With the 135th pick of the 2016 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys selected Dak Prescott, quarterback from Mississippi State University. He was placed third on the depth chart, behind lefty Kellen Moore and established starter Tony Romo. However, as injuries knocked both Moore and Romo out for extended periods of time, Prescott was forced into action. He excelled under pressure, leading the Cowboys to an impressive 13-3 record while also bringing home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Many believe this outstanding rookie year was a fluke, and that Prescott will have the infamous “sophomore slump”. I respectfully disagree. I believe that Prescott will continue to grow and develop into one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
The biggest strength of the Dallas Cowboys has undoubtedly been their dominant offensive line. Most consider this unit to be the best in football, and I tend to agree. During the 2016 NFL regular season, the Cowboys rushed for a team total of 2,396 yards. They also averaged 149.8 rushing yards per game, which was second only to the Buffalo Bills. With an average of 4.8 yards per carry as a team, and with fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott averaging 5.1 yards per carry last season, Prescott has a dominant running game to support him. While the Cowboys will be without Elliott to start the season, McFadden can hold his own as the starter. Through 3 games this preseason as the starter, McFadden has averaged 5.8 yards per carry and has impressed the coaching staff.
While the Cowboys have a dominant ground attack, don’t think all Dak did was hand off and check down. His 67.8% completion percentage was 4th among starting QB’s in 2016, and his 81.7 QB rating was third among starters. He also threw 23 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions. As a rookie, the Cowboys were careful to keep Prescott’s throws in the short-intermediate range. While most of Prescott’s throws were under 20 yards, he ranked among the top deep passers in the league when allowed to stretch the field. To point, 39.5% of Prescott’s 20+ yard passes were into tight windows and he completed 29.4% of these throws (9th among starting QB’s) while never recording an interception. Needless to say, these numbers are very impressive for a rookie QB. The Dallas Offensive Line also helped him prosper as a passer, allowing Dak to be sacked just 25 times all season. This ranked 3rd in the NFL, behind only Kirk Cousins and the Redskins (23) and Eli Manning and the Giants (21).
With almost all of the powerhouse offense in Dallas returning for the 2017 NFL season, Prescott will no doubt strengthen the already prevalent chemistry between himself and the rest of the unit. Expect Prescott to not only duplicate his impressive rookie season, but improve as a player and silence the critics once again.
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