Instead, the team desperately tried to trade up into the first round to take Paxton Lynch, who ended up in the hands of the Denver Broncos.
Prescott fell to Dallas in the fourth round, in part due to a DUI that he's since been cleared of.
Now the Cowboys are saying the lucked out, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King.
“I don’t think our guys would even consider trading Prescott for Lynch right now,” said Stephen Jones, Dallas COO and director of player personnel, and son of Cowboys owner and traveling mortician Jerry Jones. “No, I know they wouldn’t. That’s how much they like Dak right now.”
Jones also left the door open for the possibility of Prescott taking the starting job from Tony Romo, who suffered a back injury on Thursday that could keep him out for up to 10 weeks. The executive alluded to the 2001 New England Patriots, when Drew Bledsoe went down with internal bleeding and relative unknown Tom Brady took over. He never gave the starting quarterback job back.
“I can’t imagine a scenario where Tony’s not our quarterback when he’s ready,” Jones said. “But things happen. You know that. You know what happened to Bledsoe and Brady. I’m sure Tony’s aware of that. But the reality is, Tony’s going to come back for us and play great, we believe.”
Prescott's been sparkling through three preseason games, completing 39-of-50 passes for 454 yards with five touchdowns and zero turnovers, plus 53 rushing yards and two more scores on the ground.
He's also commanded respect by being impressive in practice.
Here's a telling anecdote from King:
In an 11-on-11 period late in practice, the offense had 10 seconds left to score, and Prescott was the quarterback with the first unit. He passed to Dez Bryant, and Bryant was supposed to out of bounds immediately so the clock would stop or go to the ground so the offense could call a timeout. But Bryant tried to score instead, was stopped, and the clock ran out. Prescott ran to him and said words to this effect: We know you’re the best receiver in the world and you MIGHT score, but we can’t take that chance. You gotta use your head and get the clock stopped. That’s a rookie, talking to Dez Bryant. And Bryant, to his credit acknowledged Prescott was right. Prescott grew a lot in the eyes of the starting offense, and the coaches, that day.
Bryant, the All-Pro receiver, has commented on his developing relationship with the quarterback.
Dez Bryant: The chemistry between Dak Prescott and the team, "it's tremendous. We're gonna back him up and he's gonna do the same."
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 28, 2016
“It’s a different feel around here this time,” Jones said, referencing the fact that his Cowboys are 1-13 over the last three seasons in games started by people not named Romo. “We like what we’ve got behind Tony now. This is still a gut punch. It hurts bad. But I can tell you this time we’re not going to be sitting around worrying when Tony gets back. We can’t say, ‘We need to go 3-3,’ or whatever, with Tony gone. The hell with that. We gotta have a game plan to beat the Giants, and to win every game without him.”
Predictably, Romo has been supportive of the rookie quarterback.
“I’m gonna be in Dak’s back pocket to help him," the 36-year-old said. "We’re gonna win games with Dak.”
Prescott said Romo's injury won't affect him or his preparation.
"I said it beforehand, that's the way I prepared to begin with," Prescott said, according to NFL.com. "Nothing really changes. I just gotta continue to do that and make sure I don't slack up or be lazy and just stay focused."