As the 2019 season approaches, so does the final year of quarterback Dak Prescott’s rookie contract. This puts a lot of pressure on the Cowboys to get something done sooner rather than later. The Philadelphia Eagles recently signed Prescott’s draft-classmate Carson Wentz to a massive contract extension, locking him up through the 2024 season paying him an average of $32 million per year.
The question that has been posed from many, both inside and outside of the Cowboys fan base, is an obvious one: “Is Dak Prescott worth over 30 million per year?” To answer that question, we must look at the film.
Looking at the pocket
Let’s start by taking a look at what Prescott can do with a clean pocket. Against the Buccaneers in Week 16 Prescott threw an absolute dime to Michael Gallup to convert a third and 12.
Tampa Bay was in a Cover 2 look. Cover 2 has two “soft spots” that offenses look to target in the passing game. The first is the deep middle, between the two safeties. Many teams combat this by playing Tampa 2 and dropping their middle linebacker deep. The second is the side pocket throw... that throw places the ball deeper than the cornerback and near the sidelines where the safety will have trouble getting to it. Teams will combat this by dropping their corners underneath the route rather than having them just sit in the flat.
On this play the Bucs do a good job of bracketing the receiver with cornerback Brent Grimes underneath and safety Jordan Whitehead over the top, but a perfect tight-window throw by Prescott results in a 32-yard gain and a first down for the Cowboys.
The unfair stereotype that can be thrust on an athletic quarterback like Prescott is that they always are looking to run. This is simply not true. Prescott always has his eyes down field looking to make the throw. On the next play in our film review, during the two-minute drill at the end of the second half, Prescott demonstrates just that. Dallas has excellent protection, but Eagles defensive end Chris Long gets into the passing lane and gets his hand up. This forces Prescott to step up in the pocket before delivering a perfect ball to Cole Beasley on the deep out route. This type of pocket presence is something that non-athletic quarterbacks like Tom Brady are noted for but Prescott has this skill as well.
Outside the pocket analysis
Of course, Prescott gives the Cowboys something extra with his athletic ability. In Week 17 the Cowboys found themselves in a third down situation just inside the Giants 40-yard line. The exotic overloaded defensive front from the defense caused confusion for the Cowboys offensive line.
As a result, B.J. Hill and Olivier Vernon were able penetrate the backfield from the left side. Prescott rolled out to his right, but kept his eyes down field. As he approached the line of scrimmage he threw the ball across his body to tight end Blake Jarwin 20 yards down field and Jarwin was able to run it in for a touchdown. Once again, this shows Prescott keeping his eyes downfield when under pressure and looking to make big plays in the passing game.
Yes, Prescott can also run the ball. In our final play of film review, a goal line situation against the Redskins, Prescott drops back to throw but quickly feels pressure from the left side. He rolls out around it, then ducks inside another defender before seeing his path to the end zone.
At the end of the day, Dak Prescott is worth every penny. He is an excellent passer who can keep the play alive with his movement inside and outside of the pocket. The film backs all of this up.