Cowboys' quarterback needs in draft are about development

The Cowboys should look to draft a quarterback, such as Luke Falk, on the third day of the draft as a developmental prospect. James Snook/USA TODAY Sports

With the draft quickly approaching, here is a position-by-position look at the Dallas Cowboys' roster and their potential needs:


On the roster: Dak Prescott (signed through 2019), Cooper Rush (signed through 2020)

Analysis: Prescott is entering his third season as the Cowboys’ starter and the Cowboys are convinced he is the right guy for the future. Prescott has a 22-10 regular-season record in his first two seasons, but he slumped in the second half of last season, as did the entire offense in which the Cowboys played without Ezekiel Elliott for six of the eight games.

Prescott is signed through 2019, but the Cowboys can look to sign him to a mega-extension as soon as the 2018 season ends. This is a big year for him. After having one of the best seasons in NFL history for a rookie quarterback in 2016, Prescott’s numbers fell -- 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions -- as the offense struggled without Elliott. With a full season of Elliott, life should be easier for Prescott as he works into life without Dez Bryant for the first time.

The Cowboys have added Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson in free agency and are likely to add a receiver early in the draft. The Cowboys’ offense has been driven by a big-time receiver for all of Jason Garrett’s time with the team from Terrell Owens to Miles Austin to Bryant. They shouldn’t expect a wide receiver to light it up as a rookie, so it will be on Prescott to make the group work as a whole with a passing game that struggled to get 200 yards in the second half of the season.

Rush won the backup job with a strong preseason but threw only three passes in mop-up duty. The Cowboys like his makeup and believe he can direct the offense in a pinch.

Draft need: While Prescott is their unquestioned leader for now and the future in their eyes, the Cowboys could still take a look at the position in the middle-to-late rounds. That has not been this team’s standard operating procedure. Since Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989, the Cowboys have drafted only five quarterbacks. Before taking Prescott in the fourth round in 2016, the Cowboys' last quarterback selected was Stephen McGee in the fourth round in 2009. While the Cowboys like Rush, he remains an untested, undrafted free agent. The Cowboys enter the draft with 10 selections, so using one on a quarterback would not be a surprise.

Possible picks: Western Kentucky’s Mike White, Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, Washington State’s Luke Falk.

Prediction: The Cowboys need at least one, if not two, quarterbacks, just to get through the offseason. They have not made a play for a more veteran quarterback in free agency, which is a sign of faith in Rush, but they should look to draft a quarterback on the third day of the draft as a developmental prospect.