Editor's Note: With the draft now behind us, the Cowboys seemingly have a full roster for the offseason and training camp. There will likely be changes here and there but this group will mostly be intact when the real competition begins. So over the next two weeks, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will break down some of the pressing position battles to keep an eye on. Today, we continue with the quarterback position.)
What's the Issue:
The focus of this piece is more about the backup role behind Tony Romo, but obviously, the Cowboys' starting quarterback has his own set of issues that has plagued him the last few years. Coming off a shoulder surgery, which should help prevent more structural damage to his collarbone, Romo needs to prove he can get through a season fully healthy, especially since his backups went a combined 1-11 in the 12 games he missed. Compared to his 3-1 starting record in 2015, it was never more evident how important Romo is to this offense and the entire team.
Behind him, the Cowboys waited until late in the fourth round to get a rookie, drafting Dak Prescott to compete with Kellen Moore for the backup duties. Maybe the Cowboys are still looking for some veteran help, but for now, this is how the position shakes out.
Don't Forget About:
Rob Phillips: We must remember how the offense functioned in the final three games of 2015 with Kellen Moore under center for the first time ever in the regular season. In the previous nine games without Tony Romo, the Cowboys averaged 16.1 points and 188 passing yards. With Moore in at quarterback, the Cowboys averaged only 14 points but increased their passing yardage average to 252 over those three games. Moore threw for 412 yards against the Redskins in the finale and the Cowboys scored 23 points – their highest scoring total in the previous six weeks. Even with Dez Bryant sitting the final two games with foot and ankle injuries, the offense finally got moving down the field again, which gives the team confidence Moore can be better next year if ever needed to step in again. To earn and keep the No. 2 spot behind Romo, though, Moore will have to be much more careful with the ball. He committed seven turnovers in three games, including six interceptions.
David Helman: If I've learned anything about this coaching staff in recent years, it's that they value experience and knowledge of the system. We've seen it time and time again with personnel decisions and playing time breakdowns. With that in mind, I'm incredibly confident that Kellen Moore is going to beat out his competitors for the backup quarterback job this summer. There's no doubt in my mind that Dak Prescott is a better athlete and has a higher upside. But I also know that Moore has worked with Scott Linehan for four years and has started games in the NFL. Moore is also intimately familiar with this offense, whereas Prescott will be trying his best to adapt from a college scheme that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Dallas offense. None of this is a knock on the rookie. He has a high ceiling and he'll get his shot to showcase it. But in 2016, I think the Cowboys will be more confident in the devil they know, so to speak. Moore has limited upside, but he has the experience to handle things confidently and competently. Ultimately, that's why I think he'll be Tony Romo's backup at the outset of the season.
Nick Eatman: Every year, something or someone comes out of nowhere to surprise us. Usually, it's the guy no one is talking about. But let's just not forget about Jameill Showers in this mix. I know it doesn't really make sense because he's not going to beat out Dak Prescott if even he's clearly better, and it's unlikely he does enough to be the No. 2 quarterback behind Romo. But there's something about Showers that could make things very interesting here in the next couple of months. He looks bigger and stronger, but was rather sharp in his throws last weekend with the rookies. The Cowboys tried him at other spots last year for the scout team but they have officially moved him back to quarterback full-time. Maybe he's destined for the practice squad again, but I'll be shocked if this guy just goes away quietly. My gut is that he outperforms Prescott, although it doesn't mean much. In 2003, Clint Stoerner outperformed his competition for the No. 3 spot, but somehow the Cowboys decided to keep ol' Tony Romo around.