Here's what 10 stats tell us about Dak Prescott's one-of-a-kind rookie season
The Cowboys quarterback is doing what no one else has ever done, and we have the stats to prove it
With seven games remaining, the jury's still out on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott's rookie season. But entering Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens, it's safe to say the fourth-round Mississippi State product is on pace to put together a transcendent, one-of-a-kind maiden NFL campaign.
Just how special has it been? Here's what 10 incredible stats tell us.
1. In the Super Bowl era (1966-2016), Prescott is only the 14th fresh-out-of-college or nearly-fresh-out-of-college rookie quarterback to start at least nine games despite not being drafted in the first three rounds.
That doesn't include old CFL converts Joe Kapp, Dieter Brock, Jeff Garcia and Warren Moon, who were 28 or older during their "rookie seasons." But it does include Joe Pisarcik, who spent three years in the CFL before starting his NFL career at the reasonable age of 25.
It's important to keep this in mind when assessing Prescott's rookie season, mainly because he wasn't expected to be a Cam Newton or a Ben Roethlisberger, or even a Russell Wilson, as a rookie. Unlike pretty much every great rookie quarterback in NFL history, he wasn't a first- or second-day draft pick.
And yet ...
2. He's thrown 14 touchdown passes to two interceptions, while none of the previous 13 middle-to-late-round or undrafted regular rookie starters had a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Not one of those 13 guys had fewer than seven interceptions, and only 1980 Miami Dolphins eighth-round rookie David Woodley threw as many touchdown passes as Prescott. But Woodley started 11 games, threw 47 more passes and had 17 interceptions to Prescott's two.
Here's how Prescott stacks up among the highest touchdown-to-interception ratios by rookie quarterbacks drafted beyond Round 3 (minimum of nine starts and excluding older CFL converts):
3. His completion percentage is nearly 12 percentage points higher than the next-best rookie drafted in the fourth round or later.
Fourth-round rookie Chris Weinke completed 54.3 percent of his passes while losing 14 of his 15 starts for the 2001 Carolina Panthers. Prescott has completed 66.8 percent of his passes in Dallas.
Have quarterbacks become more accurate across the board in recent years? Of course, but none of the other 11 post-1970 merger rookie quarterbacks who started at least nine games ranked better than 19th in the NFL in completion percentage. Prescott ranks in the top 10.
Here are the highest completion percentages by rookie quarterbacks drafted beyond Round 3 (minimum of nine starts and excluding older CFL converts):
4. Prescott's passer rating is nearly 40 points higher than the next guy on that list of middle-to-late-round or undrafted quarterbacks.
This might not come as a huge surprise considering the two points above, but 40 points! It's Prescott at 106.2 and then the undrafted Chad Hutchinson, who posted a 66.3 rating while going 2-7 as a starter for the 2002 Cowboys.
Here are the highest passer ratings by rookie quarterbacks drafted beyond Round 3 (minimum of nine starts and excluding older CFL converts):
And yes, these numbers are slightly warped due to the fact passing statistics have blown up across the board over the course of time. But to put it all into perspective, Hutchinson was the NFL's fourth-lowest-rated passer that year. Meanwhile, with a 106.2 rating, Prescott is currently the league's fourth-highest-rated passer.
Here's a breakdown of where each quarterback drafted beyond Round 3 who started at least nine games as a rookie ranks among their peers in terms of completion percentage, yards-per-attempt average, touchdown percentage, interception rate and passer rating in their first season:
The above chart excludes pre-1970 merger rookies Kent Nix and Randy Johnson, neither of whom fared better but were ranked among a much smaller crowd.
5. Forget middle-to-late-round picks and undrafted quarterbacks -- Prescott's completion percentage is higher than any qualified rookie passer in league history.
Now that it's already clear Prescott has performed like no other quarterback drafted as late as he was, let's expand the field of comparison. Because the reality is Prescott's rookie numbers pretty much stack up to anybody's -- including dudes who were drafted far, far ahead of him.
His completion percentage of 66.8 is better than any qualified rookie passer in NFL history, edging Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers' No. 11 overall pick in 2004, who completed 66.4 percent of his passes in 13 starts. Prescott, Roethlisberger and 2012 Washington Redskins No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III are the only rookie quarterbacks in league history to post completion percentages above 65 in nine-plus starts.
