FRISCO, Texas – Few teams have proven themselves better in the NFL draft than the Dallas Cowboys over the last few years.
At the same time, when you find a franchise quarterback with pick No. 135, it's hard to deny the obvious.
"Sometimes you'd rather be lucky than good," said Will McClay, the Cowboys' vice president of player personnel.
Three years after the fact, that is perhaps the defining storyline from the Cowboys' 2016 draft. The organization uncovered an incredible number of finds, including Ezekiel Elliott and Jaylon Smith. But it's unquestionable that the move that vaulted it into the conversation about the best draft classes in team history was the decision to pick Dak Prescott at the end of the fourth round.
Emphasizing the issue is that the Cowboys searched high and low for a quarterback that year, as they had interest in Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch during the first round and had Michigan State's Connor Cook stolen from them in the beginning of the fourth round.
"We tried to trade for Paxton, and then there was the Connor Cook talk," McClay said. "Then you get into the fourth round and there's a guy that we all loved that came from a system that wasn't 'NFL friendly,' so to speak."
McClay spent an hour with the cast of "The Draft Show" on Thursday, assessing the team's most recent draft class, as well as re-visiting that famous 2016 draft.
In the case of Prescott, McClay pointed out that, however much time might be spent on a player's attributes or his mechanics, immeasurable intangibles can be an equally big part of the equation. The longtime Cowboys evaluator said his staff has tried to put a bigger emphasis on character in recent years for that very reason.
But as a prospect like Prescott can prove, you never really know 100 percent until you make the pick.
"It also makes us realize that we aren't as good as we think we are in this opinionated business," he said. "You've got to get them in your building and all that stuff. You can never discount a guy's heart and determination and all the other stuff. You learn those things, but you don't really know it until you get him in your building."
For the full interview, including McClay's assessment of the 2019 draft class and the Cowboys overall drafting philosophy, the link is below: