Before the 1997 draft, with the Cowboys in need of a tight end after Jay Novacek’s retirement a year earlier, the team had quarterback Troy Aikman help in scouting.
“He took my plane and had him go down and personally throw balls and work out with (David) LaFleur and then I had him go out to California with (Tony) Gonzales,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Friday. “We had him move around and got a feel for him. Troy got a feel for him doing those kind of things.”
Gonzalez went 13th overall, nine choices before the Cowboys selected LaFleur.
So, getting franchise quarterbacks involved in offseason moves is nothing new. They have a vested interest in decisions made by their team, so it makes sense.
This offseason Dak Prescott voiced a hope that the Cowboys would allow him “to help the team make decisions” this offseason. Prescott surely would have voted to keep Amari Cooper, but after the trade of Cooper to the Browns, the Cowboys got Prescott involved in the scouting process of offensive draft prospects.
“For me, that was a Dak thing,” Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay said. “It was important to him for the organization, and we reached out and said ‘Hey, here’s some guys for you to do your thing with.’ Because we’re 50-plus years old here, and we have an impression and a feeling about him, and the guys that are in the locker room also pick up tendencies and things and it was important for a great person like him to reach out to these guys and give us some feedback.”
Team officials wouldn’t specify how many prospects Prescott contacted, but one of them was South Alabama wide receiver Jalen Tolbert, whom the Cowboys drafted in the third round. Tobert was stunned to hear from Prescott last week.
“He was like, ‘This is Dak Prescott, man. How you doing?’” Tolbert said. “For a minute, it was like a surreal moment because I never knew quarterbacks called prospects. But it was awesome. We had a 20-minute conversation, and it was a great one. We immediately vibed on the phone, connected right there.”
Tobert rewrote the South Alabama record book with 178 career receptions for 3,140 yards and 22 touchdowns. He now joins a receivers room that includes CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, James Washington and Noah Brown.