The 2016 Dallas Cowboys draft class is here, and it covers just about everything we expected it to. After their premier fourth overall pick was used on running back Ezekiel Elliott, a move that will help Dallas dominate time of possession and keep the defense off the field, the bulk of the team's remaining picks were spent on stacking that very defensive unit.
However, there is one fourth round pick that went towards the offense, and that is what I am here to talk about. We knew the Cowboys would be bringing in a quarterback at some point in this draft, and they chose to do so with the 135th overall pick by way of Mississippi State's Dak Prescott.
Prescott was apparently the Cowboys' choice of signal callers only after they missed out on Paxton Lynch, who went to the Broncos, and Connor Cook – who went to the Oakland Raiders with the 100th overall pick.
Of course, none of this would have been possible if Jerry Jones overpaid for a move up to select Paxton Lynch.
Jerry Jones said he got about only 3 hours of sleep after missing out on Paxton Lynch. "I was still mad about it the next morning."
Jerry Jones: "When I look back on my life, I've overpaid for my big successes every time. I probably should've overpaid [for Paxton Lynch]."
Lynch would have certainly cost the Cowboys Jaylon Smith, who easily could turn out to be the steal of this draft. A top-5 talent before his injury, adding him at 100% with Ezekiel Elliott in the same draft would immediately put the Cowboys near the top of any draft grades.
The next picks that would need to be given up were those used on Collins or Tapper. Dallas' defensive line needs as much help as it can get, so adding Elliott along with the 3-tech DT Collins at 67 was definitely the way to go. Tapper's pick (101) was apparently more up for grabs, which is scary considering he was the only defensive end brought in.
Additionally, if not for the Raiders move up into the fourth round's second pick, the Cowboys could have used Tapper's spot on Michigan State's Cook. All in favor of walking away from this draft with 0 edge rushers and 1 troubled back-up QB?
That's what I thought…
Cowboys Nation should be incredibly happy to “settle” for Dak Prescott. A full time starter in 2014 and 2015 for the SEC's Mississippi State, his completion percentage increased from 61.6% to 66.2% over these two seasons. Prescott's decision making was also improved, as the numbers show a 27/11 TD to interception ratio in 2014 followed by a 29/5 performance this past year.
Then there are the intangible things that will help Prescott develop as a potential starter for America's Team down the line. His 2014 Miss. St. Bulldogs team was a hot commodity through the middle part of their season, as they shot up to the #1 team in the country for the first time ever.
During this 3 week run as the top team in the nation, Prescott completed 60.7% of his passes against tough SEC competition. While things fell apart for the team down the stretch, losing two of their last three games to Alabama and rival Ole Miss, Prescott handled the pressure of bringing his school into the foreground of SEC and college football – becoming a potential Heisman Trophy target.
The same high-pressure moments, week in and week out, did not exist for Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook. Lynch never faced top competition at Memphis in his QB-friendly offense, and Cook struggled in some of his team's biggest games.
Against the National Championship winning Alabama defense during the 2015 CFB Semifinals, Cook completed 19 passes on 39 attempts, failing to throw a touchdown and adding two picks in Michigan State's 38-0 loss. The week prior, to get the Spartans into the playoffs, Cook was on the right end of a 16-13 conference championship game win against Iowa – despite completing just 50% of his passes for no touchdowns and one interception.
Add in his off the field issues, and it becomes clear that the Cowboys draft haul as a whole is perfect right where it is – with QB Dak Prescott potentially securing the future at his position.
Prescott grew up a Cowboys fan, and likely has a chip on his shoulder that he lasted up until the fourth round. However, they say some matches are made in heaven, and I feel that Prescott to Dallas is certainly one of them.
Being able to sit behind Tony Romo for a few seasons will help Dak out greatly, as he slowly adjusts to the NFL level of competition. Dual-threat quarterbacks are the newest trend in this pass-happy league, and it appears to be here to stay.
The Cowboys have themselves one in Dak Prescott, who could be ready to show the league his full potential in just a few years.
So, for every time an opposing QB playing against the Cowboys takes a beating in the fourth quarter – provided by Charles Tapper and Maliek Collins – due to their team trailing with little time remaining (we love you already, Zeke), take a moment to look over to the sidelines and find Dak Prescott taking it all in. The 6'2″ signal caller will be patiently waiting for his opportunity to shine with the star on the side of his helmet.
Then, remember how it could have gone so horribly, horribly wrong, if the Cowboys landed Paxton Lynch or Connor Cook.