With training camp weeks away, it’s a good time to start breaking down the Dallas Cowboys roster position by position to see what this 2021 bunch will look like and which players are competing to make the team. Dallas had a lot of injuries a year ago, forcing a number of young players and reserves to step into more prominent roles. They also drafted 11 players, meaning there will be a ton of competition for the final roster.
In addition, America’s Team will be doing this in front of the entire world, since they were chosen as the featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks. With that being said, let’s take a look at the quarterbacks vying to join Dak Prescott on the 53-man Dallas Cowboys roster this year.
Dallas Cowboys Roster Breakdown: Quarterbacks
The Locks | Dallas Cowboys Roster
It’s certainly a relief to be putting Dak Prescott in this category. The past 18-24 months have been very stressful for the Dallas Faithful, thanks to contract negotiations that drug out following the 2019 season.
One franchise tag, a broken ankle and tons of speculation later, Prescott is locked up for the next four years after agreeing to a $160M contract. It’s a fitting contract for a deserving recipient whose absences was felt in more ways than one a year ago.
Prior to the season-ending injury, Prescott was leading the league in passing by a substantial margin, even without Tyron Smith and La’el Collins. Assuming he and the others on this offense stay healthy, this unit has every chance to be one of the most dangerous in all of football.
Prescott has improved every year he’s worked with Kellen Moore, and he’s got one of the top pass-catching regimes in the NFL. With him back, Dallas is certainly in good shape at the quarterback position.
Dallas Cowboys Roster Breakdown
Fighting for a Job | Dallas Cowboys Roster
Garrett Gilbert, Ben DiNucci, Cooper Rush
There are several question marks that need to be sorted out during training camp. For starters, how many quarterbacks do the Cowboys plan to keep behind their starter? One or Two?
Secondly, are they comfortable with any of the three being the primary backup to Prescott? The trio has played in a combined 15 games, with Gilbert and Rush each getting a start apiece a year ago that are the only starts in the bunch.
That’s a lot of inexperience at the most important reserve position on the roster. The Cowboys brought in several veteran options following the draft, but nothing came of those workouts.
So, for the time being, it appears they are set on heading to camp, intent on letting these three show what they’ve got. Still, I’m betting on Gilbert and DiNucci being the two to see the most action.
While Rush has played with or for Moore ever since coming into the league in 2017, the fact that he wasn’t given a chance last year when Prescott and Andy Dalton went down should be a bit telling of the pecking order. I’m not saying he has no chance, but I expect the other to get more opportunities.
As for Gilbert and DiNucci, their starts a year ago weren’t overly impressive. While DiNucci struggled to find any rhythm, Gilbert was at least able to make a few plays to keep Dallas in the game against Pittsburgh.
Neither threw the ball particularly well, but I’m not sure we should have expected anything else. Gilbert had six NFL career pass attempts before that start, and DiNucci was a rookie seventh-rounder that got no chance to see live-action in the preseason.
I’m not sure how much our expectations should change for either heading into the preseason. It would be great to have a proven passer that inspires confidence from the coaching staff, but the Cowboys would settle for someone with a solid grasp of the playbook.
If neither can prove that during training camp, we may see Brett Hundley, who played for Mike McCarthy in Green Bay. I’d thought Dallas might consider Alex Smith before his retirement, and Robert Griffin is another veteran that could be an option.
Practice Squad Options | Dallas Cowboys Roster
If the Cowboys choose to bring in a veteran backup, DiNucci, Gilbert or Rush could be kept on the practice squad. The NFL extended the practice squad rules from a year ago to 2021, meaning there are two spots on the 16-man roster that have no experience limitations.
That means Dallas could keep a third quarterback with the organization. And with the ability to bump two practice squad players up to the game-day roster, the Cowboys would have the opportunity to dress three quarterbacks.
If so, I’d peg DiNucci as the one they’d hope to get back on the practice squad. He’s young and got some untapped potential that could be reached in time as he gets more comfortable in the offense.