The Dallas Cowboys haven't spent many draft picks at quarterback over the last 30 years, and especially not high ones. While they appear set with Dak Prescott for the next several years, should the Cowboys be looking to invest one of their mid-round draft selections on a backup QB in 2021?
Behind Prescott right now is a trio assembled with minimal investment. The current favorite to be backup QB, Garrett Gilbert, was a 6th-round pick in 2014 by the Rams. Ben DiNucci was a 7th-round pick by Dallas last year, and Cooper Rush went undrafted in 2017.
Right now there's little of evidence of what any of these guys could do in a real game. A lot of faith is being put in Gilbert, at least by some Cowboys fans, based on one solid performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers last year. But just as we shouldn't dismiss DiNucci based on his one bad day against Philadelphia, it's silly to give Gilbert a full endorsement on just one decent game.
Like we had with Andy Dalton last year and other veterans in the past, there are still some free agent options to consider. Perhaps someone like Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III, or A.J. McCarron is on Dallas' radar to be signed after May 3rd when they'd no longer hurt the compensatory pick formula for 2022.
But with five picks to use between Rounds 3-5 of the upcoming 2021 Draft, the Cowboys could also be looking to spend one of those at quarterback. Dallas has been more willing to spend draft resources at QB in recent years than they were during the 15 years between Quincy Carter and Dak Prescott.
In 2018 Dallas attempted to add some QB talent with a 5th-round selection of Mike White. Ultimately he couldn't beat Cooper Rush and was discarded the following year for another prospect in Clayton Thorson.
And of course, we all know how a 4th-round pick in 2016 worked out for the Cowboys. Prescott provided immediate value that season when Tony Romo went down and the rest is now history, with hopefully more to be written.
Dallas certainly has many roster needs going into the draft and it's easy to push QB aside. But as we've seen in 2015, 2016, and 2020 with the Cowboys, who you have at backup quarterback matters. It can be the difference between a lost season (2015), remaining competitive (2020), and still having a shot at higher goals (2016).
There are almost always reasonable options for rookie QBs in the middle rounds, and especially once you get into Day 3. Prospects with some mobility, such as Kellen Mond and Jamie Newman, could make sense for Kellen Moore's offense as potential Prescott reserves.
There have been many seasons where, despite talent available, the Cowboys have declined to use their picks at quarterback. So this really comes down more to the team's sense of need and priority about their QB depth.
We've seen seasons where having nothing more than an undrafted Cooper Rush worked out because the starter stayed healthy. And yes, albeit after three years of grooming, an undrafted Tony Romo certainly worked out for the Cowboys as well.
But as with most things in life, you get what you give when it comes to investing in your roster. The odds are better that a player taken in Rounds 3-5 will have higher upside than the current baclup options. Even if he doesn't earn QB2 status in 2021, perhaps he could be superior option next year and for the duration of his rookie contract.
And if that QB turns out like Dak Prescott, then a modest investment now could reap significant rewards in the coming years.