The top of the Dallas Cowboys QB depth chart is set in stone. Dak Prescott plays quarterback for the Cowboys, so any idea of having an objective conversation about his abilities or inabilities quickly goes out the window when discourse starts. The fact remains that he is and will be the Cowboys starting QB for the foreseeable future.
The new (old) rule implemented makes it so a third QB can dress on gameday without counting toward the 53-man roster. That means it will not just be Prescott and another on gameday. But unlike other teams with four or five passers currently on the roster, the Cowboys only roster three.
Can Will “Trill” Grier turn some of that West Virginia passing magic into consistent QB play? Could he provide a bit more juice than Cooper Rush, who went 4-1 in relief of Prescott with some incredible defensive performances in that stretch?
Dallas Cowboys QB Depth Chart
QB1: Dak Prescott
QB2: Cooper Rush
QB3: Will Grier
Prescott’s NFL-leading 15 INTs gave naysayers a ton of ammunition to work with during the season and especially throughout this offseason.
But the addition of Brandin Cooks and the improved confidence of Michael Gallup should go a long way in allowing Prescott to throw to windows that simply weren’t there with a slower Cowboys receiving corps.
The Cowboys QB loves to attack middle-of-field windows, and he’s made a very comfortable living doing so. But what made the Dolphins’ offense so efficient over the middle (the threat of speed vertically) made the Cowboys passing attack dangerous for the QB in 2022.
The lack of a vertical threat kept safeties flat-footed. But Tua had a second benefit. The use of play-action pulled linebackers forward as well. It was a “double whammy.” Tua had some form of it on over 43% of dropbacks compared to 26% for Prescott. And while not all offenses need a heavy dose of play action to be successful, offenses looking to exploit middle-of-field soft spots do.
Prescott hadn’t posted a season with higher than an INT rate of 1.8% from 2018-2021. Although he’s prone to risk-taking over the middle, the turnovers were an anomaly last season. And Jerry Jones believes Prescott can continue to make improvements as a veteran.
“I’ve really felt for quite a while that Dak has the ability, and I don’t want to dare do this to Dak or me or anybody, but I think just as [Tom] Brady became, in my mind, better and better and more impactful as [the Patriots] won as he got into his career — I think Dak really has those qualities. I think he can get better,” Jones said.
While comparing anybody to Tom Brady is insane, the way that Prescott could improve his game would be similar to how Brady did as a pocket passer.
Can Will Grier Snatch the QB2 Role From Cooper Rush?
Cowboys fans should hope they don’t have to find out. Any usurping will have to happen in the regular season because, for now, Rush has earned the right to the spot. The Cowboys’ offense was a shell of itself without Prescott a season ago. Still, Rush did a good job of taking care of the football, allowing a Cowboys defense that was on an absolute tear to keep the Cowboys afloat without their $40 million man.
But in the five weeks Rush (-7.1%) was on the field, only Baker Mayfield (-12.9%) posted a worse CPOE over that same period of time.
If Rush plays the same way should he be forced on the field in 2023, and the defense isn’t looking like one of the best in the NFL, the team could quickly decide that Grier is a better option, at least as a Hail Mary to survive for a few weeks without Prescott.
Grier started two games for the Carolina Panthers in 2019, and it went about how one would expect a third-round rookie coming from West Virginia’s offense would. Maybe now the Mountaineers QB has learned how a professional passer must operate an NFL offense. Grier says he’s learned a lot from Prescott and Rush.
“In my time here, I’ve learned a lot and developed a lot,” Grier said. “I’m just fighting to be the best version of me that I can be and to be ready for an opportunity. We saw 65 guys play last year, and you never know when you become one of those guys, so I’m just gonna be ready for anything if I get an opportunity.”
The new rule also makes it more difficult to poach players from other teams because of the third-QB stache. The Cowboys should look to address the position at some point in the 2024 NFL Draft. The new rule could lead to more quarterbacks being drafted in general.