The Dallas Cowboys are in an enviable situation. When a quarterback is on a rookie contract, it gives the team the opportunity to spend their resources elsewhere across the roster. If the quarterback is good enough, it can set the team up for a Super Bowl run.
The Seattle Seahawks won a Super Bowl in Russell Wilson’s second year and the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in Carson Wentz’s second year. Sure, Wentz was injured for the win, but the argument holds true considering the rest of their roster was well-resourced with an abundance of talent.
With Dak Prescott entering the third year of his contract, the Cowboys still have a small window before Prescott will command top quarterback money. Prescott had a phenomenal rookie year, but an uneven second year. As the quarterback of America’s Team, Prescott received more criticism than he should have in his sophomore season, but the results weren’t up to the standards needed for a Super Bowl contending team.
There were obviously a few concerns that set up those struggles. The offensive line noticeably took a step back in 2017. Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension came at an awful time. Additionally, Dallas’ pass receivers were having trouble getting open. All of these issues contributed to Prescott’s mental play clock speeding up and some of his accuracy problems. Regardless, Prescott is the guy here for the now and for the future.
Knowing that, it came as a bit of a surprise when the Cowboys selected Western Kentucky’s Mite White in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Dallas decided to not re-sign veteran quarterback Mark Sanchez after the 2016 season. Sanchez was a instrumental tutor for Prescott in his rookie year. But the decision to not re-sign Sanchez led to the Cowboys only having Cooper Rush behind Prescott.
With the addition of White, the Cowboys get a taller quarterback who can simply gun the ball into tight windows at each level of the defense. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, White is a big quarterback. Production-wise, he took a step back from his Conference USA Newcomer of the Year award in 2016. That was largely due to abysmal offensive line play upfront and losing two-time first-team All-C-USA WR Taywan Taylor to the NFL. On tape, it is clear that the Hilltoppers altered their offense in 2017 to become more quick-hitting. They did that to help White and not led him get destroyed by the offensive line.
Whereas Prescott, and Tony Romo before him, excel at moving around the pocket to create space and buy time for their receivers to get open downfield, White is lacking in this department. But White makes up for this issue with his touch, arm talent, and accuracy. He excels down-the-field, driving off his backfoot to put the ball in areas where his receiver can only get to it. He can also drop passes into small areas near the sideline.
For White to improve and increase his chances of progressing into a starting role in the NFL, regardless of if that is with the Cowboys or elsewhere, he will need to make a few adjustments. His footwork is somewhat awkward, and though he’s able to deliver powerful passes, his motion is elongated and funky. These are all traits that will need work.
White is the essence of any quarterback that is drafted on Day 3 in the draft. He screams “project”. As a back-up quarterback, anticipation skills and the ability to not turn the football over are huge. Behind a horrible offensive line, constantly under duress, White’s turnover numbers were inflated at 15 interceptions over the past two years. But with the quality of the Cowboys’ offensive line in front of him, White would have more time to go through his progressions and deliver quality passes.
White will be in a battle with backup Cooper Rush in training camp and in preseason games. Prescott is secure as the Cowboys starter but White stands a chance at being his backup. The Cowboys will have to make a decision about keeping three QBs,if they do that would virtually assure White of making the 53-man roster. If the Cowboys decide to only carry two, Rush and White will be fighting it out. How well White performs will help the Cowboys make that decision. For now, White is in competition to be Prescott’s backup.