $630,000 base salary — which is less expensive than quarterbacks such as Colt McCoy, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Trevor Siemian, and Matt Cassell, to name just a few.

Although he can potentially cash-in next offseason on an extension, Dak’s current contract gives the Cowboys a ton of flexibility to build a roster around him before his rookie deal ends. Dallas has already made some moves that they believe will help Dak reach his fullest potential — it began when they signed wide receiver Allen Hurns from the Jaguars and swing-tackle Cameron Fleming from the Patriots and it continued when the Cowboys parted ways with former Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant, a move signifying that things are truly different in Dallas.

Dallas wasn’t done shifting its roster around — they don’t want to waste the Dak-era in similar fashion to Tony Romo’s career. Jason Witten retired during the draft, but the Cowboys made moves on both sides of the ball to hopefully counter the loss of the future Hall-of-Famer.

Leighton Vander Esch, an athletic linebacker with the upside needed to make an impact in the middle, was the first pick; Connor Williams — an offensive lineman that many had slotted in the first — was the 50th selection; Michael Gallup, one of three finalists for college football’s Bilentikoff Award, was a great value pick in the third. Then, of course, Dallas added an edge rusher and tight end in the fourth. Cedrick Wilson, a precise route-runner from Boise State, was grabbed in the sixth.

The Cowboys also traded away Ryan Switzer to the Raiders and traded for Tavon Austin. Austin, a speedy running back/wide receiver/return man has the ability to give this offense another dimension. Especially lined up in a backfield featuring Dak and Ezekiel Elliott or brusing back Bo Scarbrough.

The Cowboys are doing their best to build their team around their star quarterback before he is due for a big pay day.

The “It” Factor

One of the more overplayed cliches in sports is the “it” factor; however, anybody that has been around Dak Prescott says that he has that. In fact, the Cowboys saw just that in Prescott when they decided to make him the 135th pick of the ‘16 draft.

As a leader, he sets his bar extremely high,” Mullen said. “He’s always got a lot of positive energy. He’s a rah-rah guy, but he’s not afraid to get in your face and tell you how it has to be.

“One of the things I think that also sets him apart with some people is that when you step off the field, everyone wants to be around him. It’s one of those things where he’s going to hold you to an extremely high standard on the field and you’re still going to come off the field and want to be around him. If the guys are just hanging out, they want Dak to be there. If they’re having a party, they want Dak to be at the party. If there’s a dinner, it’s ‘Let’s bring Dak.’

“He’s a guy that everybody wants to be around all the time.”

There is a story on how during one of Dak’s recruiting visits to Mississippi State during the summer prior to the QB’s senior year of high school in which the then-three-star recruit gathered all of the prospects in the weight room — most of which he did not know — and led a workout. He led, and they followed. Matt Balis, Mississippi State’s strength coach at the time, told Dan Mullen about what impressed him.

“He comes out of the weight room and he’s like, ‘We want this kid to be our quarterback. He’s the guy. He’s the guy we want leading our organization,’” Mullen remembered. “I remember thinking, ‘That’s good but I hope he can throw it.’ The things he needed to improve on, you can coach. So as a coach you look back and say, Here’s a guy that has the ‘it.’ He’s a winner, a leader; all the stuff that’s hard to coach, he has. I can work on his footwork and his balance. All those things are skills we can coach and develop and work on. The other things you don’t.”

NFL analyst and former professional defensive back Charles Davis also sees the “it” factor in the Cowboys quarterback.

This kid has a special “it” factor to him that in scouting, in evaluation we often don’t really grasp until we see it presented to us. I think Dak Prescott, if you were to ask just about anyone of us who does player evaluation, if you ask the legitimate scouts and GMs in the league? I think very few of them had it in their notebooks but we all know about it now.

Dak’s leadership is second-to-none. Despite being one of the younger players on the roster, Dak knows how to control a room and connect with everybody in it. Todd Archer wrote how Prescott fits into any group that he is in — something that you want in the face of your franchise.

Whatever room Dak Prescott walks into, he instantly fits in. It can be with some of Dallas’ top business leaders or some of the greatest players to ever play for the Dallas Cowboys. He can get the pulse of the room and handle the spotlight, the way he does on game day, or sit back in the shadows and listen.

The most comfortable place for him, though, is the Cowboys’ locker room. His voice carries weight but his actions carry more notice.

The contract is nice and the play on the field is even better, but in order to be the quarterback and the face of the franchise — especially a franchise like the Dallas Cowboys — you must have the ability to lead a group of men. Dak Prescott has that quality, which is a huge reason why this organization is sold on him.

He is a Pro Bowl quarterback, after all

As mentioned earlier in this piece, Dak Prescott’s two-year body of work stacks up with just about anybody in the NFL. A sour end to last season and watching Philly win the Lombardi has made some of us forget just how good the former Mississippi State superstar is.

Through his first 31 NFL games, Dak Prescott has accounted for 45 passing touchdowns (only 17 interceptions), 6,991 yards through the air, 65.2% completion percentage, 639 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, and a 95.5 QB Rating. That’s pretty impressive, to say the least.

Those stats stack up extremely well to other quarterbacks through their first two seasons (A = Brett Favre, B = Dak, C = Drew Brees, D = Tom Brady):

The stats are similar to Carson Wentz, too:

Furthermore, Prescott is one of only two quarterbacks in the NFL to have a passer rating > 100 in 50% or more games started. The other? Oh, you know, just some typical guy named Aaron Rodgers.

But, for whatever reason, there are many that appear to be down on number 4. The young stud put together the best rookie season by a signal caller in league history, and he was well on his way to putting another impressive campaign before two All-Pros went down. He was even putting up MVP-caliber numbers at one point last season. How soon that we forget.

Dak Prescott is one of the NFL’s youngest and brightest stars. Despite a rocky end to his sophomore campaign, the Dallas Cowboys are all-in on their star quarterback due to his current contract, but more importantly, due to his leadership, “it” factor, and his widely impressive body of work.

The face of the Dallas Cowboys wants to be the greatest quarterback in the storied history of America’s Team.

“I want to be the best quarterback that the Cowboys ever had. So when I go in each and every day, it’s just about being the best player I can be. All that stuff comes when you play the game well.”

Dak Prescott is here to stay.

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