It's been two years since the Dallas Cowboys made Quarterback Ben DiNucci a 7th-round draft pick. The mostly forgotten prospect is still on the roster ahead of the 2022 season and, barring any late changes, will be back competing for a job in training camp.
DiNucci's unorthodox throwing style and scrambling ability gave him intrigue as a rookie. But after Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton were both injured in 2020, Ben got his first start against the Eagles and was nothing short of a disaster. The Cowboys went with Garrett Gilbert the following week and Ben's never been heard from since.
That wasn't the only indication that Dallas had lot faith in DiNucci. Last year, rather than keeping him on the roster as QB3, the Cowboys claimed Will Grier during final cuts and left DiNucci dangling on the practice squad.
So far this offseason, though, Dallas hasn't brought in any new faces at quarterback. We've made it through multiple waves of free agency, the draft, and the signing of undrafted rookies and Cooper Rush, Grier, and DiNucci remain the contenders for the backup jobs.
There's certainly potential for that to still change. We're still two months away from the start of camp and the Cowboys could have their eyes on any number of QB prospects from other team's rosters, or still be doing their homework on some unsigned options.
But for now, Ben DiNucci is still with Dallas and has a fighting chance. While nobody would project him to become Dak Prescott's immediate backup, could he show enough improvement in his third year to challenge for the third spot?
Yesterday I listed Will Grier as one of the potential sleepers on the roster. If Grief were to win the backup job over Cooper Rush, could Dallas then decide they'd rather have a younger prospect at the bottom of the depth chart?
Rush has been around since 2017 and turns 29 in November. If he can't beat out Grier to remain the backup then Dallas could decide it's time to move on completely from the veteran.
Another scenario; Grier was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 by Carolina. If he struggles in camp or preseason then the Cowboys may give him even less rope than DiNucci. Teams always prefer their own draft picks anyway, so Will can't afford to let DiNucci make it a debate.
Of course, things could unfold exactly as we expect and Ben DiNucci will either land on the practice squad or the street by September. But for now he's still clinging to hope in Dallas and hasn't yet been discarded for a fresh-faced rookie. If that holds, DiNucci will be in Oxnard showing what he's learned in his third season.