There has been plenty of chatter about the Dallas Cowboys signing Dak Prescott to a long-term contract extension, but so far there is no ink being put to paper. In the meantime, the Cowboys are getting one step closer to drafting a quarterback for the first time since selecting Ben DiNucci in the 2020 NFL Draft. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Cowboys hosted former Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell for a private workout labeling the signal caller as a “Shrine Bowl standout.”
“Purdue QB Aidan O’Connell has a private workout today with the Cowboys, per source,” Pelissero tweeted on March 28, 2023. “O’Connell also has private visits and workouts set up with the Jets, Raiders, Saints, Bengals, Colts and Bears, and has Zoomed with 10 other teams. Busy month for the Shrine Bowl standout.”
O’Connell would likely be in the range of a day-three selection for the Cowboys who the franchise could develop as more of a long-term player. Pro Football Focus’ Marcus Mosher had Dallas selecting O’Connell in the fifth round in his latest mock draft.
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Wants to See Dak Prescott Stay on the Field More
Parsing Jerry Jones and Cowboys brass is challenging because the team has a history of praising players before eventually moving on from the individual. Ezekiel Elliott is just the latest example as Jones was gushing about the running back as recently as the Senior Bowl before releasing the star less than two months later.
Dallas has spent the offseason doubling down on their commitment to Prescott being the team’s long-term solution at quarterback. While the Cowboys have teased a possible extension for Prescott, there has been no indication that anything is close to happening. During a media session at the owner’s meetings, Jones shot down the notion that the team is talking with Prescott about an extension and admitted he wants to see the quarterback avoid injuries. Delaying extension talks for another offseason would also give the Cowboys one more year to evaluate Prescott and see if the former Pro Bowler will bounce back from a career-high 17 interceptions.
“If you look at the last three years, he needs to be more available,” Jones told The Athletic’s Jon Machota during a March 27 interview. “Everything we’re doing, and I feel good about this offensive line, should make him more available. And then we’re doing some things in the line, some technique and some philosophy there that will really help Dak out. I’d say to our fans, these adjustments that we’re making in our offense … you add it all up and you are going to see Dak at his very best.”
Will the Cowboys Select a Quarterback on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft?
As for the team’s interest in O’Connell, selecting the former Boilermakers quarterback would do little to put Prescott on notice. The star quarterback still has two seasons remaining on his current $160 million deal. The Cowboys are sure to be linked to more quarterbacks as the draft gets closer given their desire to add a rookie signal-caller.
If Dallas selects a quarterback like Hendon Hooker in the second round, this type of scenario would indeed crank up the pressure on Prescott heading into next season. O’Connell threw for 3,490 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while completing 64.1% of his passes in 2022. At 6’3″ and 213 pounds, O’Connell represents a traditional quarterback but is not a threat with his legs.
“O’Connell’s 2021 tape is better than what we saw from him in 2022, but there were still flashes last season,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his pre-draft profile of O’Connell. “He’s a pocket passer who can throw with solid accuracy over the first two levels but struggles with trajectory and rhythm on deep targets. O’Connell has below-average mobility inside and outside the pocket.
“He needs to keep his progressions on schedule and his throws on time to make up for average arm strength. He had to carry a heavy percentage of the offense on his back at Purdue and could benefit from an offense that allows him to manage games. O’Connell has backup potential and his upside is slightly above average.”