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Mike McCarthy’s history at quarterback says the Cowboys aren’t done yet, so a look at draft prospects

Don’t assume Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert, or Ben DiNucci are safe just yet.

NFL: DEC 13 Cowboys at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy has been known as a quarterback guru thanks to his time with the likes of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. Now McCarthy is in Dallas and one thing that McCarthy is known for is drafting quarterbacks, or signing free agent quarterbacks, to come in and battle the current roster behind his starter. After seeing his starter go down last season, and then his backup for a few games, McCarthy will most likely look to find another quarterback to help make his team better.

That’s bad news for Cooper Rush, Garrett Gilbert, and Ben DiNucci who are currently behind starter Dak Prescott. During his time in Green bay with Farve and Rodgers both on the roster, McCarthy and the Packers still decided to take a quarterback in 2006 (Ingle Martin), two quarterbacks in 2008 (Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn), one in 2012 (B.J. Coleman) and 2015 (Brett Hundley). Now, these quarterbacks didn’t really work out but they were able to come in and create competition at the backup quarterback position.

That trend for McCarthy continued when he selected Ben DiNucci in the seventh round in 2020. Unfortunately, DiNucci had to enter a game thanks to a dirty hit on former backup quarterback Andy Dalton. DiNucci was a deer in headlights throwing for 180 yards, four sacks, and two fumbles while trying to make plays, but in the end, wasn’t able to get the job done. Like most of the Cowboys quarterbacks last season he ended up running for his life. It was the opposite for Gilbert who had a fairly good game against the Steelers during his only start of the season throwing for 243 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and two sacks, but he would begin to fade after a strong start to the game which led to another Cowboys loss. And Rush never even had the chance to see the field even though he knew Kellen Moore’s offensive scheme, which should tell you how they felt about him.

If you look at the overall play of these quarterbacks, and the loss of Dalton in free agency, then you have to assume that McCarthy might be pushing hard to draft another quarterback if there’s a guy there he really likes. After you get past the players like Trevor Lawrence, Zack Wilson, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance, it’s possible that the Cowboys pull the trigger on day three of the draft and select either Sam Ehlinger out of Texas or his former teammate Shane Buechele who transferred to SMU. Maybe they look at players outside of Texas and draft Brady White out of Memphis or Zac Thomas out of Appalachian State. Each of these players have the ability to develop into serviceable backup quarterbacks.

Here are their career stats and what they say about the player.

Texas v Kansas State Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Sam Ehlinger - Texas

Passing Yards: 11,436 yards

Rushing Yards: 1,903 yards

Touchdowns: 94 passing and 33 rushing

Interceptions: 27

Completion Percentage: 62%

Player Comparison: Chase Daniels

In Ehlinger you’re getting a leader that willed his teams to victory at times during his career. That leadership helped inspire his teammates on the field, his poise and play-making ability are there. The only issue is that he lacks the accuracy coaches want to see in the NFL. He’s another mobile quarterback that can hurt teams with his legs and extend plays when forced out of the pocket. He’s seen as another quarterback that if he goes to the right team can develop into a good backup quarterback.

SMU v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Shane Buechele - SMU

Passing Yards: 11,660 yards

Rushing Yards: 478 yards

Touchdowns: 87 passing and 8 rushing

Interceptions: 32

Completion Percentage: 63%

Player Comparison: Gardner Minshew

When you look at Buechele you’ll see a quarterback whose height may hurt him in the draft but that shouldn’t stop teams from taking a look and signing him. He’s another quarterback that players around him respect and follow. He’s understands pocket presence and is able to move around in the pocket to buy time and make a play. He’s also a willing runner but he won’t scare teams with his legs. He’s a player that’s a good field general and game manager, just what you need out of your backup quarterback.

Penn State v Memphis Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

Brady White - Memphis

Passing Yards: 10,949 yards

Rushing Yards: -23 yards

Touchdowns: 92 passing and 7 rushing

Interceptions: 31

Completion Percentage: 62%

Player Comparison: T.J. Yates

If you’re looking for an old-school pocket passer then White is your guy. But don’t let the fact that he lacks the ability to scare defenses with his legs fool you, White is a very capable thrower in the pocket. He has a very strong arm as well as accuracy when under pressure from defenders. His poise in the pocket is something that coaches like and will gravitate to if they are looking for a quarterback that can make good reads and get the ball to his receivers on time and with accuracy.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Appalachian State v UAB Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Zac Thomas - Appalachian State

Passing Yards: 6,979 yards

Rushing Yards: 1,301 yards

Touchdowns: 69 passing and 19 rushing

Interceptions: 23

Completion Percentage: 63%

Player Comparison: Kyle Allen

If you’re looking for a practice squad stash at quarterback then Thomas could be someone to look at. He’s got a good arm and can hurt teams on the ground with his legs as well. He may not have as much publicity as the other three quarterbacks but he’s a tough football player who does have upside if given the time to work on his craft at the NFL level.

With Ehlinger and Buechele, the Cowboys would be drafting two quarterbacks that could be immediate upgrades to what they currently have. Both are seen as players that can come and push for the backup quarterback position now and give teams a quarterback that can come in and compete if a starter goes down for a few games. They both look like they would do well in McCarthy’s west coast offensive scheme based on rhythm and getting the ball of their hands-on time. But also having the ability to improvise and make plays with their legs in they need to.

With White and Thomas, you’re getting players that need time to develop. If the Cowboys do decide to ride with the quarterbacks already on the roster, they can sign or draft one of these players like they did with DiNucci and work to get him ready to play in the NFL while allowing Gilbert or someone else to hold down the fort until they are ready to step up and battle for the backup position.

With the draft coming next month we will soon see what McCarthy’s plan is at quarterback. It will be interesting to see what happens then.

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