A league that values prototypical size and textbook form couldn’t see Dak Prescott coming a mile away. The former Mississippi State quarterback showed the same leadership and efficiency in college as he showed in his rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys, but he was never viewed worthy of an early-round draft pick.
Plenty of NFL teams are still kicking themselves for passing on a chance to draft the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. If there was any inclination Prescott would have been the quarterback he became last season, he might have come off the board at the top of the first round.
It certainly wouldn’t have taken as long as the fourth round, at No. 135, for his name to get called.
However, looking back makes one wonder what scouts were seeing when evaluating Prescott as an NFL quarterback. In his final two seasons at Mississippi State, he threw for a combined 7,242 yards, 56 touchdowns and only 16 interceptions.
The misevaluation of Prescott can’t be stat-based. He had better numbers than Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch, Christian Hackenberg, Jacoby Brissett and Connor Cook, who were all drafted ahead of him. He was also putting up gaudy numbers at an SEC school, where he was forced to play powerhouse schools such as Alabama.
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen has struggled with the same question. Why did so many teams pass on Prescott?
“Why did they miss on him in the draft? I have no idea… I think when you get to the NFL, everybody is looking for something different and you might not be looking for a quarterback, or someone of his style,” Mullen said, according to NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread, who was covering Mississippi State at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. “That’s very unique, where you might slot a quarterback in [the] draft or what they’re looking to get out of that quarterback position. It’s hard to say teams missed on him because you don’t know what their strategy going into that draft was.”
An NFL.com scout who projected Prescott as a third-round pick compared the young quarterback to the Green Bay Packers’ Brett Hundley, the 2015 fifth-round pick out of UCLA. What a compliment to Hundley to compare him with a quarterback who led his team into the playoffs with a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Some traits are clearly immeasurable when scouting for NFL talent. Few veteran quarterbacks, let alone rookies, are capable of taking over the Cowboys, with all of the drama surrounding Tony Romo, and forging the franchise’s best season in the last 10 years.
Few human beings are built for that kind of pressure, and no one could see Prescott was one of them.
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