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Jerry Jones: Tony Romo will be good mentor for rookie Dak Prescott

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has finally embraced Tony Romo's football mortality.

So has coach Jason Garrett.

That's why the Cowboys made Mississippi State's Dak Prescott just the third quarterback the club has drafted since 2001 and the first since 2009.

Hip, hip hooray. Pour some champagne. Light a stogey.

Just understand, you shouldn't view Prescott as Romo's eventual successor. Since 2000, only six of the 118 quarterbacks drafted in the fourth round and beyond have started at least 25 games

Washington's Kirk Cousins and Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor should add their names to the list by the end of the upcoming season, pushing the total to eight.

If Prescott becomes a valuable backup -- the kind of player who can go 2-2 if he has to play for a month -- and earns a second contract then he'll have been a terrific pick. If he eventually becomes the Cowboys' starter, then it's phenomenal pick.

“A great leader, positively impacted everybody there, has played big in big games and has done a lot of really good things on the field,” Garrett said of Prescott. “Physically, he is big. He is strong. He can throw it. He can run. He is a very experienced player.

“Again, he is developmental from the standpoint that he is young and he has to learn how we want to do things, but there are a lot of tools there and a lot of great character qualities that you love.”

For most franchises, drafting a quarterback doesn't warrant a celebration because they do it fairly frequently.

Not the Cowboys.

They've ignored the position for so long they had no choice but to aggressively pursue a quarterback in the draft. In true Jerry Jones fashion, once he made up his mind to take a quarterback he was willing to sacrifice the heart of this draft to do it.

The Cowboys offered Seattle its picks in the second (No. 34 overall) and fourth round (No. 101) for the No. 26 pick. But Denver offered Seattle a swap of first-round picks, plus a third-round pick (No. 94).

“When I look back on my life, I overpaid for my big successes every time,” Jerry said. “And when I tried to get a bargain, get it a little cheaper or get a better deal on it, I ended up usually either getting it and not happy I got it. Or missing it.

“And I probably should have overpaid here.”

The Cowboys tried to move up in the fourth round and acquire Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook, but Oakland swapped fourth-round picks and gave the Browns a fifth-round pick, something the Cowboys didn’t have.

So the Cowboys settled on Prescott, a player they met with individually at least three times.

Romo has been so good for so long that the Cowboys haven't needed a young quarterback to compete with him. They've relied on veteran backups because they wanted players capable of winning important games at the end of the season, if necessary.

But their three quarterbacks not named Romo went 1-11 last season. Combine that with Romo's age and the Cowboys felt compelled to draft a quarterback.

They did all the research, working out most of the top quarterbacks before deciding Lynch, Cook and Prescott were the players they coveted at the game's most important position since Jared Goff and Carson Wentz weren't available. They were taken at No. 1 and No. 2 in the draft to Los Angeles and Philadelphia, respectively.

Prescott has all the physical tools you want in a quarterback and at 6-foot-2 and 225 he's thick enough to take the physical pounding.

He spent five years on Mississippi State's campus and threw 1,169 passes, so he's seen a lot of coverages.

At Mississippi State, he passed for 9,376 yards with 70 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

One criticism is that he needs to improve his accuracy because the throwing windows are considerably smaller in the NFL than in college.

The Cowboys also hope working with Romo and seeing how he attacks the job daily will make Prescott a better player.

“I’m not saying Romo is going to be having midnight sessions with [Prescott],” said Jerry, “but I think [Aaron] Rodgers benefitted from being around [Brett] Favre.

“He saw things in Favre’s game that could complement his game, and this is what motivated me to go ahead and get somebody on campus. He can learn a lot from Romo through osmosis.”

Romo has four years left on his contract, but he broke his collarbone twice last year and he's had two back surgeries in the past three years.

At this point of his career, you can't expect him to play 16 games. With Prescott on the roster, maybe, it won't be a disaster if Romo can't play.