Nobody had more attention or buzz than North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz coming into Senior Bowl week.
Wentz, after all, has the chance to become the first quarterback taken in this year’s draft, and pro scouts and analysts are intrigued by his prototypical build and athletic ability.
The hype grew even more during the week with Wentz being coached by the quarterback-needy Dallas Cowboys’ staff, and owner Jerry Jones making a spur-of-the-moment decision to have a brief encounter with Wentz after Wednesday’s practice.
But the Cowboys weren’t solely focused on Wentz. They made it a point to try to meet with most players, including those on the other team.
And Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott might be a name to remember going forward. He could be a mid-round quarterback option for the Cowboys, should they spend their early-round picks on impact players who give them a better chance to “win now” with Tony Romo rather than on a developmental piece such as Wentz.
Prescott had the best showing of any quarterback in the Senior Bowl on Saturday, earning MVP honors in helping the South Team to a 27-16 victory over the North Team.
Prescott, along with the other South quarterbacks, met with the Cowboys for about an hour on Friday. Prescott said he watched film and interviewed with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson.
“It went real well,” said Prescott, 6-foot-2, 226 pounds. “They just interviewed us, talked about ourselves and watched a little film together.
“Just tried to get to know us, all four of the [South] quarterbacks, and it was real brief.”
Prescott went 7 of 10 passing for 61 yards and a touchdown in the game. He led a two-minute scoring drive at the end of the second quarter, directing the South on an 80-yard march capped with a 5-yard TD pass to Paul McRoberts.
Prescott, who finished his college career at Mississippi State with more than 9,000 passing yards and 2,500 rushing yards, felt he had a successful week in showing NFL teams he has the ability to succeed at the next level.
“[I wanted to show] who I am, the person I am and the intangibles I have — the way I can lead other guys,” Prescott said. “I have fun while I’m playing this game that I love.”
Wentz felt he did the same, and quieted critics about playing in college football’s second tier — the FCS. He seemed to have solidified himself as a first-round talent, and the question now becomes just how high he might go.
Wentz didn’t have the performance he would have liked, however, after a solid week of practice. He was 6 of 10 passing for 50 yards, including two dropped passes, and didn’t lead a scoring drive.
“It was OK,” Wentz said. “Obviously we didn’t score any points when I was in there, so that’s the biggest thing. Kind of bummed about that, but I thought it went OK.”
In the end, every player felt they enhanced their draft stock throughout the week, but the quarterbacks were of particular interest to the Cowboys.
The organization understands it must improve the backup quarterback situation after three combined to go 1-11 with Romo sidelined last season.
But did they fall in love with Wentz? Or did this week change their mindset into possibly taking a guy such as Prescott in the middle rounds?
Coach Jason Garrett didn’t tip his hand at any point during the week, and again stuck with generalizations when talking about Wentz and the other quarterbacks in a postgame news conference.
“Well, it was fun for us to get a chance to work with all those quarterbacks,” Garrett said. “We had a really good group. There’s so much for a quarterback to learn in a short period of time. I thought Carson did a good job. I thought the other guys did too.
“[Louisiana Tech’s Jeff] Driskel, [Stanford’s Kevin] Hogan, [USC’s Cody] Kessler did a nice job. Each of those guys, we got together Monday night and we gave them a playbook and said you've got to learn it fast. Each of those guys had the right approach. I think they got better. It was fun to work with them.”