Dak Prescott is an elite NFL QB
By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)
After an unfortunate and gruesome ankle injury ended his 2020 season after just five games, Dak Prescott is now healthy again and ready to get back on the field. This was an eventful offseason for him between recovering from the ankle surgery and signing a huge new contract with the Dallas Cowboys to remain their quarterback for the foreseeable future. As long as he can stay healthy this year, Prescott is lined up for a huge 2021 NFL season. Here is why he could throw for over 5000 yards.
From the 2017 season through the 2019 season, Prescott increased his output from each year to the next. In those three seasons respectively, his passing yard totals were 3324, 3885, and 4902. That 2019 season, which was his last full season, was the best of his young career so far. In addition to the most passing yards of his career, he also had his most touchdown passes with 30. He was dangerously close to the 5000 yard mark that season and was on pace to do even better in 2020 before the injury.
Prescott was off to a scorching hot start to the 2020 season and on an absolutely ridiculous pace. Through his first four games he threw for a massive 1690 passing yards. Extended over a full 16 games, if he continued at that current rate he would have thrown for 6760 passing yards. That would have been a new NFL record by more than 1000 yards over Peyton Manning in 2013 with 5477 passing yards. While it is very unlikely that he would have been able to continue a full season at that insane pace, it just demonstrates the extremely impressive season he was having before the injury ended it. It also shows that he is still improving as a quarterback and his peak has probably not yet been reached.
On paper, the Cowboys have one of the top offensive units in the entire NFL. They have a very good offensive line lead by All Pro guard Zack Martin, one of the most dynamic running backs in the league with Ezekiel Elliot, and a wide receivers group that includes dangerous weapons such as Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. Despite the poor quarterback play after the Prescott injury, last season the Cowboys still ranked 8th in passing offense at 260.1 yards per game and 14th in total offense at 371.8 yards per game. Those rankings would almost definitely be much higher if Prescott had played all 16 games but it demonstrates the strength of their offense that they were still respectable without him.
The trio of Elliot, Cooper, and Gallup were all major parts of the Cowboys offense in both 2019 and 2020 when Prescott was playing his most productive football of his career. They are all still with the team and should continue to contribute in a big way. The key addition to the offense that was not there in 2019 is CeeDee Lamb. He was a rookie in 2020 so Prescott has never had the luxury of a full season with the dynamic Lamb as his slot receiver.
Lamb showed last season that he is going to be a major weapon out of the slot for the Cowboys. He put together an impressive rookie campaign consisting of 74 receptions on 111 targets for 935 yards and 5 touchdowns. Interestingly, his three best games of the season were all games in which Prescott was the starter. It was a small sample size but that is an encouraging trend and an indication of what could be coming this year. With a year of experience and a full offseason to work with Prescott, this can become a very valuable connection this season.
All things considered, a healthy Prescott in 2021 is all lined up to have a monster season. With the offense that he has around him, he has as good of a chance as any other quarterback to lead the NFL in passing yards. He’s been extremely close to a 5000 yard season once, and was on pace to far surpass it last season, but this is the year he can really break through. According to the Draft Kings Sports Book, he is currently the 8th favorite to win the NFL MVP at 17 to 1 odds. If he can play to his full potential and eclipse that 5000 yard mark, he will be right in the mix to win it. Expectations are sky high for Prescott in the 2021 NFL season.