Dallas Cowboys QB try-out Philip Nelson: the next Tony Romo?

BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 24: Quarterback Philip Nelson #9 (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
BLACKSBURG, VA - SEPTEMBER 24: Quarterback Philip Nelson #9 (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys brought in the once-highly-regarded QB, Philip Nelson, for a minicamp audition that could lead to a training camp invite and more.

When teams add quarterbacks this late into the offseason it’s to essentially take some of the workload off of the primary competitors at the QB position. But the Dallas Cowboys brought in a QB who may actually be more than a living, breathing JUGS machine. They may have just auditioned a player who really can play and even push the bottom of the QB depth chart.

Philip Nelson is not your typical “camp arm”. He comes with a certain level of pedigree rarely seen at a potential QB4. So why has no one heard of Philip Nelson? Imagine this – he comes with some baggage. Baggage that has significantly derailed his career.

Nelson was once a highly regarded prospect. He was one of the highest ranked high school QBs in the country. He boasted a strong arm, good wheels, nice touch, and next-level anticipation. But things went poorly for Nelson very quickly into his college career and none of it involved his ability to play the game.

Nelson began his college career starting for University of Minnesota. But for reasons unconfirmed he chose to transfer to Rutgers. After sitting out a year to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements, Nelson was poised to be their starting QB.

But an offseason bar fight in his hometown of Mankato (which happens to be my personal college town and the reason I’ve always followed Nelson’s career) left a victim of his with permanent brain injuries and subsequently led to his dismissal from Rutgers.

Nelson transferred to East Carolina, sitting out a second consecutive year and given one last shot at career as a fifth-year senior. While that year was clearly his best season (67.9 comp %, 7.5 Y/A, 2621 passing yards, 16 TDs, 8 INTs, and a 141.5 passer rating), it wasn’t enough to get him drafted.

How good is he?

Mike Martz said he thinks Nelson “is a starter in this league” and a guy named Jon Kitna referred to Nelson as a sleeper who resembles Tony Romo. Said FS1 analyst Joel Klatt:

"“[Nelson] likely won’t get drafted but he could land on a practice squad or even an active roster. [Jon] Kitna kept saying to me that this guy is like Tony Romo…Nelson might just be the next great undrafted quarterback in the league”"

While Nelson is extremely raw he has tremendous vision, and as previously stated, plays with veteran anticipation. Nelson appears to have the “it” factor on top of all the tangible skills needed to play at the highest level.

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State of the Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys clearly have Dak Prescott entrenched as QB1 for the foreseeable future. A mammoth extension seems imminent and nothing that happens down the roster will change that. But behind No. 4 the waters get murky.

Mike White is the odds on favorite to land the back-up spot but he’s shown next to nothing as a pro to be handed the job. Cooper Rush flashed greatness as a rookie but he regressed and looked like the second coming of Brandon Weeden in his sophomore campaign. Both will be given an opportunity to win the QB2 job but again, who knows what will happen?

dark. Next. Are the Cowboys undervaluing Byron Jones and the CB position?

It’s a long-shot to expect Nelson to make the Final-53, after all, he hasn’t even been given a formal invite to Cowboys Camp, but he could be a competent practice squader with atypical potential. The Dallas Cowboys have every reason to keep an open mind and run an open competition.

  • Published on 05/15/2019 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 05/16/2019 at 11:24 AM