IRVING, Texas – Dak Prescott's adjustment from college star to NFL quarterback began this weekend at rookie minicamp.
The fourth-round pick said the pass plays and concepts he learned at Mississippi State were good preparation for the league. What will be different with the Cowboys? For starters, there's more expansive terminology.
And with the exception of goal-line plays, Prescott said he had never taken a live snap from under center until the Senior Bowl in January.
The Cowboys' staff coached the opposing North team and noticed Prescott didn't have much trouble with the adjustment, which has become increasingly common for draft prospects due to the popularity of spread offenses at the college level.
"I've seen some of those guys come in there and bobble those snaps, and you're just like, 'Man, that's going to take a while," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "He looked like he'd always been there. I think that says a lot about how hard he worked and has been working on something he doesn't do a lot, but also I think he's just a natural athlete who kind of gets how it works.
"You have a certain rhythm and timing from the shotgun, and it's not just the passing game. It's the run game, it's the ball handling, it's the playaction, all that stuff. Now you've got to do it where, I don't want to say you're turning your back on the defense but at times you are. But it's something some guys can do right away and some guys it seems like it's a little more of a transition."
Prescott indeed worked on his drops throughout the pre-draft process. The most important aspect, he said, is coordinating his footwork with the play called.
"I was taking a good bit (of reps). If you want to count them, I don't know," he said. "You've got to think about walking through the house doing those reps, too. I've taken a bunch."
He'll get plenty more work this offseason.
Rookie Minicamp Practice Plan
The Cowboys' first two days of rookie minicamp practice didn't include competitive sessions between the offense and defense. Instead, the rookies focused on individual drills with their new coaches following a morning walkthrough.
"It was more about getting them acclimated with our system of football, what we do and how we do it," head coach Jason Garrett said.
"If you remember the last couple years at training camp, the first couple days of camp, we haven't gone 11 on 11 against each other. It's really the same idea. We let these guys get their football feet and football legs underneath them. Movement without getting into competitive situations. We'll see how they respond to that."
There's logic to gradually acclimating rookies to the Cowboys' program. With the exception of all-star games such as the Senior Bowl, this weekend's minicamp is the players' first organized practice of any kind since their college careers ended.
For the last four months, they've trained on their own and worked out for pro scouts but haven't had the benefit of following a normal practice schedule. And, the late-spring heat in North Texas is an adjustment for some.
Garrett confirmed that Keith Smith, who has spent time on the active roster the last two seasons, will move from linebacker to fullback.
"We've seen him do some stuff on the offensive side of the ball in scout team type situations and he's demonstrated to us he can be an effective special teams player," Garrett said. "And we think that might give him a really good chance to make our football team.
"We'll see how it all works out as we go here through the offseason. If we get into it too much and he's not getting acclimated as smoothly as we thought he would, we might move him back to linebacker. But we think this is a good starting point for him."
Running back Rod Smith, who joined the team last year in midseason, will also get work at fullback. The Cowboys have not re-signed Tyler Clutts, the team's fullback for the better part of the last three seasons.
Take a look at a few images from minicamp on Saturday.