IRVING, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys have another candidate for the backup job behind quarterback Tony Romo.
The Cowboys took Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott with the 135th overall pick in the fourth round of the NFL draft Saturday, two days after a failed bid to trade up for another first-round choice so they could get Paxton Lynch of Memphis.
Romo missed 12 games with a twice-broke left collarbone last season, and the Cowboys slid from first to worst in the NFC East at 4-12. They went 1-11 without Romo. Kellen Moore was Romo’s backup when the season ended, and Jameill Showers spent most of the season on the practice squad.
Prescott set 38 school records with the Bulldogs and is one of two Southeastern Conference quarterbacks to throw for at least 70 touchdowns and rush for at least 40 in a career. Florida’s Tim Tebow is the other.
It’s the first time Dallas has drafted a quarterback since taking Stephen McGee, also in the fourth round, in 2009. And it’s just the third QB drafted by the Cowboys since 2001. Romo was undrafted in 2003.
McGee started the finale of the 2010 season, when Romo was sidelined more than half the year with another broken left collarbone. But the former Texas A&M player essentially was never higher than third on the depth chart.
“I’m going to do the best I can and work as hard as I can and try to outwork everyone there,” Prescott said. “Pushing Tony Romo, pushing the other guys, Kellen Moore, and just knowing while doing that I’m making myself better and making the whole team better.”
Earlier in the fourth round, Dallas finally tried to address its mediocre pass rush, taking Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper with the 101st overall pick. Tapper started 38 of 39 games over his final three seasons with the Sooners, recording 15 1/2 sacks and 26 1/2 tackles for loss. He was a first-team All-Big 12 pick by The Associated Press in 2012.
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook was taken by Oakland a pick before the Cowboys got Tapper.
Prescott said the Cowboys brought him in for a visit fairly late in the pre-draft process, and he had spent time with the coaching staff at the Senior Bowl. Dallas quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson went to Mississippi to see Prescott.
The 6-foot-2 Prescott, who got a master’s degree in December, was arrested on charges of speeding and driving under the influence in March. He said the Cowboys brought that up in their meeting.
“It was the elephant in the room,” Prescott said. “It’s something that I can guarantee everyone that it will not happen again. It was a mistake. But it’s going to make me a better person and it already has.”
Dallas had four sixth-round selections.
The Cowboys took Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick before getting Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith and Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins in the second and third rounds.
Dallas has finished in the bottom third of the league in sacks in recent seasons and won’t have any proven pass rushers when the season starts.
DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, second-round picks each of the past two years, will be serving four-game suspensions. Also, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Friday the team has ruled out bringing back polarizing defensive end Greg Hardy after one tumultuous season with the Cowboys.