This week, Patrick Mahomes nearly broke the internet when he signed a 10-year contract extension that is worth more than $500 million, setting the stage for Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson to receive new deals. Where do they rank among NFL QBs?
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN spoke to a number of different league executives, coaches, scouts, and players to compile a ranking of the 10 best quarterbacks heading into the upcoming season. As there is with any list, there is some debate on where players landed on the ranking.
Dak Prescott landed inside the top-10 for quarterbacks going into the upcoming NFL season.
As the Cowboys and Dak Prescott attempt to negotiate a contract extension ahead of the July 15 deadline, the Dallas signal-caller found himself ranked as a top-10 quarterback in the league by many important decision makers. Coming off an impressive 2019 campaign, that should be no question — the debate, in my opinion, should be where Prescott lands in the top-10, not if.
In these rankings compiled by Fowler and ESPN, Prescott lands at number nine on the list, ahead of the likes of Matt Stafford (10) and Matt Ryan (also receiving votes). Many evaluators placed Prescott in that 7-to-12 range, according to Fowler.
Prescott checks a lot of boxes. He averages 10 wins per season, he’s never missed a game, he pushed for 5,000 yards last season and, as one NFL coordinator said after a recent film study, he has elite footwork in the pocket.
All this was enough to earn Prescott a few top-five votes, but he was mostly in the 7-to-12 range, with evaluators citing inconsistent ball placement as a core issue.
Prescott was ranked as high as four in these rankings and as low as 13. One AFC executive does not think that he has improved throwing the football since 2016. That seems very strange considering that Prescott turned in a career year throwing the ball and graded very favorably by nearly every metric.
“He’ll get paid as one of the best, but he’s certainly not top five and marginal top 10,” one AFC exec said. “That great rookie season set the stage for him to hit another level that he never really was going to hit. The bar got set high and I don’t know if he can reach it. Hasn’t thrown it as well since .”
On the other hand, an AFC assistant coach stated that the Cowboys’ signal-caller is “a pure pocket guy now with the ability to win with athleticism”. The film from last season would assuredly support that opinion.
Numbers say Prescott deserves more serious consideration. He was among the top eight in QBR while inside the pocket (67.7), outside the pocket (78.3) and under pressure (25.7). He had the second-most deep-ball completions in the NFL.
“The evolution of him is great,” an AFC assistant coach said. “People said coming out he wasn’t the most gifted rhythmic passer on timing, but he’s really grown in that building. He’s a pure pocket guy now with the ability to win with athleticism, and a lot of quarterbacks out there are not.”
Prescott did come in behind the likes of Carson Wentz (8) and the aging Tom Brady (7) in these rankings, although Wentz did have a lower floor than Prescott on the list. Though Dak has led the Cowboys to regular season success, it appears that winning more in the postseason would push him up higher in the rankings.
Many cite the Cowboys’ loaded offensive depth chart as a comparison for quarterbacks on lesser teams; imagine what Player X would do in that offense. Prescott has done pretty well with it. But fair or not, one playoff win in four years isn’t enough for many.
There will undoubtedly be some debate on where each player landed in these rankings. Quarterbacks such as Ryan, Kyler Murray, and Kirk Cousins just missed the top-10, while both Derek Carr and Sam Darnold received a vote.
While Mahomes is almost in his own tier in quarterback play and Russell Wilson is not too far behind him, you can almost throw everyone else from 3-to-10 or so into a box and come up with some kind of reasonable ranking between them.
For instance, Prescott was ranked as high as four, Deshaun Watson was ranked as high as three and as low as outside the top-10 (11), and there is some debate on just how good Brady is as he will turn 43 before the season begins.
And to get an even clearer picture on how these executives voted, there is this:
I've got a feeling the same AFC Executive that said Prescott hasn't thrown the ball well since 2016 also ranked Aaron Rodgers as the second-best QB in the league entering 2020. https://t.co/tvnZnz4ywd pic.twitter.com/OF4HGtbM92— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) July 8, 2020
Nonetheless, Prescott finds himself on a top-10 list a week before he and the Cowboys either come to terms on an extension or allow Prescott to play the season on the franchise tag.