Dak Prescott: The NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2017?

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys stands on the sidelines during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys stands on the sidelines during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

On a Dallas Cowboys roster full of stars, can quarterback Dak Prescott emerge as not just the team’s MVP, but the NFL’s Most Valuable Player as well?

It can be argued that the Dallas Cowboys most talented player is running back Ezekiel Elliott. Behind the best offensive line in the NFL, Elliott makes the most of every opportunity. And the Cowboys ability to run the ball doesn’t just dictate their offensive success, but in many ways, their defensive success as well.

While Elliott may be the focal point of Dallas’ offense, and the team’s most overall talented player, quarterback Dak Prescott may be more valuable. Being under center for America’s Team is one of the most glamorous positions in sports. It’s also one of the most scrutinized.

The pressure to live up to names like Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Tony Romo is immeasurable. Yet, Prescott, in only his second season, seems born to fill that role. His leadership, grace under pressure and maturity at only 23-years old is off the charts.

And in a season where the former fourth round pick was predicted to have a sophomore slump, Prescott has once again exceeded all expectations. After posting what was arguably the greatest rookie season by a quarterback in NFL history, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year has thrown for 1,818 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games so far this year. He’s also ran for 195 yards and four scores.

Just how good has Prescott been this season? Of all active NFL quarterbacks, Dak currently ranks number one in QBR (78.4).

Despite all the distractions that come with being a part of the Cowboys, the biggest of which being Elliott’s looming suspension this year, Prescott has remained poised and was still able to lead Dallas to a 5-3 record. And in Week Nine, against the 6-2 Kansas City Chiefs, the Cowboys quarterback proved just how important he is to this team.

"“We already knew Dak Prescott had something special in him, but Sunday was something else from the quarterback,” wrote Nick Shook for NFL.com. “Against a high-quality opponent, Prescott upped his play to exceed his nemesis, firing darts to five different teammates and using his feet to make plays when needed most … With the potential Ezekiel Elliott suspension seemingly forever looming, the play of Prescott is massively important. On Sunday, he proved he can handle the load.”"

In a pivotal game against the Chiefs, Prescott shined. He competed 21 of his 33 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. He also had another score on the ground. Following the performance, NFL Network’s Rich Eisen hinted at Prescott being a possible league MVP candidate.

But according to longtime NFL writer Peter King, Prescott is not even in the Top 12. In fact, King has injured quarterbacks like Houston’s Deshaun Watson and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers ranked ahead of Dak on his midseason MVP list. In fact, Elliott appears on that list at the 12th spot while Prescott is completely missing from it.

That’s one of the issues with being on a team like the Cowboys. On a roster full of stars, it’s hard to pin down where the majority of the credit should go. It’s much easier on a team like the New England Patriots or the Philadelphia Eagles to identify their MVP because of their lack of overall talent.

But on a Dallas team that possesses players like Prescott, Elliott, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Sean Lee and DeMarcus Lawrence, it’s much more difficult to pinpoint which of them is the most valuable. And often, individual importance is lost on anyone not following the team religiously because there are simply so many big names to consider.

But any Dallas fan who experienced the revolving door of mediocre quarterbacks the Cowboys had under center after Troy Aikman retired back in 2001 knows just how valuable Dak Prescott is to their team.

Next: 10 things we learned after Cowboys smashed Chiefs

And if you ever question that fact, or if you have simply blocked out those painful post-Aikman, pre-Romo seasons from your memory, ask a fan of a team who doesn’t have a franchise quarterback under center just how valuable having one is.