Here are the highest rookie completion percentages in modern NFL history (min. nine starts):
|Robert Griffin III||Redskins||2012||65.7|
6. Prescott also has the best rookie touchdown-to-interception ratio of all time.
Again, we're not only comparing him to the Chad Hutchinsons of the world. In 2012, Griffin became the first-ever rookie quarterback to throw four times as many touchdown passes as interceptions (20 to 5). But with 14 touchdowns and only two picks, Prescott is way ahead of that pace.
In fact, Prescott's 7-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio is the fifth-highest in NFL history among quarterbacks -- not just rookies -- with nine-plus starts, ranking behind only Nick Foles (27 to 2 in 2013), Tom Brady (9 to 1 in 2010) and Aaron Rodgers twice (38 to 5 in 2014 and 15 to 2 in 2011).
Here are the highest rookie touchdown-to-interception ratios in modern NFL history (minimum of nine starts):
|Robert Griffin III||Redskins||2012||20-5|
7. Prescott also has the highest rookie passer rating of all time.
He's nearly four points up on Griffin's 2012 mark of 102.4 and is one of only three rookie quarterbacks to post a triple-digit passer rating in nine-plus starts (Seattle Seahawks third-rounder Russell Wilson had a 100.0 rating in 2012).
Here are the highest rookie passer ratings in modern NFL history (minimum of nine starts):
|Robert Griffin III||Redskins||2012||102.4|
For more perspective and in order to compensate for different eras and evolving stats, here's where Prescott ranks among his peers in comparison to every rookie quarterback who has made the Pro Bowl since the 1970 merger (and we've thrown Big Ben and Peyton Manning in there for good measure):
|Robert Griffin III||5th||1st||9th||1st||3rd||4th|
Every player listed except Prescott, Wilson and Dalton was drafted in the first round. More than a third of the list is made up of No. 1 overall picks. Every player listed except Prescott, drafted 135th overall, was selected in the top 75.
8. Among the 11 rookie quarterbacks in modern NFL history to post yards-per-attempt averages of 7.5 or better, Griffin and Wilson are the only two not drafted in the top 30.
His 8.4 average ranks second on that list, behind only '04 Roethlisberger (8.9). Wilson (7.9) and 1970 Buffalo Bills second-round pick (30th overall) Dennis Shaw also rank among the top seven all time, but everyone else on that list was a first-round pick.
Here are the highest rookie yards-per-attempt averages, modern NFL history (minimum of nine starts):
|Robert Griffin III||Redskins||2012||8.1|
9. We're only in mid-November, and only 11 rookie QBs have won more games in an entire season than than Prescott has in 2016.
Prescott is also winning like almost no other rookie quarterback in league history. On Sunday, he can become the 12th rookie signal caller ever to win nine games. And he'd be doing so with six games to spare.
If he and the Cowboys can finish the season 6-1, Prescott will break Roethlisberger's record for most wins by a rookie quarterback (13). No other rookie quarterback has 12 (Wilson, Luck, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco all went 11-5).
However, Prescott automatically can't post the highest rookie winning percentage in NFL history for quarterbacks with at least nine starts. That's because Roethlisberger was a perfect 13-0 in 2004. But at 8-1, he's currently in the No. 2 spot among rookie quarterbacks with at least nine starts, ahead of Dan Marino's 7-2 record for the 1983 Dolphins and Chris Chandler's 9-4 mark for the 1988 Indianapolis Colts.
10. His passer rating is nearly twice that of Troy Aikman's rookie rating.
As of Sunday, Prescott and Aikman will be the only Dallas rookie quarterbacks ever to start 10 games. Aikman went 0-11 in 1989; Prescott is 8-1.
The next-most-winning rookie quarterback in Cowboys history? Quincy Carter, who went 3-5 in 2001. Prescott already has more wins (eight) than every other rookie quarterback in Cowboys history combined (six).
Here are stats for Cowboys rookie quarterbacks who started at least eight games, sorted by passer rating:
So there you have it. When it comes to rate-based statistics and production relative to draft class, Dak Prescott is outperforming every rookie quarterback ever drafted within his range, and he's outproducing almost every rookie quarterback we've ever seen, regardless of draft position. Plus, he's winning at a higher clip than all but one rookie quarterback in modern league history.
Not only has he already clinched the best rookie season for a quarterback in Cowboys history, but he's well on his way to putting together one of the most unexpectedly remarkable first-year campaigns in the history of the sport.
To watch the Cowboys offense right now is to witness history.
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