Pro Football Focus released its ranking of the top 101 NFL players from the 2016 NFL season, and many Dallas Cowboys fans were surprised to see Offensive Rookie of the Year Dak Prescott – who for many was an MVP candidate midway through the year – ranked as the eighth best quarterback in the NFL and 88th overall among all players.
On Monday’s episode of Undisputed, guest hosts Cris Carter and Nick Wright debated Prescott’s ranking:
Nick Wright: The numbers say Dak Prescott is in the top five
“If he’s being judged as the 88th best player in the league from last year, then of course he deserves more credit. Very often, people talk about Dak as ‘for a rookie, he was amazing,’ ‘for a rookie, he did this.’
And it’s true. If you compare his rookie season to Derek Carr, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Jameis Winston, he had a higher passer rating than any of them. He had a better completion percentage than any of them. He had a better touchdown-interception ratio than any of them. But we can throw that out. Forget how he did compared to other rookies in the past.
How he did compared to the league this year? Touchdown-interception ratio: second, behind only Tom Brady. Passer rating: third, behind only Tom Brady and Matt Ryan. Completion percentage: third, behind Sam Bradford, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. Yards per attempt – not dinking and dunking Dak, passing downfield: fourth.”
Nick Wright: Prescott is being unfairly judged because he’s a rookie
“If you want to say Matt Ryan and Tom Brady were better than Dak this year, I can buy that. There’s an argument to be had there. I’ll engage in that discussion. But Andrew Luck was better than Dak Prescott this year? Russell Wilson? Aaron Rodgers, who I love, but through the first six games of the year was average at best? Drew Brees was better than Dak this year?
If Dak were not a rookie, if he was a four-year vet who had made a couple Pro Bowls, he would have won the damn MVP. And because he’s a rookie and was judged, initially, on a curve that benefited him, and [later] on a curve that hurt him because we’re like ‘a rookie can’t be this good,’ we ignore the fact that he threw 6.5 touchdowns for every interception, and that he had a 105 quarterback rating. If Dak’s the 88th best player in the sport and there’s seven quarterbacks better than him, then I was watching a different league this year.”
Cris Carter: Any of the seven QBs ahead of Dak could have had the same success in Dallas
“If I watched the Dallas Cowboys and I go through the quarterbacks that were ranked ahead of him – forget about the players – I have a healthy respect for Pro Football Focus, and how they come about getting their numbers. With him being the 8th ranked quarterback, let’s go in backward sequence.
If Drew Brees was quarterbacking the Dallas Cowboys, would they have ended up at least 13-3 and in the divisional round? Don’t answer. Yes.
Carr. If he was on the Cowboys, would the Cowboys be at least as good or better? Russell Wilson, would he be able to lead the Cowboys? Absolutely.
Andrew Luck, that’s the real question mark. If someone actually gave him protection, will we be able to see his potential? So that’s a legitimate argument, I can understand.
Ryan, Rodgers and Brady are without question, with less-than personnel, what they did for their teams…. So I can understand why the quarterback ranking would be the way it is.”
Cris Carter: The Dallas running game made Dak’s life much easier
“Let’s go back to the rookie year comparison because there is a little slant against rookie quarterbacks. He was 23rd in passing and was ninth in touchdowns with 26. Very, very similar. They didn’t give Russell Wilson credit, he was underrated as a rookie.
Ben Roethlisberger. 22nd in passing, 19th in touchdowns. So yes, we have seen rookies that have performed well, but when they’re on a good team, they’re not going to get as much credit. The way the quarterbacks are ranked, I think the ranking is perfect. That’s where [Dak] should have been. He did have a spectacular season, but given the running game. How they were able to dominate in the running game. Zeke getting over five yards per carry. That makes the quarterback’s job easier.”
Nick Wright: Dak’s numbers are deceiving because the Cowboys were so good
“What hurt Dak Prescott is the total yards. The one stat where he wasn’t top-5 in the league was total yards. Why? It’s not because he was throwing short passes. We know that because he was top-5 in yards-per-attempt.
It’s because they were beating the brakes off folks because Dak was playing so well. So in the fourth quarter this year he was 23rd in yards. But how did he play when he was throwing in the fourth quarter? Sixth in passer rating!
And how about this? 46 players in the league – we’ve only got 32 teams – 46 players threw an interception in the fourth quarter. You know who did not? Dak Prescott.”