That career year from Dak Prescott? It was no flash in the pan.
And before you ask: Yes, more than Patrick Mahomes.
Whether Dak Prescott signs an extension or plays on the franchise tag, he’s going to light up defenses on the field in 2020.
In 2019, Prescott finished second in passing yards behind Jameis Winston with 4,902. This offseason, the Cowboys added another weapon to their second-ranked passing attack, selecting wide receiver CeeDee Lamb with the No. 17 overall pick.
Lamb can make plays on short, intermediate and deep throws. He averaged 19.0 yards per catch as a collegian at Oklahoma. The 6’2″, 198-pounder also forced a missed tackle on 42 percent of his receptions, per Pro Football Focus.
Prescott will have Lamb, four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup—who racked up 1,107 yards in 2019—in three-wide receiver sets. ESPN’s Todd Archer suggested running back Tony Pollard also could see more action in the passing game.
With Elliott and Pollard both potentially active in the passing game, Prescott could rack up 5,000-plus yards through the air.
Prescott’s Projected Total: 5,070 passing yards
Runner-up: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (4,871)
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A Plausible Prediction
To be fair, it’s tough for any QB to duplicate the numbers that Prescott compiled last season, when he came within one yard of tying the single-season franchise passing record held by Tony Romo. The fourth-year pro also set career highs in attempts (596), yards-per-pass (8.2) and completions of 20-plus yards (68).
But the arrow is pointing up for Prescott, 26, whose best days should be ahead.
According to a metric by Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys’ franchise QB ranked as the fifth-best passer against playoff teams in 2019, finishing with a cumulative grade of 77.4.
Only Houston’s Deshaun Watson (84.5), Seattle’s Russell Wilson (81.0), Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill (80.8), and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (79.6) graded out better than Prescott, who, too, has the fourth-highest rushing grade (73.7) in goal-to-go situations since 2015.
Highest rushing grades in goal to go situations since 2015:
1. Aaron Jones – 82.5
2. Marlon Mack – 76.5
3. Marshawn Lynch – 75.6
4. Dak Prescott – 73.7 pic.twitter.com/nDmU8VZFM4
— PFF (@PFF) June 28, 2020
While Dak’s detractors point to his win-loss record and Dallas’ recent playoff history (or lack thereof), PFF countered with a wild statistic: Prescott is one of just two QBs since 2018 to throw at least 20 touchdown passes outside the red zone.
The other? Reigning Super Bowl MVP Mahomes.
Against the Grain
Interestingly, this flies in the face of a previous Bleacher Report projection in which Prescott’s 2020 numbers are: 375-of-576 for 4,707 yards, 27 TDs, 9 INTs while adding 64 carries for 328 rushing yards and four scores.
It seems prognosticators are all over the board when it comes to Prescott. Vegas oddsmakers threw their collective hat into the figurative ring by giving the two-time Pro Bowler the fourth-best odds to win NFL MVP.
If he stays healthy — with Cooper, Gallup, Elliott, Pollard, Lamb and Blake Jarwin at his disposal — regardless of contract status, it’ll be almost impossible to not at least replicate last year’s success.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL