The Dallas Cowboys started Day 3 of the NFL Draft addressing their pass rush needs, and ended it by taking an old-school gamble the late Tex Schramm would have appreciated.
In between, the Cowboys made their biggest splash, taking a quarterback that could be seen as Tony Romo's heir — in a few years of course.
The Cowboys made six picks in all — two in the fourth round and four in the sixth round — and spent a significant portion of that capital trying to address some of the gaps they have on defense.
"We're pleased with our third day," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.
Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, taken with the Cowboys' fourth-round compensatory pick, sucked up most of the attention on Day 3. Prescott left MSU as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in SEC history.
Along with Prescott the Cowboys selected Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper, Central Michigan safety Kavon Frazier, Purdue cornerback Anthony Brown, Eastern Michigan running back Darius Jackson and Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers, who is making the transition to football.
Prescott became just the fourth quarterback in FBS history to leave school with at least 70 career touchdown passes and 40 career rushing touchdowns. The Cowboys spent a great deal of time with him during the scouting process, meeting with Prescott four different times. The Cowboys do not envision Prescott as the immediate backup to Romo this season — that job for now is entrusted to Kellen Moore. In fact, the Cowboys see a real opportunity for Prescott to have time to grow as a player and learn from Romo while the vet continues his prolific career.
Prescott, of course, believes he could be the backup this year. He sees this as the natural progression of his life, as he told reporters that he spent his childhood running around his house imagining himself as the Cowboys' starting quarterback. But for now he says he just wants to work.
“It’ll be awesome," Prescott said. "I’m going to go in there I’m going to work and I’m going to compete. I’m going to do the best I can and work as hard as I can and try to outwork everyone there. Pushing Tony Romo, pushing the other guys, Kellen Moore, and just know while I’m doing that I’m making myself better and making my whole team better.”
The day started with the Cowboys selecting Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper with their first fourth-round selection. The pick provided the Cowboys with an edge rusher to add to their large rotation of possibilities on the edge. The three-year Sooners starter was named to the All-Big 12 First Team twice. With 15 1/2 sacks in his college career, the Cowboys envision him as a player that can find his way into the rotation this season.
Tapper had a workout with the Cowboys and met with defensive ends coach Leon Lett at the Senior Bowl. At one time Tapper was a basketball player in his native Baltimore, and as he entered his junior year his mother told him that he could either play football or get a job, so he opted for football. OU discovered him at an All-American Combine workout in San Antonio.
He admitted to a bit of surprise when the Cowboys selected him, but he sounded ready to go when he talked with the media Saturday afternoon.
“(I have a) High motor, (I'm a) raw, passionate player," Tapper said. "Every play I am going to go out there like it’s my last. Whatever Coach tells me to do I am going to go out there and do it 110 miles per hour.”
Gathers only started working toward a football career last month, when he held a pro day workout in New Orleans and most of the league's teams sent a scout. That group included Cowboys assistant offensive line coach Steve Loney.
"He's just impressive physically," Garrett said of Gathers. "He hasn't played a lot of football in his life. Steve Loney went to his workout and he was impressed with him. He's determined to do this and we felt it was a worthwhile opportunity take a chance on someone."
Gathers, at 6-foot-8, 275 pounds, was one of the top basketball players in the nation the past couple of years. The Cowboys see him as a fit at tight end.
The gamble is reminiscent of some of the players Schramm and his top player personnel director, Gil Brandt, selected in the first 30 years of the franchise, players that didn't always have the straight football background but had unique measureables, whether it be speed or size.
Frazier, Brown and Jackson all come to the Cowboys with the opportunity to contribute on special teams right away, but need time to develop. Frazier is considered a downhill safety with run-stopping ability, while Brown and Jackson were two of the fastest players in college football during the scouting process.
Want to know more about the players the Cowboys selected? Check out the Cowboys NFL Draft hub, or catch up with Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcards or Mike Fisher @FishSports.