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Cowboys OTA’s: The locker room leadership void will be filled by QB Dak Prescott

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There is no debate on who the leader in the locker room is going to be... it’s Dak Prescott.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-OTA Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Any time an NFL locker room loses it’s vocal leader, that void has to be filled by someone willing to step up and into a role that isn’t suited for everyone. The Cowboys lost two very vocal leaders when 15-year veteran Jason Witten retired and eight-year All-Pro Dez Bryant was released. The question of who the Cowboys can count on to step up has been interesting offseason fodder as of late but early returns say it’s Dak Prescott.

When a fifth-year receiver in a new uniform like Allen Hurns makes that comment, it’s pretty genuine because he doesn’t have anything Cowboys-related to compare it to. Dak Prescott has been on the Cowboys’ leadership council since 2017 began as was made evident in Amazon Prime’s “All or Nothing” series. Leadership is something Dak has always had in spades, it’s was an underlying key to his seemingly overnight success as a rookie. Where some folks don’t have the personality, or prefer different methods, Prescott naturally thrives in that role, dating back to his collegiate days. Here’s an excerpt from an interview Dan Mullen, his former coach did two years ago:

“He’s brought so much to this program with his leadership, with his attitude, with his work ethic and how he shows up every day to give you everything that he has,” Mullen said. “It’s going to be missed.”

“You get used to having a guy around,” Mullen said. “Every day he has such a great attitude in everything that he does. There’s going to be a void from where he was.”

One of my personal favorite moments from last season occurred in the second Giants game where Dak and Dez were struggling. Watching Prescott’s ability to reach Bryant and get him to pay attention instead of worrying about distractions was incredible for a second-year player:

There are little things about being the quarterback for America’s Team that Prescott is well beyond his years in understanding. As little as they are, they make a difference. For the smallest of examples, at Ryan Switzer’s wedding, there was a clip of the Cowboys singing their anthem “We Dem Boyz” by Wiz Khalifa. As one player lifts his middle finger in the shot of the video, Dak thinks to pull it down. It’s such a small matter but for Dak to be that perceptive was impressive for a 24-year old guy trying to have fun.

When you watch a Cowboys practice, that’s something that jumps out to you immediately about Prescott on the field. He’s a good leader because he’s an even better learner and has a big understanding of the role he’s taken on. He’s earned the ear of Scott Linehan and Jason Garrett, he’s also earned a pretty big stick. That trust between he and Garrett has been building since the infamous pre-Draft meeting where Garrett grilled Dak on a DUI he accrued 46 days before the draft:

”Are you kidding me?” Garrett said. “You are the face of the program down there. You are the guy everybody looks up to.”

Still not good enough for Garrett.

”You’re getting ready for the draft and you decide to do this?” Prescott acknowledged his timing was bad and took the blame. Garrett kept pressing, and now it was getting uncomfortable.

”What the heck were you thinking? What would we be getting here?”

“I don’t know what else you want me to say,” he told Garrett. “This is what happened. I’m completely accountable for it. It’s not going to happen again.”

That was enough.

”He was so mature and matter-of-fact,” Garrett said. “He handled it so well. It was a very important part of our evaluation of him.”

The Cowboys, who were impressed with Prescott do what they often do and took him to a steakhouse where Prescott started interviewing the coaches.

“He was asking us things, trying to find out what we were about,” Scott Linehan said. “He did it in a very respectful way. It seemed like we were talking to this mature, veteran guy. A friend of mine probably said it right: He’s an old soul. But then he’s a young, vibrant guy.

Sometimes it’s hard to judge the character, the football IQ, the nervous system,” Jones said. “Until you see it firsthand and touch it, it’s hard to understand how rare he is in terms of people skills and leadership qualities.”

Leadership in the NFL comes in a variety of ways and from multiple individuals. Over the years, Tony Romo and Tyron Smith have been the “lead by example” type. They don’t typically speak up unless it’s absolutely needed. Guys like Witten and Bryant were much more outspoken when demonstrating their leadership qualities. It’s good to have a little bit of both on any given roster and the Cowboys certainly need a few vocal ones.

Prescott checks a lot of boxes for the Cowboys and it helps that he plays the most important position in football. Every move that has been made this offseason has been with Dak in mind though every quote will say it’s about being “Cowboys-friendly”. This is now Prescott’s offense and it will go as far as he takes it. His voice is being heard throughout the entire practice field as even defensive players take notice:

Prescott has seemingly lived at the Star since the exit meetings concluded. He along with some of the young receivers like Lance Lenoir and Noah Brown have been putting in the work every day. Since Dak walked into the Cowboys he’s been front center for a lot of wholesale change and has been a cause of most of it. Dak Prescott is tested and prepared for this role as the Cowboys leader because it just comes so naturally in his makeup.