Although Tony Romo has been one of the most successful quarterbacks in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, it’s never too soon to prepare for the future. In the NFL, injuries occur and skills can diminish incredibly fast. It’s always smart to plan ahead.
Now even though it appears Romo will be the starter for at least the next few seasons, Dallas would be wise to draft a quarterback in this year’s draft.
Selecting a young quarterback now would allow the team time to groom him before he is thrown onto the field. It would also provide a security blanket behind Romo in case something severe was to happen.
There are plenty of quality quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft. Let’s examine some of the players the Cowboys should keep their eye on.
The first quarterback on this list should be available throughout most of the draft. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd is projected to go in the seventh round, or not at all.
According to Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com (via CBSSports), part of the reason his draft stock is falling is due to his performance at the Senior Bowl. Boyd was inaccurate during the week of practice and in the game.
Boyd could be the perfect fit for the Cowboys because there isn’t much risk in a seventh-round pick. He could sit on the sideline and significantly improve before he ever had to play.
The former Tiger throws the ball with good speed and has solid footwork to get out of trouble. His biggest issue is his size. At 6’1”, Boyd is “undersized” for an NFL quarterback and will have to adjust similar to how Russell Wilson did.
Zach Mettenberger is someone else Dallas should have on its draft radar. The former LSU Tiger is built for the NFL (6’5” and 235 lbs) and is projected to be drafted somewhere between the third and fourth rounds.
The most impressive part of Mettenberger’s game has to be his arm strength. He has good vision down the field and the arm to sling the ball where he pleases. Mettenberger makes good decisions in general and has the ability to deliver passes even with pressure.
His weaknesses include not being a verbal leader and his pre-snap recognition of blitzes.
I think Mettenberger should be a real option for the Cowboys. He’s the perfect fit for a middle-round selection and would benefit greatly learning from Romo.
Another SEC quarterback who the Cowboys should watch is Alabama’s AJ McCarron. After being one of the most accomplished collegiate quarterbacks of recent history, McCarron enters the draft as a third-round projection.
Although slightly smaller than Mettenberger at 6’3” and 214 pounds, McCarron has the size necessary to be an NFL quarterback.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy runner-up makes a lot of good decisions in the pocket and rarely puts his team in a bad position. He’s a balanced passer and his 36-4 college record shows he knows how to win games.
McCarron’s biggest issue is arm strength. He struggles on some deep balls and doesn’t have the velocity like Mettenberger.
Again, McCarron fits perfectly for the Cowboys. He’s a smart player who can make it in this league, but he will just need some time to fine-tune his play.
A lesser-known quarterback in this year’s draft is Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo. Despite not having a household name, he’s projected to be picked near the second round.
Unlike some of the other quarterbacks mentioned, Garoppolo has very quick feet and uses them to elude rushers. He’s an intelligent passer with quality vision to scan the field. Garoppolo’s got a nice touch on the football and his accuracy has improved over the course of his career.
Two things scouts don’t like about the quarterback are his tendency to force passes into tight areas and that he holds onto the ball too long.
Ironically, Garoppolo graduated from the same school as Romo, and he actually just broke all of his career school records. Perhaps he’ll break Romo’s Cowboys records next.
The last quarterback Dallas should be aware of is Georgia’s Aaron Murray. The former Bulldog is projected to go in the fourth round of the draft.
Murray delivers the ball quickly and is comfortable moving within the pocket to find lanes to throw. Another thing teams love about him is that he played in a pro-style offense for four years and succeeded in the SEC.
The biggest concern regarding the quarterback is his size. At 6’1”, teams are worried how he’ll transition at the next level. He’s also coming off a torn ACL, which he had repaired in late November.
Despite the negatives, Murray was an excellent player in college and will suit up for some NFL team next season. The Cowboys would be smart to have him on their list of potential prospects.
All projections taken from CBSSports, unless otherwise stated.