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Dak the GM? Cowboys QB Used 'Unique Ability' in Pre-Draft Call with Jalen Tolbert

Prescott surprised his new rookie receiver with a phone call prior to the draft

Step aside, Jerry and Stephen Jones. Dak Prescott's got this whole Dallas Cowboys general manager thing handled.

While a starting QB-turned-GM midway through his career would certainly be a first, Prescott's focus is on getting the Cowboys back to the postseason after a wacky Wild-Card ending against the 49ers in January.

Still, it didn't stop the two-time Pro-Bowler from playing a major role in Dallas' pre-draft process. With the Cowboys' eye on taking South Alabama receiver Jalen Tolbert, Prescott was quick to build some early chemistry with his to-be No. 3 pass-catcher when the two spoke on the phone in the days leading up to Tolbert's selection in the third round.

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"Strictly business?" Not quite. Tolbert says he and Prescott "just talked." But even then, it proved difficult to avoid discussing what the receiving room could look like with the addition of the 6-3, 190-pound rookie. 

"We just talked," Tolbert said. "We talked about my previous relationships with my quarterbacks. We talked about my strengths on and off the field, what challenges I have to overcome. Also, what I can bring to the table. Dak was asking me if he could put me at X by myself in a three by one, and I could go to the slot in between CeeDee (Lamb) and Michael (Gallup)."

Will McClay, Cowboys executive vice president of player personnel, felt that Prescott establishing a connection with a handful of Dallas' draft prospects was important to the process when speaking to DallasCowboys.com Tuesday. Along with calling Tolbert, Prescott reportedly spoke with multiple draft targets leading up to the beginning of the draft last Thursday.

"I just felt in talking to him, with his unique ability to communicate with everyone and to draw something from that, was to give him a couple receivers to talk to, get them on the phone and kind of get some feedback from him," McClay said.

Rather than going the traditional route of GM-to-draftee phone call, McClay said having Prescott involved signifies his long-term importance to the organization both on and off the field.

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"I don't know what other teams do, I don't know what's normal," he said. "I just felt that it was important to get Dak involved in it, and we've talked about the importance that he has for the organization and the way that he connects with everybody."

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It's fitting that Tolbert was selected at No. 88 overall, a number that holds special meaning for past and present Cowboys receivers. Hall-of-Fame receivers Drew Pearson and Michael "The Playmaker" Irvin both sported the number during their legendary careers, while the great Dez Bryant continued the trend on the way to becoming the franchise's all-time leader in receiving scores (73).

Lamb, the current Cowboy wearing 88, is poised to be Dallas' No. 1 receiver this year. McClay says it's always an unknown when bringing in a new rookie, but Tolbert's approach spoke for itself.

"He was very excited about the way that he approached football, the way that he approached this process," McClay said of Tolbert. "Who's to say what's going to happen when he gets on the field with us, but you look for the preparation, the mindset going through this."

Tolbert's numbers improved in each of his four seasons at South Alabama. After having just five catches for 60 yards his freshmen season, the Mobile, AL. native produced back-to-back 1000-yard, eight-touchdown seasons in 2020 and 2021. It proved to be more than enough to impress the Dallas front office.

In a draft class stacked with receiving talent, Tolbert was the 15th pass-catcher selected by the time the back half of the third round began. Despite being overlooked, his pre-draft connection with Prescott could pay major dividends headed into the 2022 season.


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