Tony Romo has made brilliant plays for the Dallas Cowboys dating back to when he took over in 2006. There are critics who immediately reference his shortcomings in big games, but it’s safe to say several teams would’ve traded for him in a heartbeat. That said, he turns 34 next season. His days of Pro Bowl caliber play are nearing an end. The Cowboys have to start thinking about a succession plan. Is the 2014 NFL draft their best shot? If so, here are some options they might consider.
Tajh Boyd – Clemson
One thing to remember here is Dallas will likely try to find a quarterback similar to what Romo can do because he has excelled for years under the guidance of Jason Garrett. In other words they will want somebody with a good arm, mobility and can handle pressure from the pocket. The first candidate is Clemson senior Tajh Boyd. Though not as tall as Romo he is perhaps a bigger running threat. He’s certainly tough and able to handle repeated pressure with the arm to hit a receiver at any point on the football field. Leadership is not in question and his decision making has gotten much better. The big sticking point will be his accuracy and his height.
Bryce Petty – Baylor
Baylor continues to win yet the talk about Bryce Petty is limited at best. Perhaps it’s because many assume he’s a product of the system, which is fair but several experts are convinced the junior is better than he’s getting credit for. Petty has the height and arm strength of a pro quarterback, the required mobility to run the Baylor attack too. What is lost to so many is how accurate he is. The Bears have several fast receivers, so it’s important the quarterback be able to hit them on time and in stride. Petty is completing 69% of his passes and averaging a whopping 13.94 yards per pass. In terms of experience in a pro style offense, that is a question mark, but otherwise Petty is a serious sleeper candidate.
Jimmy Garoppolo – Eastern Illinois
How ironic would it be? The Cowboys got Romo dirt cheap as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois. Fans and media could not ignore the amazing possibility that they might get their next generation star from the same school. Jimmy Garoppolo has built an underground following in the scouting community. Indeed he has dominated the Division II landscape, showcasing his quick release, pinpoint accuracy and top notch execution. With several games still to go he already has 35 touchdown passes, topping his 2012 mark of 31. He also only has seven interceptions, hinting at his improved decision-making. The physical traits of a starter are there from size to arm strength. Quality of competition is a question, but then again it was with Romo too.
Derek Carr – Fresno State
It’s easy to nitpick the little things about Derek Carr. Scouts are concerned about his hand size and his lean frame despite having adequate height. He also has trouble with accuracy when under pressure. Still, the positives outweigh the negatives. He makes good decisions with the ball, doesn’t hesitate on throws and displays outstanding character and leadership. He has the mobility to keep a play alive inside the pocket and gets the ball out of his hands fast. The arm strength is there though is can vanish when his mechanics break down. Much will depend on how he finishes the season.
Bottom line? Tony Romo is the starter this year and probably next year too. Otherwise the Dallas Cowboys never would’ve handed him that huge contract extension. That being said, nobody should be surprised if they go after an understudy at some point in the 2014 NFL draft.