ESPN has put out a confidence ranking for each NFL team’s quarterback situation. This is a ranking based on a few different factors, not just a ranking of the best quarterbacks in the league. Here is their brief description:
This is not merely a ranking of starting quarterbacks. This is a ranking of teams based on how confident those teams are in their quarterback situation as a whole. That means it includes the reliability of the backup situation, the injury history (recent and otherwise) of the starter, the long-term plan at the position ... lots of stuff other than just which starting QB is better.
When I first saw the idea for the rankings, I thought the Cowboys would be ranked in the middle, or lower, on the list. Not because of Dak Prescott, but because of the fact that the primary backups for Prescott are second-year UDFA Cooper Rush, who has barely played a snap, and fifth-round draft pick Mike White, a very untested rookie. That certainly doesn’t suggest confidence.
But to my surprise, the Cowboys squeak into the Top 10.
10. Dallas Cowboys
There may be some external trepidation about Dak Prescott after a 2017 in which he understandably fell short of the high expectations his dazzling rookie season set. But I don’t detect much of that in Dallas, where the Cowboys believe Prescott is the guy for them. They’re going to be a run-heavy team, and the release of Dez Bryant and the retirement of Jason Witten took 220 targets away from the passing game. But if Tyron Smith is healthy and Ezekiel Elliott plays all 16 games, the Cowboys believe they have a team built to help Prescott thrive in Year 3. Cooper Rush and Mike White don’t inspire a ton of confidence in the backup situation.
Almost all of this ranking rides squarely on the shoulders of Dak Prescott. Many of the teams ranked ahead of Dallas are boosted by quality backup QBs who have been starters in the league at one time or another. Dallas certainly doesn’t have that.
What they do have, though, is a young, talented quarterback who they should have under contract for a long time, and so far has been effective, resilient and healthy. As my colleague Cole Patterson described earlier today, Prescott has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback and the Cowboys are all-in on his future.
ESPN notes in their write up above that outside the organization there are people questioning Dak Prescott’s long-term viability, but within the organization they fully believe in Dak Prescott.
In the rankings, Philadelphia comes in first, which is hard to argue with after last season’s success. New York ranks 13th and Washington comes in one later at 14th.