Draft Daily: Dak Prescott, A Mid-Round QB Option
Between now and the draft, we’ll zero in on one prospect a day with an Eagles slant. We’ve already covered Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Vernon Hargreaves, Paxton Lynch, Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Ronnie Stanley, DeForest Buckner, Laquon Treadwell and Myles Jack. If you have a player you think should be covered, shoot us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE BACK STORY
Dak Prescott was on the rise. The Mississippi State quarterback led the Bulldogs to a 9-0 start with three wins over top-10 teams, propelling the team to the top of the rankings and Prescott to the top of the Heisman leaderboard.
While Mississippi State lost three out of their last four games in 2014 and Prescott didn’t get invited to the Heisman ceremony, he finished higher in the Heisman voting than any player in school history by taking eighth. He also broke a dozen single-season program records that year, and he was a first-team All-SEC selection while becoming the first finalist in school history for the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Johnny Unitas Awards.
While Prescott’s skills from the pocket improved from his junior to senior season, Mississippi State lost four games and his stock leveled off. Still, the dual threat quarterback continued to etch his name into the record brooks, as he became just the fourth player in Division I history to throw for 70 touchdowns and add 40 on the ground. He’s also the most decorated player in Mississippi State history, breaking 38 school records.
However, red flags were raised last month when, less than 48 hours after the Mississippi State Pro Day, he was arrested on a DUI charge. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein noted that the incident could impact his draft stock.
“If there is nothing else (negative in his background), I think every team is going to go off their own personal interviews with him and what their scouts have gathered on his character,” Zierlein said. “That should reign supreme over one incident. But it certainly doesn’t help.”
Prescott is reportedly in Philadelphia today to visit the Eagles, and with virtually all of the top dogs in the organization publicly saying they will draft a quarterback, the Bulldog seems like a potential pick in the middle rounds.
Prescott finished in the top five among quarterbacks in both the broad jump and vertical jump at the NFL Combine.
While he’s not going to kill NFL defenses with his speed or quickness and you won’t draw up many runs for him at the next level, he has the size and ability to be a threat on the ground in short-yardage situations.
One thing that was quickly evident on film was the Dan Mullen connection. Prescott’s head coach at Mississippi State was Tim Tebow’s offensive coordinator at Florida, and he ran those QB draws that Tebow had a lot of success with.
Prescott won’t be running wild on NFL defenses, but it’s an attribute a good play-caller could take advantage of from time to time. Here’s Prescott’s 38-yard-run against Kentucky.
One thing I was a bit surprised to see was how much Prescott kept his eyes up when scrambling to see what he had down field, rather than just tucking the ball and running it. You’ll often see mobile college quarterbacks commit to scrambling if they get outside of the pocket, but Prescott didn’t jump at the first sign of daylight.
Here’s his 74-yard touchdown pass against LSU.
It’s understandable because Prescott took a lot of shots and he didn’t have great pass protection, but he seemed to try to get out of the pocket before he needed to in the games I watched. He did, however, make some good throws on the move.
In general, Prescott won’t wow you with his arm strength, but he has enough to make all of the throws. He’s capable of connecting on deep balls, like this 54-yard pass against Alabama.
I also liked the touch he showed, as he did on this 55-yard touchdown pass against North Carolina State in the Belk Bowl.
However, I think there are several legitimate criticisms about his game. One big thing I didn’t see much of was Prescott throwing guys open, and I’m dubious about his anticipation skills. I also think his accuracy on longer throws is questionable, and I wonder how many interceptions he’ll throw because he sails the ball.
When he addressed the media at the NFL Combine, Prescott explained what he thinks he needs to improve on.
“I think I have to show people I can make all the drops from under center, something I haven’t been asked to do in high school or college,” Prescott said. “But I’ve been working really hard on doing it. My first live reps were at the Senior Bowl from under center, so just to show I can do that, I can get better. I’m athletic enough to do it so I don’t think it’s a hard transition. I just need to work at it and get comfortable at it.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
I can see why people will be tempted to take Prescott in the third round. He has the traits needed to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and if the DUI arrest is an isolated incident, there doesn’t seem to be much cause for concern for him off of the field.
However, I wouldn’t take him until Day 3. I’d prefer to wait until the fifth round if I had to use my draft pick on him, but I wouldn’t be up in arms if the Eagles select him in the fourth round because of the improvement he showed in college.