Quarterback prospect Clayton Thorson spent 2019 on the Dallas Cowboys’ practice squad after failing to make it past final cuts in Philadelphia. Will Thorson’s potential, having been a fifth-round pick just a year ago by the Eagles, keep Dallas from exploring other QB options in the 2020 NFL Draft?
The Cowboys have been investing more draft capital into the QB position in recent years. Two years ago they spent a fifth-round pick on Mike White and, of course, that infamous fourth-rounder on Dak Prescott in 2016. They have shown a greater priority to maintaining a pipeline of passing talent than in the past.
If that pattern were to hold then that would mean spending a mid-round pick on a new QB prospect this April.
However, Clayton Thorson is just entering his second year. This would also be his first offseason with the Cowboys, and a fresh start for almost everyone with Mike McCarthy and his staff replacing the Jason Garrett regime.
By cutting Mike White and adding Thorson last year, Dallas essentially swapped one fifth-round guy for another. They’d seen Mike’s work for over a year and let him walk to add Clayton, resetting with a fresh rookie QB prospect with more perceived upside.
This isn’t to say that the Cowboys won’t add at least one more passer as a training camp body, but Thorson’s presence could be enough to keep Dallas from spending a draft pick on the position in 2020.
A key factor here will be McCarthy, whose coaching roots and professional resume have centered around the quarterback position. What does he think of Clayton Thorson’s potential, and what might he think of some of the prospects in the class of 2020?
Another issue will be the current contract statuses at the QB position. As of now, neither Dak Prescott or Cooper Rush are signed beyond 2020.
Dak is currently looking at a year on the franchise tag and Rush got a one-year deal as a restricted free agent. If a long-term deal with Prescott isn’t reached by the draft, could the Cowboys be more concerned about putting an insurance measure in place?
No, I don’t think they’d spend anything above a third-round pick even with Prescott and Rush on their one-year deals. But if someone is there late Friday night or early Saturday that McCarthy thinks has potential, the team may defer to their new head coach and let him have his guy to groom.
Again, Clayton Thorson could be that guy. He’s barely had a chance to show his stuff in the NFL and definitely not with the Cowboys. Dallas may want to give him at least one full offseason before drafting someone who would almost assuredly take Thorson’s spot on the roster or practice squad.
Like most topics in this 2020 offseason, everything is clouded by the additional variable of Mike McCarthy’s arrival. We’ve had a decade of knowing how things worked under Garrett; this is the first chance to learn how to adjust our expectations and projections in the McCarthy era.
Will Clayton Thorson get a chance to stick around in Dallas in 2020? Or will changes among the decision makers cause him to get discarded yet again?