Dan Quinn gushing over UDFA signing will get Cowboys fans excited

Florida A&M Rattlers linebacker Isaiah Land (31) celebrates sacking the Bethune Cookman Wildcats
Florida A&M Rattlers linebacker Isaiah Land (31) celebrates sacking the Bethune Cookman Wildcats / Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA

The Dallas Cowboys approach to the 2023 NFL Draft surprised a lot of people. While they addressed their most pressing needs, the order was unpredictable and they abandoned their best player available regardless of position blueprint.

What wasn't surprising, however, was Dallas' approach as far as signing undrafted free agents. Some analysts believe it's the Cowboys' deepest class in years, which speaks volumes given their track record of success in the UDFA pool.

While Hunter Luepke and Jalen Moreno-Cropper are offensive pickups who have a great chance of making the 53-man roster, Dallas did well to equip Dan Quinn with more weapons even after their defense-oriented draft.

Perhaps the most exciting defensive signing is former Florida A&M linebacker Isaiah Land. Many believed Land would get drafted, but Jackson State DB Isaiah Bolden was the lone HBCU player taken in 2023.

Despite that, Land ended up in a great spot with the Cowboys. Why do we say that? Well, he has a huge fan in Dan Quinn.

Cowboys' Dan Quinn has a vision for UDFA Isaiah Land

While speaking to reporters at Cowboys rookie minicamp, Quinn revealed Land popped up on his radar multiple years ago.

“I’ve had my eye on ‘Zay’ for some time," Quinn said. “I first saw him [while] looking at [Markquese] Bell from a year ago, and he had a fantastic junior year, Zay did. He had over 20 sacks and really lit it up. ‘Who is this guy?'”

“I kept up with him through the time, even with Markquese. I remember telling Markquese at the combine, ‘Hey, Zay ran well. He did really good.’ He said, ‘He’s a dog.’ So, from that time, I’ve always had my vision on him: the size, the length … I know he can rush.”

Though HBCU's often get overlooked relative to FBS powerhouses, Land bursted onto the draft scene during the 2021 campaign when he led the country with 19 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss. The outside linebacker fittingly was given the 2021 Buck Buchanan Award as the FCS' premier defensive player.

While Land wasn't as prolific in 2022, he still produced 7.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and 8 quarterback hits while battling injuries.

It's unclear what Quinn's vision is for Land or whether the player will make an immediate impact in year one, but the DC is so bullish on the player that he's willing to play the long game and allow him to develop.

“He’s somebody that I’m excited to see,” Quinn said, “and there is no timeline on that. Development takes time. You’re not going to get there in one day or two days. We’re going to be in this for the long haul and see what they can do.”

Land's upside ostensibly is as an edge rusher and part-time linebacker who flies sideline-to-sideline tackling ball-carriers, akin to Micah Parsons. Time will tell, but Quinn's quotes on the Florida A&M product should have Cowboys fans excited about what's to come.