Dak Prescott, a fourth-round draft choice who started the summer of 2016 as the Cowboys’ third-string quarterback, has been named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Mississippi State product stepped into the Dallas starting lineup after Tony Romo suffered a back injury in the preseason, then never relinquished the reins after lifting the Cowboys to an 11-1 start. He teamed with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott to create one of the league’s most dynamic and dangerous offensive attacks.
Prescott threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only four interceptions in 15 games as the team’s starter. His ability to protect the ball and avoid mistakes led to an NFL-record 176 passes without a pick to start his career. After losing his first game as a starter, he helped carry Dallas to wins over Washington, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Detroit while clinching the top seed in the NFC.
Though Dallas’ season was derailed by Aaron Rodgers’ heroics in the playoffs, it was hardly Dak’s fault. The first-year passer sliced through the Packer defense for 302 passing yards and three touchdowns. His presence will make the Cowboys one of the league’s hottest young teams in 2017 and beyond.
Prescott held off a solid field of first-year players to earn the award. Elliott only needed 10 games to set the franchise’s rookie rushing record and finished his season with more than 1,600 rushing yards in just 15 games. Tailback Jordan Howard was a rare bright spot in an otherwise dismal Chicago Bears season. Guard Joe Thuney helped stabilize the Patriots’ offensive line.
In the end, Prescott was deemed more valuable than any of them.