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Who is QB Ben DiNucci and why did the Cowboys take him with final pick?

The Dallas Cowboys elected to use their final selection of the 2020 NFL Draft on quarterback Ben DiNucci to reinforce the backup QB role behind Dak Prescott
Credit: AP
James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci (6) waits for the ball to be snapped during the second half of the FCS championship NCAA college football game against North Dakota State, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde)


The Dallas Cowboys rounded out their first draft class of the Mike McCarthy era by taking James Madison quarterback Ben DiNucci with the 231st overall pick in Round 7 of the 2020 NFL Draft.


Don't feel bad if you have let your knowledge of Colonial Athletics Association football slip during quarantine. DiNucci transferred to the Dukes in 2018 as a redshirt junior from Pitt. The Wexford, Pa., native finished in the top-10 in James Madison program history with 479 completions (tied for third), 5,716 passing yards (fourth), 45 passing touchdowns (fourth), 687 pass attempts (sixth), and 6,718 yards of total offense (seventh).

DiNucci had a meritorious final season with the Dukes as he earned conference offensive player of the year, first-team All-CAA, and AFCA first-team All-American.

Drafting a quarterback late is a staple of McCarthy's. To finish up his first draft with the Green Bay Packers in 2006, the NFC North club took Ingle Martin from Furman, whose only career stats are a couple of kneel-downs in Week 17 of 2006. 

In 2008, even after the Packers took a quarterback in the second round in Brian Brohm, and even though they had Aaron Rodgers finally replacing a "retired" Brett Favre, Green Bay took arguably their best backup of the McCarthy era in Matt Flynn in the seventh round.

Having a late-round quarterback such as DiNucci helps the Cowboys have a camp arm and a developmental player. Notably, it means franchise quarterback Dak Prescott's job is safe, even if he is on a franchise tag deal with the club as they work out the details of a contract extension. It also means Cooper Rush has a little competition, though more than likely the competition will take place behind the scenes as the club decides whether or not to extend Rush at the end of the 2020 season.

It’s also possible that the Cowboys went a step further with McCarthy’s late-round quarterback proclivities and just let their new coach have one for himself with the final pick as it turns out that DiNucci has ties to McCarthy. 

Mel Kiper referred to DiNucci as, "one of those overachieving quarterbacks you don't want to bet against," which underscores another reason why DiNucci could be a quality pick late in the draft. DiNucci can help run the scout team and the practice squad, if Dallas stashes him there at the end of the preseason. DiNucci can also help offensive coordinator Kellen Moore with the offense, as backups often do.

So that is the who and the why. The ultimate development of DiNucci's career with the Cowboys would be to win a Super Bowl. More than likely, that won't happen.

Realistically, at worst, the Cowboys wasted a low value pick as a gift to their new coach. At best, the Cowboys found a player that may develop into a quality backup for the organization which was a need going into the weekend.

What do you think about the final round selection of Ben DiNucci as a possible backup QB for Dak Prescott? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane

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