Underrated: Dak Prescott
The personnel people in the organization got it right by all accounts with Prescott thus far, and that’s going to be huge. He’s coming from a spread system at Mississippi State, so there were a lot of conversations about how his game was going to translate at a pro level. But he’s been really dynamic. Yes, he had a lot of space throws at Mississippi State when defenders weren’t around, and the windows are tighter in the NFL, and yes, it’s a totally different ballgame once we get into the regular season in terms of effort, physicality and the temperaments that players play with, but the key ingredient here is that Prescott will be able to lean on a strong running game. The Cowboys should be able to stay afloat with him in there.
Overrated: Jason Witten
It pains me to say this, but Witten’s play is on the decline. He’s a solid player but is no longer the go-to on third down or the touchdown-scoring guy who we’ve seen in the past. The biggest difference is he used to be a tough tackle in the secondary, and now he has a hard time getting away from anybody after the catch. He’s almost resigned now to catching the ball and falling down.
Prescott will have a quality supporting cast around him: one of the best offensive lines around in pro football, a difference maker outside with Dez Bryant, and, of course, rookie hotshot RB Ezekiel Elliott. In terms of their running game, this season is back to the future for the Cowboys. Elliott takes the place of DeMarco Murray, and he has better vision and the ability to make a man miss in the secondary. Dallas’s style of play goes back to the formula of the ‘90s with the triplets—with Prescott having to lean on Dez Bryant and Elliott while Romo is down. They should be right there, No. 1 or No. 2 in rushing and I believe No. 1 or No. 2 in time of possession. That’s the way they’ll play. Because of that supporting cast, until Tony Romo gets back healthy, the Cowboys may be able to perform better than people think.