The Dallas Cowboys got extremely lucky back in the 2016 draft when they found their franchise quarterback late in the fourth round.
4. Quarterback Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Pick No. 135 in 2016 Draft
There aren’t many Day 3 picks who wind up as opening-day starters during their rookie seasons—and certainly not at quarterback. However, Dak Prescott has proved time and time again that he isn’t a typical Day 3 pick.
When Dallas Cowboys starter Tony Romo was injured during a 2016 preseason game, Prescott was named the team’s interim starter. But he played so well that the Cowboys stuck with him even when Romo was ready to return, and Prescott led the Cowboys to the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
He has started every game for the Cowboys since and has never had a losing season. He’s a two-time Pro Bowler, and his game is only improving. In 2019, he threw a career-high 30 touchdowns and added three on the ground. He boosted his yards per attempt to 8.2 and had a passer rating of 99.7.
Soon, he will likely be one of the league’s highest-paid players, and it’s tough to argue against that, as it appears the fourth-rounder hasn’t hit his ceiling.
The Cowboys waited to pick a quarterback in 2016. Any chance they grab one early this time around?
Lastly, making a move to draft a quarterback would go against everything the organization has put out there regarding their feelings about Prescott. They want to sign him long-term. The two sides are working to do so, even if they seem far apart at this juncture.
Drafting a quarterback in either of the first two rounds would essentially signal to Prescott and his camp that the Cowboys are thinking about moving on from him. That would be a major blow to the negotiations and could likely alienate Prescott to the point he does not even sign the franchise tag, sits out a year and leaves for good.
If any franchise should value the extremely good fortune they have had at the game’s most important position, it’s the Dallas Cowboys. Before lucking into Dak Prescott, Dallas experienced some major serendipity by having Tony Romo man the spot for more than a decade.
Prior to those two, however, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback position was a joke. Between Troy Aikman‘s retirement and Romo’s unexpected rise to stardom, the list of guys who filled the void would scare anyone.
Pre-draft position preview: Jason Witten’s departure from Cowboys paves way for the Blake Jarwin show - Michael Gehlkin, DMN
This could be the breakout year for Blake Jarwin.
There is some untapped receiving potential to Jarwin’s game.
He caught 31 of 41 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns in 2019. The yardage was the fourth-most in the NFL among all tight ends who played fewer than 450 offensive snaps, ranking behind Evan Engram, Gerald Everett and Eric Ebron.
Jarwin averaged 8.9 yards per target.
That was the sixth-most among all tight ends who were targeted on at least 40 passes. He sat ahead of the likes of Mark Andrews (8.7), O.J. Howard (8.7), Hunter Henry (8.6) and Noah Fant (8.5) and just behind Travis Kelce (9.0).
Dalton Schultz provided some standout moments as a blocker, but he otherwise was in a rut for much of the year.
A pressure to make the most of every snap can accompany a player who sees so few, and at times, the frustration seemed palpable for Schultz. He played only 117 snaps on offense while being flagged for unnecessary roughness, an illegal shift and holding.
Were all those flags deserving? No. But too often, his name was called for the wrong reason.
Perhaps more significantly, he struggled on special teams. He played only 95 snaps in that department but still muffed a kickoff return against the New England Patriots in the rain and was flagged for holding on a return versus the Green Bay Packers.
How the Cowboys free agency plans for next year impact their strategy for this year’s draft.
Imagine if McGovern wasn’t around right now. Dallas would now be stuck trying to find a backup center in free agency (and that isn’t easy) or spending at least a mid-round pick on one. They might also feel pressure to draft one in the earlier rounds for a more long-term solution.
Sure, the Cowboys might still draft a center if they really like somebody. But the point is that they don’t have to. An investment from last year’s rookie class is hopefully going to pay dividends now.
That same logic should drive some of Dallas’ decision in this draft.
At first glance, we might scoff at the idea of the Cowboys drafting a quarterback in 2020. But if they never reach a long-term deal with Dak Prescott, and with Cooper Rush also set to become a free agent next year, would you regret having someone else in the mix?
Of course, the immediate needs at CB and WR should take precedence over next year’s worries. But depending on the talent available in certain rounds, don’t be shocked if Dallas repeats the McGovern move and drafts someone with 2021 in view.
