FRISCO, Texas – Front offices across this league will use any means at their disposal to gain an edge, and the Cowboys happen to employ a personable franchise quarterback.
Dak Prescott made headlines during last weekend's NFL Draft when Jalen Tolbert, newly drafted by the Cowboys at No. 88 overall, allowed that Prescott had called him as part of the pre-draft process.
Reflecting on the draft process Tuesday, Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel Will McClay said the goal was to get Prescott involved in the process, while also drawing from the strength of his personality.
"I just felt in talking to him, with his unique ability to communicate with everyone and to draw something from that, was to give him a couple receivers to talk to, get them on the phone and kind of get some feedback from him," McClay said.
Prescott called Tolbert, as well as several other prospects, in the time leading up to draft weekend. Tolbert called it a surreal moment, because he didn't know quarterbacks called prospects ahead of time. Initially, he thought someone might be calling to verify his phone number, and he instead wound up talking to Prescott for 20 minutes about his life, career and how he might fit with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.
"We talked about my previous relationships with my quarterbacks. We talked about my strengths on and off the field, what challenges I have to overcome. Also, what I can bring to the table," he said. "Dak was asking me if he could put me at X by myself in a three by one, and I could go to the slot in between CeeDee and Michael. We just talked."
McClay smiled when asked if it was, in fact, normal for franchise quarterbacks to call prospects before they had been drafted to their team.
"I don't know what other teams do, I don't know what's normal," he said. "I just felt that it was important to get Dak involved in it, and we've talked about the importance that he has for the organization and the way that he connects with everybody."
The call clearly went well. A few days after Prescott placed the call, the Cowboys turned in the card to make Tolbert their third-round pick. McClay said the feedback they got from Prescott spoke highly to Tolbert's mindset and preparation.
"He was very excited about the way that he approached football, the way that he approached this process," McClay said. "Who's to say what's going to happen when he gets on the field with us, but you look for the preparation, the mindset going through this."
Of course, the quarterback's approval wasn't the only piece of the puzzle. Wide receivers coach Robert Prince also worked Tolbert out personally, and the personnel department clearly had a quality grade on the South Alabama standout. Each new bit of feedback does a little more to inform the final decision.
Even still, establishing a rapport with the starting quarterback before you're even on the team is a heck of a way to start out.