Looking back at every QB drafted ahead of Dak Prescott in the 2016 NFL Draft

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

Dak Prescott has firmly established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the league despite what his naysayers might say. After all, there is a reason why the Dallas Cowboys will likely pay him a massive contract extension in the not-so-distant future: the guy can play.

Unlike most of the elite quarterbacks in the league, Prescott was not a first-round pick who was penciled in to be successful from the jump. He is someone who was never supposed to be a long-term starter, let alone be one of the best starters in the league.

It might not quite be to the level of Tom Brady but the Cowboys taking Prescott with the 135th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft truly was franchise-altering. Thankfully, no other team had the foresight to predict what Prescott would become as there were seven quarterbacks taken ahead of Prescott in that draft.

Every quarterback drafted before the Cowboys took Dak Prescott in the 2016 NFL Draft:

Jared Goff, 1st overall

Jared Goff has been one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in the league since he was drafted. Goff never quite lived up to the expectations of being a first-round pick and was viewed as the main factor holding the Los Angeles Rams back even though he made the Super Bowl with the team.

This prompted the Rams to trade Goff to the Detroit Lions and win a Super Bowl with Matthew Stafford. That should have been a death wish to Goff's career but he completely recouped his value and proved he can be a productive starter in the NFL. This earned him a massive new extension with the Lions this offseason.

In many ways Goff is like a worse version of Prescott. He is a talented quarterback who puts up good numbers yet gets overlooked by the entire league because he is not flashy. He might not be the best quarterback from the 2016 draft class but Cowboys fans have to respect that.

Carson Wentz, 2nd overall

Carson Wentz had the highest ceiling of anyone from the 2016 class (including Prescott) but it was extremely short-lived. Wentz was on his way to being the league MVP with the Philadelphia Eagles before he suffered a season-ending injury that opened the door for Nick Foles to win it all with Philly.

Wentz's career was never quite the same after that. After struggling and losing his job to Jalen Hurts in Philly, Wentz got two chances with the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Commanders that did not end well. It became beyond obvious that the MVP version of Wentz was long gone and will never return.

In a full circle moment, Wentz now serves as the backup for the team that traded up to take Goff in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Rams.

Paxton Lynch, 26th overall

Paxton Lynch's career was as bad as a first-round picks career could be. Lynch quite literally never looked like an NFL-caliber quarterback and it did not take the Denver Broncos very long to completely give up on the 26th overall pick.

Lynch started two games his rookie season, completing 59% of his passes with two touchdowns and an interception. He started two more games in 2017, throwing two more touchdowns with three interceptions.

Denver never believed in Lynch and he was relegated to third-string quarterback before this third season. Finally, after accomplishing next to nothing with Denver, Lynch was released right before the 2018 season began.

Christian Hackenberg, 51st overall

As much of a failure as Lynch was for the Broncos at least he started a game for the team. Christian Hackenberg never saw a single regular-season snap in the NFL after the New York Jets selected him in the second round.

Hackenberg entered his rookie season as the fourth-string quarterback and was only able to move up one spot on the depth chart in his second season. New York then cut bait with Hackenberg entirely, trading him to the Las Vegas Raiders for a seventh-round pick.

Jacoby Brissett, 91st overall

Jacoby Brissett has had some nice moments as a spot-starter for various NFL teams in the league but he is not someone who should be a full-time starter. Brissett has firmly established himself as one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league, which is not too bad compared to the other quarterbacks on this list.

Brissett has found his way back to the team that drafted him as he will serve as Drake Maye's backup on the New England Patriots in 2024. Brissett is 18-30 as a starter and he has started a game for four different teams in his eight-year career.

Cody Kessler, 93rd overall

Cody Kessler was drafted to a terrible Cleveland Browns team and was quickly thrown into the fire despite being the team's third-string quarterback heading into the season. Veterans Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown suffered injuries in the first two weeks of the season, giving Kessler a chance to prove what he was made of.

Being forced to start for a really bad team before being ready really did a number on Kessler's career. The former USC Trojan was 0-8 as a starter in 2016 even though his numbers, on the surface level, where not disastrous.

Kessler went 2-2 as a starter with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018 and has not played a regular-season game since. He has not been on a roster since the 2019 season.

Connor Cook, 100th overall

Connor Cook has started exactly one game in his NFL career and it is a playoff game. Cook was tasked with starting in the AFC Wild Card Round for the Las Vegas Raiders in 2016 after Derek Carr fractured his fibula in the second-to-last game of the season. Backup Matt McGloin was then injured in the regular-season finale, forcing the third-string rookie to start.

It went about as poorly as it could have gone. Cook completed 40% of his passes with one touchdown and three interceptions in a game the Raiders lost 14-27. Cook was relegated back to third-string quarterback in 2017 and was released before the 2018 season.

Cook bounced around three practice squads over the next year but nothing came of it. He had a short tenure in the XFL before it was terminated and has not played professional football since.