Cowboys: Drafting A Quarterback Late Will Be A Waste

Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass the ball during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 28, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) drops back to pass the ball during the 2nd half of a game against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys surely need to grab a young quarterback to develop in the 2016 NFL Draft, but this team needs to take a passer sooner than later.

Forget whatever Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones might say about the future of starting quarterback Tony Romo. It’s anybody’s guess how much longer Romo can hold the reigns as the face of the Cowboys offense, but anybody with a lick of common sense, including Jones, knows that it’s probably not going to be the 4-5 more years that the organization might be expecting.

What’s clear is that the Cowboys offensive coaching staff, which obviously includes head coach Jason Garrett, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson has never developed any quarterback in Dallas.

Look back a ways and you’ll see that the current regime, which essentially dates all the way back to Garrett’s surprising arrival as OC with no experience back in 2007, has always had Romo.

Sure, veteran backup quarterbacks have come and gone – remember Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, Kyle Orton and, most recently, Brandon Weeden? Assuming that these names are still in your memory bank, you’ll also realize that these quarterbacks don’t count where this discussion is concerned. These veteran quarterbacks all held starting jobs at some point previous to their arriving in Big D and had essentially already been developed. These quarterbacks still had some gas in the tank, but all were definitely at the back end of their careers, takeaway Weeden perhaps.

In terms of young, developmental quarterbacks, the Cowboys just haven’t had many. There’s no indication that the current staff can take a serious college quarterback and “coach it up,” as Jones stated last season, for a career in the NFL.

Dustin Vaughan?

The former West Texas A&M passer is now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the third team he’s been involved with and he was a rookie just two years ago – should Dallas have kept him around last fall?

Stephen McGee?

The 2009 fourth-round draft pick out of Texas A&M played three useless seasons with the Cowboys before missing the 2012 regular season and then ending up in the CFL. He was out of pro football last season.

Jameill Showers?

This undrafted rookie out of UTEP is intriguing, but he hasn’t done anything during the regular season at quarterback and it’s a complete guess as to whether or not there’s any plan for him, especially since he only hung around last season to potentially help on special teams.

Anyway, you get the idea.

A quarterback chosen late in the 2016 NFL Draft in less than a month probably won’t have the skill set to become a franchise replacement. There’s no guarantee that this is true – Romo was undrafted, remember – but if you want blue-chip talent it has to be snatched up in the first couple of rounds in most cases.

More from Sports Dallas Fort-Worth

It was one thing when the Cowboys had Troy Aikman still looking ahead to many more seasons during his Hall of Fame career. It made sense to bring in, for example, Bernie Kosar, in late 1993 as Dallas was pushing for a second-straight Super Bowl win. Kosar’s second-half touchdown pass to Alvin Harper in the 1993 NFC Championship game at Texas Stadium serves all the reminder necessary that having a playoff-proven veteran at quarterback is a huge advantage.

Again, Aikman still had a long-term future, which is not the case for Romo.

At this point, the time is now to get serious about drafting for the future of the franchise, and the fourth-overall selection in the first round of any draft is probably a great place to look. If not there, than the 34th pick early in the second round might be the last chance for the Cowboys to get a player with a true NFL skill set. Waiting beyond the third round would clearly state that Jones wasn’t that serious about future prospects at quarterback.

Frankly, I would never have Garrett developing anything at the NFL level, but that’s just me. If I saw the leadership qualities that other great NFL coaches have had, I might be more of a believer. If I had seen a young quarterback developed for anything other than standing around during the regular season, things might be different.

Instead, the talent really needs to be strong, which is probably why the Cowboys met with Christian Hackenberg of Penn State on Tuesday. This big-armed prospect is probably no later than a third-round pick, so a quarterback plan might actually exist. A player of Hackenberg’s potential would be an intriguing plan for the Cowboys.

Next: Do Cowboys Really Want To Draft A Quarterback

The odds of landing a franchise quarterback in the first round far outweigh the chances of doing so later on. Very soon we’ll now exactly what the Cowboys really think Romo’s shelf life is. The biggest question of the offseason is about to get an answer. Anybody from Jared Goff of California to Hackenberg would certainly suffice.