That’s what separated Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz in the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz, the second overall pick out of North Dakota State so good the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to snag him. Prescott, the 135th pick out of Mississippi State who the Cowboys settled on after missing out on Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook.
Carson Wentz was taken to be a franchise quarterback. Dak Prescott was taken as a fourth round dart throw. Maybe he could learn under Tony Romo and become something. Maybe.
But regardless of what their pre-draft stories were, and how different their roads to starting quarterback have been, the two will forever be intertwined in football lore. Especially in Dallas and Philadelphia.
It’s rare two rival teams each find their quarterback of the future in the same class, but that’s what happened in 2016.
For the most part, the Dak/Wentz rivalry hasn’t reached its apex. Often their matchups have either been too early in the season to really matter, or have been meaningless week 17 games where everything is wrapped up.
In 2018, however, that all changed. Prescott and Wentz squared off on December 9th with just a game separating them in the NFC East standings. Prescott was at home and had already defeated Wentz and the Eagles once earlier in the year. Still, this game gave the winner the inside track to a home playoff spot.
And when the game mattered most, Dak Prescott was the one who really delivered. Prescott threw for 455 yards and 3 touchdowns, including the game winner to Amari Cooper in overtime. The win gave the Cowboys a commanding lead in the division, and Prescott bragging rights over Wentz for the time being.
But for as meaningful as that win was, Sunday’s game is the biggest this young rivalry has seen.
A de facto playoff game, the NFC East title is on the line in Philadelphia this Sunday. Each young quarterback is dealing with handcuffing factors. Prescott’s shoulder seems to be a legitimate issue, as he has been held out of practice for much of this crucial week.
Wentz’s issue isn’t his own health, it’s his weaponry and the health of those around him. While Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders are talented pass catchers, the Eagles receiving corps has been decimated by injuries this season. His play hasn’t been on par with what was expected of him before the year, but the lack of help from his skill position players certainly plays a big role in the production drop.
This week both teams come in at 7-7, each vastly underperforming in comparison to their preseason hype. But regardless of how these teams have gotten here, a win this week would heal a whole lot of wounds.
Because like their starting quarterbacks, the roads the Cowboys and Eagles have taken to this division title game are now irrelevant.
All that matters is how they perform now that it is all on the line.