The Dallas Cowboys decided to let both Mike White and Taryn Christion go in their final cuts last week, leaving themselves with just two quarterbacks on their 2019 roster. But instead of bringing either of them back on the practice squad, Dallas added a fresh face in rookie passer Clayton Thorson out of Northwestern University.
Thorson was a 5th-round pick in April's draft of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was selected 167th overall, which was two slots after Dallas drafted DE Joe Jackson and nine picks after CB Michael Jackson.
Clayton struggled in training camp and preseason for Philly and did not make their roster. The Eagles kept veterans Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld behind starter Carson Wentz, then added former Giants prospect Kyle Lauletta to their practice squad.
For quarterback, Cowboys elected to add external option to practice squad. They are signing former Eagles QB Clayton Thorson, sources said. Rookie fifth-round pick from Northwestern.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 1, 2019
Thorson entered the NFL after being a four-year starter for the Wildcats. He set school records for passing yards, completions, and touchdowns and had a 36-17 record as a starter.
While Dallas had opportunities to draft Clayton themselves this year, they were committed to letting Cooper Rush and Mike White compete for jobs. It wasn't until White washed out this preseason that the Cowboys were ready to move on, and they must have had their eye on Thorson for a while.
I was surprised that Dallas didn't stick with Taryn Christion, whose athletic ability made him an intriguing prospect for further development. But given that Thorson went in the 5th Round of the same draft where Christion wasn't selected at all, teams must have seen a gap in talent.
Practice squad players may not seem that important at times, but it might only take one injury for Clayton Thorson to wind up on the Cowboys' official roster. With only Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush currently on the depth chart, Dallas would have to add somebody should either of them miss time.
Even then it might not be the rookie. Given Thorson's shaky preseason, Dallas could look to outside help before calling him up to the 53 to be the primary backup.
That said, they must see something in Clayton Thorson to now make that investment of developmental work. Having a good pipeline of QB talent is a wise business model, and hopefully the Cowboys have upgraded by choosing Thorson over their other options.