Six months ago, on NFL draft weekend, we didn’t think this would be one of the most anticipated quarterback match-ups of the season.
Not these two guys. The thought was maybe Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall draft pick, would earn the trust of the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff to get a few starts this season. Dak Prescott? After the Dallas Cowboys made him a fourth-round pick, the only thought given to Prescott, as it pertained to 2016, was whether he’d dress on Sundays.
The idea of Wentz and Prescott headlining a Week 8 Sunday night game in Dallas? No, never.
Yet, here were are. Wentz and Prescott are about to meet for the first time in which could be a long, spirited NFC East rivalry. The two rookies have amazed with their stellar quarterback play and both are serious candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The following is a look at how they both got to this stunning point.
Prescott: He was drafted out of Mississippi State in the fourth round. He was the seventh quarterback drafted. The worry about Prescott was whether he could be a classic drop-back NFL quarterback.
Wentz: He came from small-school North Dakota State, where he shined when healthy. He was considered a top prospect and projected as a prototype NFL quarterback despite not playing at the top collegiate level.
Prescott: He went from a project to a starter because Dallas backup Kellen Moore was lost for the season with a broken ankle in training camp and starter Tony Romo went down with a serious back injury in the preseason.
Wentz: The Eagles suddenly traded expected starter Sam Bradford to Minnesota, who lost starter Teddy Bridgewater for the season 11 days earlier. Despite playing little in the preseason, Wentz was named the starter for the regular season after Bradford was dealt.
Prescott: He excelled as a classic crop-back quarterback. He is a good leader and fits in well with his teammates.
Wentz: Like Prescott, Wentz is very smooth and has looked like a five-season pro from the start of his career. He has terrific touch and he can read defenses like a much more experienced quarterback.
Prescott: He has led the Cowboys on a five-game winning streak and they are the surprise leader in the NFC East at 5-1. Prescott didn’t throw an interception until his sixth NFL game.
Wentz: He led the Eagles to a 3-0 start and they are on the Cowboys’ heels at 5-2. He didn’t throw an interception in his first three NFL games.
Biggest worry spot
Prescott: There really isn’t much to fret about with Prescott. He can make every throw and the stage is not too big for him.
Wentz: The same goes for Wentz. He has thrown 3 interceptions in the last three games, but it doesn’t seem like a big problem. He didn’t play great in a win over Minnesota on Sunday, but the Vikings have controlled almost every quarterback they’ve played this season.
Prescott: In a lot of ways, Prescott is playing with house money. No one expected him to play, much less play well. So there is little pressure. But there is the Romo factor. He is getting close to being healthy. The Cowboys could have a tough decision to make; if Prescott continues to play well it will be difficult for Dallas to go back to Romo. So, Prescott may feel the need to perform in the coming weeks. Yet, this is a player who has shown no anxiety yet, so it may never happen.
Wentz: The tough part is over for Wentz. Philly is a tough place to play, but Wentz got the fans behind him with his smooth, winning play early. Philadelphia is all aboard the Wentz train.
Prescott: Whether Romo regains he starting job or not, Prescott is the future in Dallas. And the future will be soon. He has shown too much not to be the answer. He is going to go down as a tremendous draft steal.
Wentz: Unlike Prescott, Wentz is not looking over his shoulder. He will be a starter for his entire career. He has all the tools coaches look for in a franchise quarterback. He may struggle once in a while because all quarterbacks do, but he’ll be a long-term success story.