All offseason long we have written about whether the Cowboys should pay quarterback Dak Prescott, or not. The former fourth-round selection will likely receive a big pay day prior to the Cowboys’ first regular-season game against the New York Giants, and many on both ends of the debate have argued whether or not Dallas should pay number four.
Meanwhile, Mike Sando brought his Quarterback Tiers survey from ESPN to The Athletic, in which he surveyed 55 different coaches and executives to rank the NFL quarterbacks into different tiers.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott landed in Tier-3 — sandwiched between a pair of former NFC East quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins and Nick Foles.
The first-tier consisted of eight names: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes, Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Russell Wilson. That is a pretty solid list. Rodgers is one of the best talents we have ever seen at the position, Brady has been the greatest for nearly two decades, and Mahomes put together one of the most prolific seasons ever in his first year as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
Tier-2 brings much more debate. The survey resulted in naming Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Matt Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, and Baker Mayfield in the second tier of NFL signal callers. All have their pluses, but all have their flaws as well.
There are certainly some arguments to be made that Dak Prescott belongs in that group — maybe even ahead of a guy or two. Prescott received 16 votes for the second tier, according to Sando’s data.
On Dak, one of the voters said it is accuracy that is limiting him from one of the top two tiers:
“I just think when it comes down to it, his accuracy is going to limit him because those three to four throws a game you miss, they get you in the long run,” an offensive coordinator said.
Another stated that Prescott needs talent around him in order to be successful:
“I think he is the classic 3, a high 3, where he really needs people around him,” a GM said. “When they got the receiver, he was better. When the runner is rolling, he is better. Play-action is very important for him.”
One of the people that were surveyed complimented Dak’s durability and even said Prescott has “some ‘it’ factor”:
“He is sturdy, he is tough, he doesn’t get hurt,” a GM said. “He has some ‘it’ factor to him. The 3 needs the good run game and strong defense. I think that’s Dak.”
Prescott did receive some praise in this survey. A voter that, presumably, put Dak in Tier-2 said that he could see Prescott having the kind of the season this year that has people thinking he is borderline Tier-1:
“When they got Amari Cooper, he really ascended,” said the voter, a veteran personnel evaluator. “Throw in the O-line, the running back, they add (Randall) Cobb in the slot, and I think (Tier) 2 could be the low number. I could see them winning 12 or 13 games and having people come back next year saying, ‘Oh, maybe he is closer to a 1.’”
If the Cowboys have the kind of season that this veteran personnel evaluator sees potentially happening, it will be because of Dak Prescott.
Yes, Ezekiel Elliott is a special, elite talent at the running back position. Yes, the defense has some young stars that are ascending under coach Kris Richard’s coaching. However, this team is going to go as far as its quarterback takes them.
Prescott’s game went to another level when Amari Cooper was acquired, as his confidence seemingly went to another level with a legitimate target on the outside. As BTB’s Connor Livesay points out, Dak has been very productive since entering the league.
When looking at the numbers on Dak, it’s hard to find a quarterback in the NFL that has had more success leading a team to victory than him. In his first three years in the NFL ,Prescott led Cowboys to a 32-16 record, two divisional titles, and has started every eligible game since entering the league. Since he took over as the starter the Cowboys have reached the playoffs in two of the last three years and have won one of the three playoffs games they’ve played in (not to mention they’ve fallen to Aaron Rodgers and Sean McVay who many believe are the best at their craft). In those games, Prescott has averaged a 64.1 completion percentage, 265 passing yards per game, and averaged a 95.7 passer rating. While the playoff numbers are impressive (even in the losses), the full picture shows a very, very productive quarterback.
Bobby Belt also shows statistics that Prescott has been among the best for nearly 80% of his three-season career:
As the "is Dak worth it?" arguments continue, remember that outside of what was essentially a 2nd half funk during the messy 2017 season, Dak's been pretty flawless through 51 career games.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) May 24, 2019
He's been elite for 80% of his career to this point. pic.twitter.com/dxTlaQqlQn
The Cowboys have promoted Kellen Moore to offensive coordinator, moving on from Scott Linehan, in hopes of bringing fresh wrinkles and play designs to the offense. Dallas also went and hired Jon Kitna, who spent 16 years in the NFL as a quarterback and has been around the cutting edge concepts in Texas high school football. Combine that with the move for Cooper and you see the Cowboys are all-in with Prescott.
We have seen Dak Prescott flourish when doubted. This is his latest opportunity to prove the naysayers wrong.