The Senior Bowl couldn’t have found a better face for its game than Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
With so much attention focused on quarterback Carson Wentz at last year’s game, it was Prescott who earned most valuable player honors in leading the South Team to a 27-16 victory over the North Team.
Prescott completed seven of 10 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. The highlight came when he led a 2-minute scoring drive at the end of the second half, directing the South on an 80-yard march capped with a 5-yard touchdown pass.
That proved to be a pivotal moment early in the draft process for Prescott, who wooed the Cowboys’ coaching staff during an hour meeting the day before with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson.
Prescott ended up landing with the Cowboys in the fourth round of last year’s draft and became a rookie sensation in leading the Cowboys on an 11-game winning streak and to the NFC East title.
Prescott took to his Twitter account, @dak, on Monday to offer advice to this year’s participants.
“Senior Bowl is this Week: DON’T TAKE A Meeting, Practice REP, or WalkingThrough the Lobby Lightly. You’re Being Evaluated,” Prescott wrote.
Here are five things to watch at this week’s Senior Bowl:
This year’s Dak?
The Cowboys lucked into finding their quarterback of the future, although they were always high on Prescott despite waiting until the fourth round to draft him. Prescott put himself on the map at this time last year, though, and the same might be said for other quarterbacks this year. Maybe former Texas Tech and Cal quarterback Davis Webb improves his stock with an impressive showing, or a guy emerges more prominently, such as Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman or Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs.
Every off-season seems to focus on the Cowboys’ need to improve the pass rush, and this year is no different. The Cowboys didn’t have a player record double-digit sacks, and finished with a combined 36 sacks on the season. That’s not terrible, but the pass rush was far too inconsistent. The Senior Bowl has plenty of pass rushers to keep an eye on, including TCU’s Josh Carraway, Kansas State’s Jordan Willis, Villanova’s Tanoh Kpassagnon, Ohio’s Tarell Basham, Youngstown State’s Derek Rivers and Texas A&M’s Daeshon Hall.
It’s no secret the Cowboys’ No. 1 goal should be to improve the defense. The pass rush could always use more help and the secondary could get depleted in a hurry via free agency. But there are skill players to keep an eye on this week who could gain the Cowboys’ interest. Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is an intriguing prospect who could become Jason Witten’s heir apparent, and a player such as LSU wide receiver Travin Dural could have mid-round appeal, with the Cowboys possibly moving on from Terrance Williams and Brice Butler.
Carraway is the most notable local player making his way to Mobile this week, and has a chance to improve his draft stock. But there are plenty of other Texas players to keep an eye on. Texas A&M has three players in safety Justin Evans, wide receiver Josh Reynolds and defensive end Hall. Baylor center Kyle Fuller is also playing in the game, as is Webb, who starred at Texas Tech from 2013 to 2015.
Jason Garrett called it a “dubious distinction” for the Cowboys to be coaching this weekend’s Pro Bowl, which is awarded to the staff of the highest seed that falls in the divisional round. A year ago, Garrett and his staff were on the other end and worked the Senior Bowl. But that ended up being a positive experience, although the Cowboys aren’t expected to send any coaches to Alabama this week. Said Garrett, “Last year was a good experience for us because we actually coached in the Senior Bowl. This year, we won’t do that, but we will have a number of our scouts there, a number of our personnel people down there watching the players, interviewing the players and evaluating them.”