Dak Prescott heads into 2018 with a little something to prove. After a rookie season in 2016 that set records and was an unqualified success, 2017 was a little disappointing. He started the year looking much like he did as a rookie, but when things started to go wrong (the Ezekiel Elliott suspension, the Tyron Smith injury), Prescott and the offense took a nose-dive. They were epic bad for a stretch in 2017.
Prescott needs to get back on track in 2018 and prove he is the franchise quarterback the team and many fans think he is, or things could get dicey in Dallas. There’s no reason to believe that Prescott won’t be the man this year, but let’s get an outside opinion.
Pro Football Focus has ranked all starting QBs heading into 2018. They have Prescott 12th.
12. DAK PRESCOTT, DALLAS COWBOYS
2017 overall grade, rank: 72.2 (19th)
Prescott took a step back after an outstanding rookie season, in part due to his supporting cast regressing around him. In his two years in the league, he’s shown that he can take care of the ball, ranking in the top-10 at avoiding turnover-worthy plays in both seasons, however it may be time for the Cowboys to throw the ball down the field more often as Prescott has ranked in the bottom three in deep pass attempts despite ranking 15th in adjusted completion percentage on deep passes in 2016 and fifth last year.
As you can see, his 2017 grade of 19th is representative of the struggles he and the offense had last year, especially in the second half of the season. But they still project him as 12th for the upcoming season, based on what they’ve seen previously (2016). Interestingly they note that Prescott may benefit from throwing the deep ball more, as his yards per attempt number (6.8) was pretty low last year.
Prescott might never rank high in some stats just because the Cowboys are always going to be a running team with their offensive line and Zeke. But what he may lack in volume stats he can make up for in efficiency stats, something he did in 2016. If he can get back to a higher completion percentage, and get a little more help from his receivers, things should be fine.
The QBs ranked ahead of him are: Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo. It’s hard to argue with most of those being someone you could legitimately argue as higher-ranked than Prescott, although Andrew Luck and Jimmy Garoppolo are questionable. Luck needs to show he is healthy and can produce again, and Garoppolo is getting a huge amount of love for a very small sample size.
As for the other two NFC East teams? Alex Smith is ranked 15th, but Eli Manning is ranked 28th! Ouch.