A high-risk, high-reward defensive back for the second day of the draft.
BRYCE HALL, CB, VIRGINIA
The Cowboys are in a tricky position. They have a desperate need at EDGE and a lot of needs that could be survived but all feel pressing. They have enough talent at cornerback, interior defensive line, tight end and safety that they could get by next year without feeling forced into grabbing a starter at each position.
I’d be hunting high-risk, high-reward picks in the later rounds which Bryce Hall certainly is. He’ll be devalued because he’s scheme-specific — he has to play in Seattle’s cover 3 mold — and his injury history. Hall, however, fits what Dallas valued under DB coach Kris Richard last year: tall, long, speed, ball skills. With Byron Jones out of the building, they need another player who can win in deep third coverage — that’s Hall.
If Hall can’t stay healthy or if he struggles then the Cowboys missed on a Round 3 pick (82nd overall), which is an unsure thing to begin with. They would back with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. If Hall hits as an outside starter in their system, it’s huge value outside of the top 80.
The 2020 NFL draft could have ‘the best receiver class in over a decade,’ and it’s not short on D-FW ties - Calvin Watkins, SportsDay
Not only is this receivers class loaded, but it’s stacked with Texas natives as well.
Devin Duvernay, Texas: He ran a 4.39 40 at the combine. Duvernay, who went to Sachse, had 106 catches for 1,386 yards in 2019.
Aaron Fuller, Washington: The McKinney native had 159 catches for 2,051 yards in four seasons. He also had 13 touchdowns for the Huskies.
James Proche, SMU: Proche was a FWAA second-team All-American and first-team All-AAC. The former DeSoto standout had 15 touchdowns in 2019.
Jalen Reagor, TCU: He played for former Cowboys quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna at Waxahachie. He had five touchdown receptions for TCU last season.
Laviska Shenault, Colorado: The DeSoto product had 56 catches for 764 yards with four touchdowns. He was a second-team All Pac-12 selection.
A theory that teams will rely more on the Senior Bowl participants this year.
After pro days and official team visits were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the last-minute information on the 2020 NFL Draft prospects will go unconfirmed.
Many teams have their draft boards set in the early months of the draft process, but set doesn’t mean perfect. They may have their big board built to correctly identify players they liked after watching film, but further down the board, those late-round gems aren’t as organized. There likely isn’t as much confidence in late-round targets, something every general manager and scouting staff take a lot of pride in.
Teams have had less face-to-face meetings and less personal interaction with some of the players who don’t get the same attention throughout the college football season. These are often the little elements of a late-round prospect’s draft stock that make a Day 3 player more of a priority for one team over another.
Bored and wanting to watch some old games? Mays has you covered with great individual performances — including Romo’s week seven showing versus the Giants during the 2014 season?
Cowboys-Giants | Week 7, 2014
An entire generation of football fans will know Tony Romo as the guy who sits next to Jim Nantz and predicts plays on TV. And that’s a bummer. Romo’s newfound reputation as some football clairvoyant is especially interesting because his best trait as a QB was never his mind. Romo was exciting for the same reasons that Russell Wilson is—he could extend plays, dance around the pocket, and conjure highlights out of thin air. He threw three touchdown passes against the Giants during the Cowboys’ Week 7 win in 2014, and two of them featured some patented Romo improvisation. With Dallas trailing late in the second quarter, Romo spun to his left away from the pass rush, kept his eyes downfield, and fired a ball across his body to Terrance Williams for an 18-yard score. The entire sequence was vintage Romo: undervalued athleticism, impeccable awareness, and a flare for the spectacular.
Romo’s entire body of work is bound to be underrated in the future, as the RINGZ crowd jabbers about his playoff résumé. But 2014 was easily the best season of his career. He was the perfect quarterback to play behind the Cowboys’ stellar offensive line: resourceful enough to seek out the right play when he had time to work and creative enough to manufacture first downs when he didn’t. If the infamous #DezCaughtIt play had gone differently, Romo might have a Super Bowl ring, and we might talk about his career in very different terms. Either way, now is a good time to revisit one of the most entertaining QBs of the past decade.
Which is the greatest Dallas Cowboys team that didn’t win the Super Bowl? We’ll be exploring a few contenders all week on the podcast feed and up first is 1994.
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