There were seven quarterbacks selected ahead of Prescott in the 2016 NFL Draft.
But Lynch, a former Memphis star, was the one Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones immediately regretted missing out on the most. Jones, who was beaten by the Broncos in a trade up in the first round with the Seattle Seahawks, said the night after the draft that he should have given the Seahawks what they wanted.
“When I look back on my life, I overpaid for my big successes every time,” Jones said at the time. “And when I tried to get a bargain, get it a little cheaper or get a better deal on it, I ended up usually either getting it and not happy I got it. Or missing it.
“And I probably should have overpaid here.”
The Cowboys then tried to draft former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook in the fourth round, but he was taken by the Oakland Raiders.
The Cowboys even picked defensive end Charles Tapper before drafting Prescott, whom Jones labeled as a developmental prospect for the future, in the fourth round.
Prescott has been an immediate star, winning offensive rookie of the year honors last season, and throwing 23 touchdowns with only four interceptions while leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record.
Lynch, who has played in only three games, was beaten out for the starting job by Trevor Siemian twice, as a rookie in 2016 and in training camp this season.
Lynch has a shoulder injury and could miss the first five games of the season.
When the two 1-0 teams meet Sunday in Denver, it’s hard not to think about where the Cowboys might be if they had gotten their wish and landed Lynch over Prescott.
“Yeah, that’s a long conversation,” coach Jason Garrett said. “I don’t really want to get into that now. I do know this: when you’re in a draft, there’s a lot of conversations about a lot of players, at every position, with every pick — moving up, moving back, and all of that. So, we’re obviously happy with the quarterback that we have.”
Prescott — who has said that falling to the fourth round and seeing all those quarterbacks go in front him has fueled his fire —is happy to be in Dallas.
“Everything happens for a reason,” said the former Mississippi State star, when asked about Jones’ draft-day regrets. “I’m in a good spot.”
If the Cowboys had taken Lynch, there is little chance that Prescott would have landed with the quarterback-needy Broncos.
Prescott sheepishly admitted he didn’t make a good first impression on the Broncos because he missed his flight before a pre-draft visit to Denver.
“I didn’t make it to the gate,” Prescott said. “The door shut and I had to wait. I got there later that night, but missed the initial dinner. I still had the visit, but I’m sure the quarterback not making the flight doesn’t go over too well. When I got on the flight, I knew that was probably over with.”
Again, everything happens for a reason.
The Cowboys salivated over Lynch with multiple workouts, including one in Orlando, Fla., in which the coaching staff, the scouts and the front office flew en masse from an owners meeting.
“We did it in Orlando at the Wide World of Sports down there,” Garrett said. “It was a good workout. He probably had 90, 100 throws, moved around well. And again, he’s a very physically imposing guy (6-foot-7) with a very powerful arm and a very good athlete for his size. He was impressive.
“We spent some time with him, interviewing him and there was just a lot to like. The potential is overwhelming. I mean he’s got a lot of ability. He’s got great size and athletic ability and arm talent and easy to see why he was drafted as high as he was.”
Broncos coach Vance Joseph said the club is still high on Lynch and sees him as someone who can develop into a good quarterback. Siemian has simply performed better and gives them the best chance to win.
The Cowboys have not had to wait on Prescott, who had the finest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history and is on the verge of breaking an NFL record.
Prescott on Sunday can become the first quarterback to be intercepted five of fewer times in his first 500 pass attempts. He has four in 498 attempts through the 19-3 season-opening victory against the New York Giants.
“I think it starts with his decision-making,” Garrett said. “And then just the value he places on the ball. He’s not frivolous with the football. He’s not someone who hurries a lot. He’s got great poise and composure. He values it. It’s a real priority to him. The quarterback has it in his hands every play. He lives it. He understands the importance of driving the football and ending each drive with a kick. And he’s done a real nice job of that up to this point in his career.”
Prescott calls setting another NFL record just numbers. His focus is doing whatever he can to help the Cowboys win and topping the list is taking care of the football.
“That’s what it means to me, that I’m playing winning football, I’m not turning it over,” Prescott said. “Having the record doesn’t mean anything, taking care of the ball means a lot to me, yes.”
Cowboys at Broncos
3:25 p.m. Sunday, KDFW/4