The start of the Dallas Cowboys’ 2019 Training Camp is just a little over two weeks away. This seems the right time to start looking at each position and seeing how much impact camp and the preseason could have on the projected depth chart. We’ll begin this series where it all begins and ends at quarterback.
Spoiler alert; Dak Prescott is the starting QB this year. Don’t need to wait until final cuts, preseason, or even dinner time tonight to tell you that one.
There is plenty of intrigue with Prescott in 2019 as far as his progress, adaptation to a new offensive coordinator, and how all of that translates to his possible contract extension. But for the purposes of this article, and the position series as a whole, Dak your starter is an absolute lock.
Based on last year and everything that’s happened throughout the offseason, here’s the projected depth chart at quarterback for the 2019 season:
- Dak Prescott
- Cooper Rush
- Mike White
Despite a lackluster 2018 preseason, Rush held on to the backup job last year. He never had to play the entire year, which is ideal anytime you’re talking about the reserve quarterbacks. But it does leave you wondering just who Cooper is in this third NFL season.
If Rush can come in and look like the guy we saw in 2017, who was downright dazzling in those preseason games, then confidence will soar once again. But if it’s a repeat or regression from last year, then that will leave most with a lot of concern about the QB depth for 2019.
Mike White, Dallas’ fifth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, could do something to help in that situation. Could the second-year passer make a leap that vaults him over Cooper Rush and brings a better sense of security at backup QB?
The Cowboys have not been a team that uses draft picks lightly on the quarterback position. They’ve only drafted three QBs in Jason Garrett’s tenure as head coach and coordinator: White, Prescott, and Stephen McGee.
McGee, a fourth-round pick in 2009, got three seasons and the 2012 offseason to develop before he was finally released. Dallas didn’t spend a mid-round pick on White without the expectation that he could develop into a solid backup player.
With Kellen Moore’s ascension to Offensive Coordinator and Jon Kitna arriving as the new QB Coach, the competition between Rush and White for the backup job should be wide open. Trying to predict now who will win is almost impossible; Rush has the extra year of experience, but White has the perceived upside and draft pedigree.
The major worry is if neither of these guys earn trust, which will have everyone jumping on the lists of available veteran quarterbacks to see if Dallas can improve things behind Prescott.
Unfortunately, the situation there is pretty bleak.
One guy worth mentioning is Sam Bradford, who is currently a free agent after a failed season with the Arizona Cardinals. While his potentially great NFL career got derailed by injuries, Bradford is still just 31 and a former first-overall draft pick.
Bradford is probably waiting to see if any team’s suffer injuries to their starters; a situation where he could get a call to walk in to the job. But if those don’t materialize, Dallas might be able to snag him to be Dak’s backup. Of course, the #8 and #9 jersey numbers wouldn’t be available.
Beyond Sam is a list of horror stories that we’ve already lived through. Some of the next best options are the likes of Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden, and Mark Sanchez. No thanks. Even the projected QB options after final cuts don’t offer more hope.
This is the worst-case scenario. Ideally, either Rush or White will show enough that Dallas is happy with them as the reserves for 2019 and doesn’t need to look outside.
Right now, my prediction is that White will win the job. There’s the potential to take a big step forward in his second year.
Mike also has a tiebreaker going for him from a contractual standpoint. The Cowboys could preserve his four-year rookie deal by keeping him on the 53, then moving Cooper to the practice squad. That would open up a roster spot from some other position.
So while Dak Prescott is the big story almost any other time of year, these next few weeks are going to see a lot of focus on Cooper Rush and Mike white? Who emerges as the backup QB, and does either do enough to keep Dallas from looking for a free agent solution?