For the second time in three years but only the third in 10, the Cowboys drafted a developmental quarterback in the middle rounds of the NFL draft. This year, Western Kentucky’s Mike White was drafted in the fifth round. On the surface he seems like a solid fit to be a backup quarterback for the Cowboys. Circumstances, however, could lead to much bigger things.
White, who played two years at South Florida before transferring due to coaching philosophy change, was an intriguing draft prospect. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, White looks like he belongs in the NFL. White threw for over 11,000 yards with 74 touchdowns and a career passer rating of 142.9 over the course of his college career.
A two-year starter at Western Kentucky, White admirably filled the shoes of Doughty (school’s all-time leading passer) in WKU’s spread, shotgun offense, posting career numbers in 2016. He faced increased adversity in 2017 with the departures of his head coach Jeff Brohm, left tackle Forrest Lamp (sacked 44 times in 2017, up from 18 in 2016) and four of his top six receivers from 2016, including the school’s all-time leader receiver Taywan Taylor.
But his play didn’t show a drastic drop off, joining Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph as the only FBS quarterbacks to throw for 4,000+ yards each of the last two seasons. With only one season of starting experience in high school and four different offensive coordinators (and three different head coaches) in his four playing seasons in college, White’s mental toughness and retention habits have been tested and prepared him for life in professional football.
The Cowboys were patient and now have another quarterback to compete with second-year player Cooper Rush for the backup position behind Dak Prescott.
For 2018, that should be White’s goal; beat out Rush for QB2. The Cowboys have kept three quarterbacks on their roster before. As recently as 2016, the Cowboys had Prescott, Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo all on the 53-man roster. In 2017, they also kept three for a time with Prescott, Kellen Moore and Rush.
There’s no reason the Cowboys couldn’t do that again in 2018, but obviously there is much more value in keeping just two QBs and using that extra slot on someone who will see on-field action.
After how Rush played in 2017, beating him out for the backup spot won’t be an easy task for White. Rush was by far one of the best preseason quarterbacks, completing 38 of 51 passes for 398 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions.
His performance forced the Cowboys to keep him on the roster and he eventually made Kellen Moore expendable. Yes, even in Scott Linehan’s eyes.
Because of this, the battle between Rush and White should be very interesting all summer and deserves to be one of the marquee camp battles to keep an eye on in Oxnard.
But no matter where White falls on the depth chart in 2018, there is a much bigger opportunity coming for him on the horizon which should be his motivation.
After the 2018 season, Prescott would’ve started three seasons in the NFL and he will be eligible to negotiate a new contract with the Cowboys with only one year left on his deal. This very well could happen, as looking at Prescott’s two years as a whole shows a mighty impressive start to a career.
Prescott caught lightning in a bottle in 2016 along with Ezekiel Elliott, but they weren’t able to keep that same momentum in 2017.
Of course, much of that had to do with Elliott’s suspension and injuries to Tyron Smith but anyway cut , Prescott struggled at times in 2017.
His 13 interceptions were certainly a jump from the four he threw his rookie season. A lot of this can be attributed to Prescott trying to do too much to help the offense but it also highlights that a quarterback needs to do a lot for the offense sometimes.
With Jason Witten and Dez Bryant gone, 2018 has become a huge year for Prescott; he must show he is the leader of the offense and capable of putting the team on his back.
If he can’t, all bets could be off for 2019.
If the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs for the sixth time in Jason Garrett’s eight-year tenure, there’s a good chance the staff will be let go and new coaches will be brought in.
If that happens, a new regime may have no loyalty to Prescott and could look to open a quarterback competition.
So for White, he has the immediate task of earning his roster spot depending on how the season plays out, he may be fighting for something much more important next year.
Either way, his presence on the roster alone should create some very good competition to a position that hasn’t really had it much over the last decade.
The Cowboys took Western Kentucky QB Mike White in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft. Here are five things to know about White.
White grew up in Florida and attended NSU University School, and led the school to a 13-0 record and a 3A Florida State title. He was also a 3A second-team selection in Florida by the Associated Press. He also finished fifth in the Florida Dairy Farmer’s Mr. Football voting.
White started his career with the South Florida Bulls. He played immediately as a true freshman in 2013, but struggled and threw for 1,083 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions in six games. He threw for 1,639 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions in his sophomore season at USF.
White then transferred to Western Kentucky and turned into a star for the Hilltoppers. He passed for 8,540 yards, 63 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions in two seasons at Western Kentucky.
Football wasn’t White’s first sport. He actually grew up as an elite baseball talent in Florida. He named a Louisville Slugger All-American as a junior in high school. He went 9-2 as a pitcher his junior year with a 0.43 ERA.
But he later found football and never looked back.
—Big arm. White has the strength to get the football to all three levels and outside the hash.
—High football IQ. Knows what he is supposed to do.
—Able to use touch to drop the ball over defenders.
—Can push the ball downfield.
—Three different coaches and produced well in each scheme.
—Struggles with pressure, and he saw plenty of pressure behind a poor offensive line.
—Lacks mobility in the pocket and on the move.
—Locks on to his first target, missing open receivers.
—Tries to beat good coverage with strong arm.
—Too many turnovers: 17 fumbles, 15 interceptions and 62 sacks during two seasons at Western Kentucky.
White is one of our favorite developmental prospects in this draft. He has solid mechanics, good accuracy and enough tools to see the field once he gets into the league.