Star Evaluation: How Dak Gets to Elite Status

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Since the start of free agency, the Cowboys have had their share of players already come and go.

However, the majority of the 2019 roster is already in place. In the coming weeks, the staff of DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they’ve been and where they’re going.

Today, we’ll end the series with quarterback Dak Prescott.

What’s Been Good: Two Pro Bowl appearances, 32 victories and two playoff berths in three years. Few quarterbacks in recent memory have had that much starting experience, and that much success, in their first three NFL seasons. In 2018, Prescott became the first quarterback in league history with at least 20 passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. He also set a league record for most game-winning drives during that span (14). More importantly, as a team captain he kept spirits high in the locker room despite a 3-5 start. Amari Cooper’s midseason arrival stabilized the wide receiver rotation, and Prescott’s numbers took off. In the final nine games, he increased his TD passes from eight to 22. He also had six games in that span with a QB rating over 100.

What’s Been Bad: Scoring points didn’t come easy, especially early in the year before the Amari Cooper trade. While Dak had some great moments this past season, there were still seven games in which the team failed to score 20 points, including a late-season shutout to the Colts. Establishing a consistent passing game was at times a struggle for the Cowboys, especially when teams found a way to slow down Zeke and the running game.

2018 Highlight: His best game might’ve been the one that didn’t really count so much in the standings. Everyone called the 2018 season finale meaningless because the Cowboys had already wrapped up the NFC East title and No. 4 seed. But with other players resting because of injuries, Dak Prescott not only played the entire game, but had his best outing of the season. He threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns with a 120.2 QB rating. His game-winning TD pass to Cole Beasley in the final minutes could be considered his best throw of his career.

What’s Next: Like some of the other key players on this roster, a new contract is expected at some point. Dak still has one more year left on his deal but it’s likely the Cowboys will figure out a way to lock up their quarterback sooner than later. Contract aside, the Cowboys have surrounded Dak with some weapons at receiver in Cooper and now Randall Cobb. If the O-line gets back to form with the return of Travis Frederick and Jason Witten provides some help in the red zone, Dak could be looking at an even better year in 2019.

Dak Prescott has now made the Pro Bowl two of his first three years. He already has 32 wins, plus a playoff victory. But what does it take for Dak to become an elite NFL QB?

Bryan’s Bottom Line: Every time I watch Dak Prescott play it reminds me how fortunate this organization was to have found him. I lived through three seasons as a scout here where we would have given anything to have a quarterback of his ability. Countless days of miss evaluations and blind hope led to three of the worse years of my professional life. For an organization that has had such a great history of quarterback play, the Football Gods would not give us one guy like Prescott to pull us out of the ditch. As a fan you should view Dak Prescott as a gift. Too many times we focus on how pleasing a quarterback has to look in our eye instead of focusing on that bottom line - - winning. Sure Prescott has his faults and some of them are critical but let’s not forget that he’s critical to your success. I see the switch from Scott Linehan to Kellen Moore to being a good one for Prescott. Moore was there for Prescott from day one and he will do a great job for him as he continues to develop on the mental side of the game. It’s not that Prescott will need to be pushed because he is self-motivated but Moore has something to prove and having some success with his quarterback can go a long way in helping his coaching career. I will leave you with this thought about Dak Prescott. It’s hard to find a quarterback in this league especially one that consistently wins games. We all need to remember that the next time we want to be critical of this one.

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