For the past 10 days Dallas Cowboys fans have been sweating over who will back up Tony Romo come the season opener as many expect Owner Jerry Jones to be in the market for a veteran back-up given Romo’s recent injury history. What many Cowboys fans did not expect was that the Cowboys have the perfect backup already on their roster in Dak Prescott.
Prescott was a Quarterback who flew under the radar following the NFL Draft and during the first few weeks of training camp in Dallas. Jerry Jones came out after the Draft saying he regretted not trading up for Quarterback Paxton Lynch late in the 1st round, despite the Cowboys taking Prescott on day three in the 4th round. Prescott earned 2x First-team All-SEC honours in 2014 and 2015 at Mississippi State while he was awarded the Senior Bowl Most Outstanding Player award in 2016. Prescott was a record breaker at Mississippi State and a threat through both the air and on the ground as in 2014 he threw for 3,449 yards with 27 touchdowns alongside running for 986 yards with 14 more touchdowns. Although Preskott’s 40-yard time at the Combine was not impressive as he posted a 4.79, he clearly has the athleticism and mobility in the pocket and can be a threat to tuck the ball and run for first downs.
Coming out of College
Dak Prescott had 2nd/ 3rd round ability yet slid to the Cowboys in the 4th round. Coming out of Mississippi State many scouts praised Prescott’s thick, muscular frame and his toughness as he took a pounding during his three years as a starter in Mississippi. Scouts also picked up that when Prescott had a clean pocket (which was not often) that he could deliver accurate strikes in NFL tight windows around the field. Prescott delivers a tight spiral and can connect on the deep ball with over-the-top delivery. He also ‘runs to throw’ meaning that when he scrambles out of the pocket on feeling pressure he uses his legs to extend plays so that he can connect with his receivers down the field. He then only tucks and runs when his receivers fail to get open and he needs to use his feet to gain a first down.
A knock on Dak Prescott coming out of college was that he ‘hype aware’ of pressure resulting in him often sliding out of the pocket instead of simply repositioning himself. However, this is something that can be remedied in Dallas as this was largely a result of the poor Offensive Line Prescott was playing behind in Mississippi. Prescott also needed to improve on his mechanics in terms of footwork and the speed with which he goes through his progressions. Yet the Cowboys ended up with a good Quarterback who put up ridiculous numbers behind an awful Offensive Line. This is something that should bode well for both Prescott and Dallas as if he continues to play first team reps during the preseason he will be operating behind the NFL’s best Offensive Line.
The first Preseason game
Dak Prescott played the entire first half against the Los Angeles Rams and dazzled in a performance that saw him go 10 of 12 for 139 yards to go along with 2TDs and 0 interceptions. Prescott took 9 snaps from the shotgun and 3 under center where we saw Prescott’s improved footwork. Prescott should have been 12 for 12 as the two incompletions were both bad drops by his receivers. Prescott showed remarkable poise and looked calm as he threw a pair of touchdowns in an impressive preseason debut. Prescott showed mobility at times and had clearly improved on some of the knocks coming out of college as he went through his progressions quickly and hooked up with eight different receivers all over the field.
Analysis, Prescott’s three best throws: Dak Prescott connected on a back shoulder throw to Dez Bryant on a 2nd and 9 for 18 yards. Prescott showed off his accuracy as threw in an NFL tight window and allowed Bryant to pull in a ball that Corner Coty Sensabaugh had no chance of playing. Prescott then took a snap out of the shotgun with play action and connected with Dez Bryant for a touchdown on a beautifully thrown fade as he placed the ball perfectly for the tall physical Bryant to go up and bring down with a Corner all over him. Yet Prescott’s best throw was from the shotgun on a 1st and 10 where he pump faked and used his eyes to fool both the Safety and Corner. Prescott then turned his eyes quickly to the left and moved up in the pocket to throw a dime to his hot route, Wide Receiver Terrance Williams who used a double move in order to create separation and caught the ball down the side line in the end zone. The throw was NFL-calibre but the ability to use his eyes to look off the Safeties alongside the pump fake is something that will certainly have Cowboys fans purring and speculating about who will take over the Quarterback job in the next few years when Tony Romo hang up his cleats.
Throughout the game Prescott showed great touch as he connected with his receivers on underneath and mid-range throws both through the middle and outside the numbers. It was an impressive performance from a rookie who will have certainly turned heads within the Cowboys organisation.
Dak Prescott dazzled in his preseason opener as he showed pose, composure, touch and a feel for pressure as he connected with receivers on a variety of throws all over the field. While this was only his debut, it is hard not to be impressed as the Rookie looked light years ahead of his age and resembled a calm veteran presence against the Rams. Cowboys fans will hope that Prescott can build on this impressive performance in the next three preseason games and learn behind Romo as his back up in 2016. Tony Romo has struggled stay healthy in recent years and if Prescott does win the back-up job then he may have to take over the reigns of the Cowboys offence at some point during the regular season. In the next few years Tony Romo will begin to contemplate retirement. If Dak Prescott can continue to impress and develop then we might be seeing the first few glimpses of the Dallas Cowboys’ future at Quarterback.