Dak Prescott is one of the best deep passing quarterbacks in the NFL. This is not an opinion according to advanced stats. While saying Dak Prescott’s name along the word “best” in any context elicits some impassioned responses, this one is backed up by data.
Again, it is one thing for opinions to be thrown around. If those matter at all to you then maybe the one of Randall Cobb (who recently called Dak elite) will provide some hope or throw more fuel on the fire. But we are talking about stats here.
Dak Prescott ranked as one of the best deep passing quarterbacks in the NFL last season
There has been some recent chatter on the internet praising Dak Prescott, specifically the work that he does at the line of scrimmage pre-snap, but as you can imagine that has led to the usual discourse. Eye test and all that stuff.
Notably NFL.com recently ranked the best deep passing quarterbacks in the league last season (they also ranked the most explosive runners where Tony Pollard showed up) and Dak Prescott was a part of the list.
Dak was not only present and accounted for, he was near the very top. He came in at number four.
4 Dak Prescott
Dallas Cowboys · Age 29
Deep attempts: 14-of-35, 484 yards, 5:1 TD-INT, 115.2 passer rating
Deep comp: 40%
Deep xComp: 29.7%
Deep CPOE: +10.3%
PASSING SCORE (on deep attempts): 99
Last offseason, the Cowboys traded Amari Cooper to Cleveland, hurting the overall strength of their receiving corps while creating salary-cap solvency. Unsurprisingly, Prescott’s numbers dipped in 2022. If you need one metric that illustrates a lack of downfield effectiveness from Dallas’ passing game as a whole, look at Prescott’s expected completion percentage on deep attempts, which fell short of 30. This suggests the Cowboys’ lack of firepower helped opposing defenses limit Dallas’ downfield opportunities.
Prescott’s ability to overcome disadvantages on deep throws is a big part of what landed him at No. 4 here. Among the quarterbacks on this list, Prescott finished with the third-highest completion percentage over expected. His TD-to-INT ratio on such attempts boosted his EPA to +28.9 on deep attempts. The gross totals weren’t gaudy; Prescott was the only quarterback in this ranking to fall short of 500 yards on deep attempts (keep in mind that he missed five games last season due to injury). But he was still highly productive despite having just one pass-catcher (CeeDee Lamb) log more than two deep catches last season.
It is noted in the write-up that Prescott missed a lot of time which can be argued in two different ways. Critics will say that his averages would have fallen with more opportunities where supporters will counter that more opportunities would have led to more success.
Whatever side of that coin you fall on, it is really nice to see Dak showing up here given how important deep passes are in today’s game. We all vividly remember 3rd and 30 but the data shows that Dak is a successful deep passer week in and week out.
If you are curious, the only quarterbacks ahead of Dak here (going from third to first) are Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa and Geno Smith. All three of them had solid seasons after beginning the year (2022 that is) with some questions. Dak is the only one of the top four to have had an established presence with his team prior to the 2022 season and to deliver high marks.