In non-earth-shattering news, Bleacher Report doesn’t envision a scenario in which the Dallas Cowboys are quarterbacked by Ben DiNucci on Sept. 13.
“Even if the Cowboys suddenly lose their patience and trade or release Dak Prescott, they’d turn things over to Andy Dalton,” columnist Brad Gagnon wrote.
Drafted in the seventh round (No. 231 overall) — the Cowboys’ final choice of the annual offseason spectacle — DiNucci began his collegiate career with the Pitt Panthers, throwing for 1,107 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions on 91-of-167 passing (54.5 percent) across 11 games from 2015-17.
He transferred to JMU in 2018 and saw his numbers improve as his years wore on. DiNucci finished with 5,716 yards, 46 TDs, and 18 INTs over 29 appearances. He saved his best for last, completing 70-percent of his attempts in 2019 for 3,441 yards, 29 scores, and only six picks, earning AFCA First Team All-American honors.
Although accurate and capable of using his legs, DiNucci’s physical limitations cap his upside as a No. 3 QB at the professional level. Such is the reason he nearly went undrafted and probably would have if Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy’s brother wasn’t DiNucci’s eighth-grade basketball coach.
Nevertheless, McCarthy liked what he saw on tape, enough to draft the 23-year-old. And enough to draw a wholly idealistic comparison.
“He’s very accurate,” McCarthy in his post-draft conference call, via The Athletic. “He reminds me of a young Marc Bulger.”
An idealistic comparison dwarfed by Cowboys VP Stephen Jones’ likening to a franchise legend.
“(McCarthy) said he’s a baller. He’s very athletic. Certainly no one is saying he is, but if you remember, Tony Romo was a college free agent,” Jones said last month, per The Athletic. “(Ben) has some of those type of tools, instinctive and seems to make plays.”
DiNucci and Romo, who played collegiately at Eastern Illinois, both hail from small, non-descript programs. They both stand 6-foot-2. They’re both heady players. They both can say they’ve donned the star.
That’s where any similarities end.
The Cowboys currently have no plans to trade franchise-tagged starter Dak Prescott, and certainly won’t release him outright. The club signed former Bengals starter Andy Dalton to a $7 million deal precisely for this reason, the glass to break in case of emergency.
DiNucci is destined for the practice squad in his first NFL season, as Dallas traditionally carries just two QBs on the final 53-man roster.
The Cowboys will open the 2020 regular season in primetime against the Rams, with the matchup taking place at Los Angeles’ brand-new SoFi Stadium.
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Dak Working Out ‘Often’ with Ex-Cowboys Coach
Absent the virtual offseason program, Prescott has retained the services of a coach no longer on the Cowboys‘ payroll.
Respected wide receivers instructor David Robinson — who’s trained the likes of Prescott, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, and former Cowboys star Dez Bryant in recent coronavirus-impacted weeks — revealed that Dak is working out “a lot” independently with ex-Cowboys quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna.
“[Prescott and Elliott] look in great shape, actually,” Robinson said on the Girls Talkin ‘Boys podcast. “I know that they’re working out. Dak, he has his own … he’s still working out with Jon Kitna, I believe who used to be the Cowboys’ QB coach. Him and Kitna, they work out a lot together, often throughout the week. He looks in great shape. Him and Zeke.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL