The Dallas Cowboys are starting to put together their final roster for the 2020 season. As training camp practices begin soon, Inside The Star begins a position-by-position breakdown of who is in camp and how the competitions look for various roles throughout the team. Naturally, we're going to kick things off with the quarterbacks.
Last season, Dak Prescott had career highs in passing yards and touchdowns while also posting his second-best passer rating. He blossomed as a franchise QB with Kellen Moore running the offense and hopes to progress further with Mike McCarthy taking over as head coach.
Prescott's big year brought on the franchise tag in 2020 and all of the drama that came with it. The Cowboys were unable to sign Dak to a long-term deal by the deadline and now both parties will have to wait until the 2021 offseason to get that done.
Obviously, that makes this a critical year for Prescott. But he's been given every opportunity to succeed with a loaded offense, continuity at Offensive Coordinator, and the switch from Jason Garrett to McCarthy. It'll be hard to find excuses if Dak doesn't perform in 2020.
Also joining the mix this year is veteran Andy Dalton, one of several longtime starting QBs left scrounging for work in 2020. The Texas native gets is here to backup Prescott and give the Cowboys security as they push to get back to the Super Bowl.
With both starter and backup clearly established, the only question mark at QB for Dallas is between developmental prospects Ben DiNucci and Clayton Thorson. Which of them will make it as the team's third quarterback, and will that player be on the 53-man roster or the practice squad?
Quarterback Pre-Camp Rankings
- Dak Prescott
- Andy Dalton
- Ben DiNucci vs Clayton Thorson
Again, the only real debate here is at the bottom of the depth chart. While a few so-called “fans” have clamored for Dallas to dump Dak and go with Dalton, most know that Prescott is the superior player at this point and the QB of the future for the Cowboys. At the very least, Dak is the franchise-tagged starter in 2020.
As for DiNucci and Thorson, one of the biggest losses in not having a preseason is missing out on watching these guys play. While the exhibition games can be deceiving, they also are the only glimpse we usually get of these developmental quarterbacks.
Despite being a 7th-round rookie, Ben DiNucci is already developing a following based on his college tapes and the general hype around Dallas' 2020 draft class. Given that he's also a fresh pick by the Cowboys' new coaching staff, and particularly our new QB-minded head coach, it's not unreasonable to consider him the current front-runner.
That said, Clayton Thorson was a 5th-round pick a year ago and spent 2019 on Dallas' practice squad. That experience, especially since Kellen Moore is still the offensive coordinator, is invaluable for him in this competition.
Keep in mind that Thorson was drafted by the Eagles, whose head coach Doug Pederson is a disciple of the West Coast offense much like Mike McCarthy is. So while McCarthy did have a say in drafting DiNucci, he could also find favorable qualities in Thorson's game as well.
Only time and performance will tell who emerges between DiNucci and Thorson and even then a spot on the official roster is far from guaranteed. Dallas may elect to keep just Prescott and Dalton and let the developmental player fall to the practice squad, saving a roster spot for some other position.