Cowboys' Top 3 NFL Draft Fits: QB | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Cowboys' Top 3 NFL Draft Fits: QB

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN: Quarterbacks Marcus Mariota of Oregon and Jameis Winston of Florida State look on during the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium Feb. 21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

    Some teams have the philosophy that you should bring at least one rookie quarterback to camp every season. The Cowboys have relatively neglected the position and they're nearing the point where they need to invest in a young quarterback.

    Denver sports radio host Benjamin Allbright researched prospects and found that the vast majority of quality NFL quarterbacks had hands measuring larger than 9 inches, threw at least 55 mph and were 23 years old or younger at the time of the draft. In the 2015 draft, only five quarterbacks passed all three: Colorado State's Garrett Grayson, Southeastern Lousiana's Bryan Bennett and...

    Jameis Winston, Florida State
    Ht. 6036, Wt. 236, Arm: 32”, Hand: 9 3/8”, Bench: -
    40 yd: 4.97, 10 yd.: 1.74, 3 Cone: 7.16, Vertical: 28.5”, Broad: 8’7”

    "Famous Jameis" is one of the more polarizing prospects in this draft. He has legitimate NFL talent, but questionable decising-making on and off the field last year might be concerning.

    • Strengths: He's a football savant with an advanced understanding of how to recognize and attack defenses. Keeps his eyes downfield on the move and against pressure. Moves very well within the pocket. Good arm strength. Experience reading through progressions. Nerves of steel.
    • Weaknesses: He threw way too many interceptions last season, typically resulting from bad decisions. Off the field trouble. Mediocre athlete. Inconsistent mechanics - long motion and wide base.

    Winston's attributes and results ranging from spectacularly good and bad remind me a lot of Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco. Both are capable of losing a game for their teams or carrying them to a championship. The Cowboys would be wise to take him with their first-round pick if he's available, but he won't be.

    Marcus Mariota, Oregon
    Ht. 6036, Wt. 222, Arm: 32”, Hand: 9 7/8”, Bench: -
    40 yd: 4.52, 10 yd.: 1.57, 3 Cone: 6.87, Vertical: 36”, Broad: 10’1”

    Mariota is almost the antithesis of Winston. He played in a more up-tempo "spread"-based offense and is squeaky clean off the field. He was highly productive at Oregon, culminating in winning the Heisman Trophy last season.

    • Strengths: Mariota offers an impressive combination of athleticism and experience. He's mobile in and out of the pocket. He prefers to throw, but he's a threat to run if he wants.
    • Weaknesses: He comes from an offense based mostly on options and pre-snap reads. Questionable intermediate accuracy. Creates pressure at times.

    Watching Mariota on the field looks like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick if he traded some athletic ability for experience at the position. I'd take him first overall and I can't see him dropping out of the top 10 picks, but I also didn't think Teddy Bridgewater would last year. He will need a system like Oregon's in place or time to acclimate to the NFL.

    Chris Bonner, Colorado State Pueblo
    Ht. 6062, Wt. 231, Arm: -, Hand: 9 1/2”, Bench: -
    40 yd: 5.12, 10 yd.: 1.76, 3 Cone: 7.56, Vertical: 27”, Broad: 8’5”*

    Bonner is the quarterback prospect that most fans haven't heard of. Jordan Plocher mentioned him on Twitter just before he and the ThunderWolves topped Minnesota State-Mankato in the Division II Championship game, and he was intriguing enough to watch more.

    • Strengths: Bonner simply looks like an NFL quarterback. Has NFL size, arm strength and athleticism. Looks comfortable in the pocket and moves well. Keeps his eyes downfield and goes through progressions.
    • Weaknesses: Fairly consistent mechanics from the waist down, but arm slot varies and leads to spotty accuracy. Low level of competition. He ran a lot of bootlegs, so I wonder if his coaches needed to simplify the offense.

    The Cowboys attended a pro day that Bonner attended, so there's a chance he's on their radar. Any team that is legitimately interested in a quarterback will likely consider Bonner sometime in the third round.

    *Recorded at San Diego State and Colorado pro-days

    Conclusion

    Baylor's Bryce Petty is rumored to be a Day-2 value at the moment, but he comes with the same questions as Mariota without the upside. UCLA's Brett Hundley was close to passing the thresholds, but he has other red flags. Winston, Mariota and Bonner are the only guys I'd draft before the seventh round.

    If the unlikely scenario of one of the top two guys falling plays out, the Cowboys should consider drafting one. If not, they should take a long look at Bonner in the fourth round or bring in an undrafted free agent.