The Dallas Cowboys’ Future Without Dak Prescott: Potential Quarterback Options for the 2024 NFL Draft

The Dallas Cowboys may be preparing for a future without Dak Prescott as their quarterback, which is an intriguing new storyline heading into the 2024 NFL draft.

While on NFL Live, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Cowboys haven’t had any notable discussions about an extension for the 30-year-old (7:22 mark), who’s entering the final year of his contract.

Because of the uncertainty around Prescott’s short-term standing in Dallas, Schefter believes the Cowboys are a “sleeper team” to draft a quarterback in April.

If they don’t sign the three-time Pro Bowler to a new deal before March 12, he would count for at least $40.4 million against the club’s salary cap as a free agent next year, per ESPN’s Todd Archer.

In order to get ahead of that possible divorce, Dallas could take a signal-caller to develop through 2024 with the idea that he may start in 2025.

With that plan in mind, which quarterbacks should Dallas target in two weeks?

Let’s discuss five possible options and why they’re fits for the Cowboys.

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The Cowboys went conservative in free agency and left some glaring needs to address for the draft, particularly along the offensive line and at running back.

Assuming they target top prospects to fortify their offensive line, they should start to look at quarterbacks on Day 2.

With picks 56 and 87, Dallas could consider Bo Nixwho hasn’t generated much first-round buzz.

Remember, ESPN’s Adam Schefter said the Cowboys may draft a quarterback “higher than you think…”

As a second- or third-rounder, Nix would be a high-floor prospect to back up Prescott.

The 24-year-old has five years of collegiate starting experience between Auburn and Oregon, so he may not need extensive time to develop before taking over an NFL offense.

Over his last two collegiate seasons at Oregon, Nix completed nearly 75 percent of his passes in a West Coast-style offense predicated on defined reads and quick decisions from the pocket.

Coming from that system, his strengths would translate well under head coach Mike McCarthy, who typically runs a West Coast scheme. Like Prescott, though, McCarthy is entering the final year of his contract.

Assuming the Cowboys select an offensive lineman early in the draft, Nix could have strong pass protection once he’s ready to lead the offense.

He would also play with CeeDee Lamb, who led the league in yards after the catch last season, and speedy veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks. So, he may not have to do a lot of heavy lifting with deep throws for explosive plays.

As of today, Dallas has the perimeter playmakers and appropriate system to help Nix succeed if he’s the eventual replacement for Prescott.

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Depending on whom you ask, Michael Penix Jr. will hear his name called anywhere between the middle of the first round and midway through Day 2 of the draft.

From the Cowboys’ perspective, the 23-year-old should be a second-to-third-round target. He had a stout offensive line at Washington, with tackles Troy Fautanu and Roger Rosengarten also headed to the pros as potential early-round picks.

Because of Penix’s injury history—two right ACL tears and a couple of notable shoulder issues—the Cowboys would have to prioritize their needs along the offensive line if they select him.

He has the deep-ball accuracy to maximize Brandin Cooks’ downfield speed and CeeDee Lamb’s ball-tracking skills, though the Cowboys shouldn’t put the burden of carrying the offense on his arm.

Penix needs to adjust his one-speed fastball throwing tendencies from the pocket to help himself with easier underneath completions in the short-to-intermediate passing game.

Nonetheless, like Nix, Penix has extensive collegiate starting experience that should help ease his transition to the pro level within a year.

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The Cowboys may not feel the urge to draft a quarterback within the first two rounds, and Nix and Penix may not be available in the third round.

Dallas could add a tackle or guard and a center with its first two picks and then find Prescott’s potential successor in the third or fourth round. Keep in mind that the team doesn’t have a fourth-round pickthough it can move up via trade.

On the pro level, Michael Pratt can thrive with efficiency, though he’s not going to wow you with a ton of highlight-reel plays.

The 22-year-old makes up for his lack of arm strength with great touch in ball placement. In most cases, he throws a catchable ball, giving his pass-catchers a chance to make plays after receptions.

Like Prescott, more so early in his career, Pratt shows the willingness to finish drives as a ball-carrier. In four seasons at Tulane, he scored 28 rushing touchdowns. In short-yardage situations, you can classify him as a finisher rather than a runner.

Pratt won’t throw many 30- or 40-yard rockets downfield, but his accuracy means the Cowboys could get creative with their pass-catchers in space.

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As we continue the theme of targeting potential third- and fourth-round targets, Spencer Rattler fits into that category. He’s had some ups and downs in a mixed-bag collegiate experience.

He committed to Oklahoma as a five-star recruit out of Arizona and then transferred to South Carolina where he started over the previous two years.

Though Rattler lost his starting job to Caleb Williams while playing with Sooners in 2021, he rebounded with the Gamecocks as a team captain, throwing for 37 touchdowns and 20 interceptions over the last two seasons.

Through the 23-year-old’s fall in Oklahoma and rise in South Carolina, Bleacher Report scout Derrick Classes sees the high-upside potential in him:

“It’s difficult to watch Spencer Rattler and not see the young player who was once projected to be a top-10 draft pick. The arm talent, aggression and pocket toughness of a big-time NFL quarterback are all there. Rattler’s raw throwing ability is closer to Drake Maye and Caleb Williams than it is to the other prospects.”

Rattler doesn’t have the prototypical size of a pro quarterback (6’0″, 211 pounds), and his athletic profile is underwhelming (h/t Pro Football Network’s Kent Lee Platte), but he’s functionally mobile and has made notable strides since flaming out in Oklahoma.

With a year of development in a pro setting, Rattler can be a game manager who grows into an efficient NFL passer, with star receiver CeeDee Lamb and budding Pro Bowl tight end Jake Ferguson there to elevate him in his early years.

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If Dallas drafts Jordan TravisPrescott wouldn’t feel the immediate pressure of his job on the line because the Florida State product is recovering from a fractured leg.

Five months removed from a significant leg injury, Travis has to scale some hurdles before he’s a legitimate candidate to earn an NFL starting job.

That being said, the 23-year-old looked like one of the best dual-threat signal-callers in the country over the past two years, throwing for 5,970 yards, 44 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while rushing for 593 yards and 14 touchdowns in that stretch.

As a smaller quarterback (6’1″, 200 pounds) with multiple injuries and some fumble issues in his collegiate career, Travis will need to improve as a passer and rely much less on his improvisation outside the pocket.

Nonetheless, he only fumbled twice before he suffered an injury in his final collegiate campaign.

If the Cowboys can harness Travis’ athleticism without limiting his upside as a playmaker, he could become a dynamic signal-caller with the team’s supporting cast.

College football statistics are provided by

Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.

2024-04-13 11:20:05
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