Reich admires Dak: ‘Always followed his career’


Panthers head coach Frank Reich will be paying close attention to Dak Prescott when Carolina plays the Cowboys on Sunday.

But then again, Reich has had his eye on Prescott from the moment that the former Mississippi State quarterback was preparing to enter the NFL.

Reich revealed last week that in the weeks leading up to the 2016 NFL draft, when he was the Eagles‘ offensive coordinator, he had what he believed was a much higher grade on Prescott than most people around the league. Reich thought Prescott was easily one of the top quarterbacks in the 2016 draft class.

The Eagles traded up in that draft to obtain the second overall pick, which they used on quarterback Carson Wentz. Once the Eagles surrendered the draft capital that they did for Wentz, it meant Reich wasn’t going to get to work with Prescott.

But ever since Reich missed out on the opportunity to work with Prescott, he said he has gone out of his way to closely track the star quarterback because he felt emotionally invested in him.

None of Prescott’s success — from winning Dallas’ starting quarterback job as a rookie fourth-round pick to landing a four-year, $160 million contract in March 2021 to having the Cowboys be a Super Bowl contender — has surprised Reich.

“I had a real high grade on Dak coming out,” Reich said last week. “I was on a team that was looking for a quarterback that year Dak came out. I had a very high grade on Dak Prescott — a lot higher than other people. I’ve always followed his career closely and have a lot of respect for him, and I think he’s playing really good football right now.”

On Sunday, Reich will get an up-close look at Prescott, who in recent weeks has been unleashed. Prescott’s passing yardage totals have increased each week dating to Week 6, when he threw for 272 yards against the Chargers. He returned from the Cowboys’ Week 7 bye to pass for 304 against the Rams in Week 8, then passed for 374 yards in Dallas’ Week 9 loss to the Eagles before setting his season high with 404 yards against the Giants last Sunday.

Prescott now has 10 career 400-yard passing games; all other Cowboys quarterbacks have combined for nine.

In yet another irony related to drafting quarterbacks, if Reich had gotten his way with the Eagles, Prescott could have been Philadelphia’s quarterback — and Jalen Hurts possibly could have been selected three years ago by Dallas. Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones implied earlier this season that Dallas wanted to draft Hurts if he had fallen in the 2020 draft, but the Eagles drafted Hurts in the second round, before Dallas had an opportunity to select the signal caller that the Jones family admired.

“We looked at him really hard,” Cowboys COO Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan last season. “Obviously our guy is Dak, but at the same time, Mike (McCarthy) is a big proponent of continuing to look at quarterback.”

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