By most accounts, Dak Prescott is a top 10 quarterback but this is a telling year

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
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Saying the name Dak Prescott is enough to warrant opinions of all shapes and sizes. Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks are placed under a microscope. And when looking this closely, there are different aspects that people might see.

Some might see Dak as a polished pocket passer. Some might think of Prescott as a dual-threat quarterback at times. Others might see him as a player that doesn't win when it matters. Some might see him as a hyper-competitive quarterback who will do anything to win.

The beauty of sports is that all of these opinions are able to coexist. But from a bird’s eye view, what is the prevailing opinion of Dak Prescott?

By most accounts, Dak is a top 10 quarterback but this is a telling year

Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

We will look at 10 different sports media outlets. These are not cherry-picked. The outlets selected were the first 10 results that appear when searching for a ranking of the 2022 NFL quarterbacks.

So, at the most basic level, here is where Prescott lands when power ranking the current quarterbacks in the league heading into 2022:

The last two get a little tricky. At face value, PFF seems to have Prescott inside their top ten while CBS Sports does not. But by all other accounts, the NFL community views Prescott as a top-ten quarterback. Since he almost exclusively falls as either eighth or ninth, one would think that people seem to be on the same page about Prescott.

But this is not the case. Because the most prevalent takeaway from these ten rankings is that two groups have emerged. And one group is going to be right in 2022.

There is group one, which can be best summarized with NBC Sport’s evaluation of Prescott:

Dak’s sixth pro season was by far his best, with career-high marks in touchdowns, completion percentage and passer rating, finishing in the top five in the league in all three categories. All we’re waiting to see from Prescott is if he can get the Cowboys beyond the divisional round — he’s 1-3 in the postseason, including a loss to the 49ers in the wild-card round this year.

We can label this opinion the “big picture” group. When looking at the 2021 season as a whole they saw a Cowboys offense that finished first by points and yards, won 12 games, and took the third seed in the NFC. While the playoff loss against the 49ers was not Prescott’s greatest moment, the “big picture” group doesn't seem too concerned with it. But the inability to win in the postseason is starting to raise a few questions.

And then we have the “week-by-week” group, which can be summarized with the NFL’s evaluation:

After Prescott’s fast start to the season, his inaccuracy and tentative play made for one of the most inexplicable stories in the entire league. He still mixed in enough boffo games to finish with strong stats, but the bar is higher for Prescott, considering his teammates.

This seems to be the group that most Cowboys fans side with. While Prescott’s 2021 campaign might have been respectable as a whole, between weeks it was inconsistent, messy, and led to an early exit in the postseason. Prescott clearly has the talent to be a top-tier quarterback but the application of that talent is not consistent enough to inspire the utmost faith.

These are the two opinions that are observable with one search for “2022 QBs ranked.” And 2022 is an important year for these two dissenting opinions.

Because in 2020, Prescott only played five games and excelled in those matchups. In 2021, the inconsistency started after the calf strain. But in 2022, Prescott will be the healthiest he has been in years. He will have a team that is slightly worse but similar to 2021. This is the year that will reveal which opinion is more correct.

If a healthy Prescott can maintain an entire season close to the first five weeks of 2020, or before the calf strain in 2021, the “big picture” group will be more correct. This implies that Prescott similarly succeeds in the postseason. If this occurs, then the up-and-downs of last year will be swept under the rug as a result of Prescott’s calf. He would solidify himself as an unquestioned top-10 QB.

If Prescott falls flat in 2022 or deals with inconsistency problems that results in another early-round postseason loss, the “week-by-week” group will be right. At that point, Prescott will begin to fall out of the consensus top 10. While inconsistent play can be excused due to injury for a few years, it eventually reaches a tipping point. 2022 is this tipping point.

Right now, both sides are playing the waiting game with Prescott. He is sitting at the back end of top-10 quarterback territory regardless of which opinion people side with. But this year will change that. Prescott will either do enough to prove that he can maintain a successful season when healthy, and that will catapult him into the top six or seven. Or he comes out flat and inconsistent and he will fall out of the top 10.

If you have already formed your opinion, and cannot be swayed, then maybe 2022 isn't as important as this article is making it out to be. But for most, Prescott is under a microscope and has some work to do.

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