Sports Outside the Beltway

Cowboys Draft Washington QB Isaiah Stanback (as WR?)

Isaiah Stanback Photo Washington Huskies Dallas Cowboys .ocm NFL Draft Logo 2007 The Dallas Cowboys selected Isaiah Stanback, a 6’2-3/8″, 216 pound quarterback out of the University of Washington with their pick from Cleveland in the 4th round (#103 overall).

Both PoliBlog‘s Steven Taylor and I are scratching our heads.

So, basically, the Cowboys taken yet another outside linebacker, a backup offensive lineman, and a fifth quarterback with their first three picks in the 2007 draft.

The strange thing is that Jerry Jones and gang keep saying that the team doesn’t have any real holes. Why, then, did they finish 9-7, collapse at the end of the season, and lose in the first round of the playoffs?

I hope we’re not back in the mid-90s business of drafting backups. That turned a perennial Super Bowl team into a mediocre one. Somehow, I don’t think it’ll turn a mediocre one into perennial Super Bowl contenders.

As for Stanback, here’s what ESPN’s crew has to say:

Scouts Grade: 59

Strengths: Has good arm strength, puts good zip on downfield passes and can make all the throws. Possesses good size and it tall enough to see the entire field. Shows good patience when gets sound pass protection and has improved decision making. Possesses great mobility, throws fairly well on the run and is capable of making defenders miss. Has good lower body strength, shows great balance and flashes the ability to break tackles. Shows good ball skills and sells play action. Has good top-end speed, can change directions quickly and is capable of developing into a dangerous open field runner. Plays with confidence and is a leader on the field.

Isaiah Stanback Photo Weaknesses: Loses the strike zone too much, doesn’t have a great sense of timing and hasn’t shown the ability to lead receivers. Doesn’t put great touch on short-to-intermediate pass and puts too much zip on shorter passes. Throws off back foot at times, doesn’t always follow through and isn’t fundamentally sound. Lacks ideal awareness, doesn’t read defenses well and throws into coverage at times. Shows happy feet in the pocket and needs to show better poise. While has excellent athletic ability doesn’t have great pocket presence and isn’t as effective buying time in the pocket as natural ability would suggest. While has improved in this area, occasionally tries to do too much and gets into trouble when doesn’t take what defense gives him. Holds onto the ball too long and takes some big hits. Appears indecisive at times and isn’t as effective running the ball as someone with his natural ability should be. Suffered a season-ending broken foot injury vs. Oregon State (10/14) as a senior in 2006.

Isaiah Stanback Photo UW Uniform Overall: Stanback was redshirted in 2002. He appeared in 11 games during the 2003 season. While he primarily lined up at receiver, he connected on his only two passing attempts for 18 yards. Stanback also rushed for 27 yards on eight carries, caught ten passes for 143 yards, and returned eight kickoffs that year. He started one of the five games he played quarterback in during the 2004 season. Stanback threw for 389 yards, three interceptions, and three touchdowns while completing 33.8-percent of his passes. He also rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns on 41 carries. Stanback started all 11 games in 2005 throwing for 2,136 yards, nine touchdowns, and six interceptions while completing 54.2-percent of his throws. He also rushed for 353 yards and five touchdowns on 100 carries. The Baltimore Orioles selected him in the 45th round of the 2006 MLB draft. In 2006, he started the first seven games before suffering a Lisfranc foot injury against Oregon State, which required surgery. In those seven games Stanback threw for 1,325 yards, 10 touchdowns, and three interceptions while completing 53.4-percent of his passes. He also rushed 85 times for 350 yards and four touchdowns.

Stanback’s marginal footwork has always led to poor accuracy as a passer. In order to compete for playing time as a quarterback his overall mechanics and decision-making skills must greatly improve. He also comes with durability baggage. However, he possesses good size, a powerful arm and outstanding mobility. If he doesn’t make it as a quarterback, Stanback is athletic enough to contribute at wide receiver, running back and/or in the return game. That potential versatility is the reason we grade him higher than many other more polished passers in this year’s class.

So, he’s a mediocre draft prospect. The Cowboys already have Tony Romo, Brad Johnson, Brock Berlin, and Matt Baker. Granted, Berlin and Baker are low-grade prospects. Then again, so is Stanback.

There wasn’t somebody available who might actually get some playing time?

UPDATE: Chuck Fairbacks, Norm Hitzges and the other guys on The Ticket say Stanback will likely be converted to wide receiver in the NFL. That makes a little more sense, although he 40 time is listed as 4.62. I don’t know when that was taken, though, so it might be slowed down by his injury.

Brian Grummell likes him and found some good evaluations.


Pro Football Weekly: Is a truly outstanding athlete. Very fast with the ball in his hands. Better than expected throwing mechanics. Studies the game. Was very inconsistent throwing the ball with many streaks of inaccuracy. Has a great deal of innate ability buy may not be a quarterback at the professional level. As a passer he is far from a lost cause but will require a great deal of individual coaching, refinement and patience.

Street and Smith’s: Instinctive. Strong arm; able to make all the throws, including the deep outs and go routes. Able to create if the play breaks down. Shows the ability to lead and manage an offense. Will need to improve footwork and mechanics. Needs to avoid locking on to a primary receiver. Is a special athlete. Improved in accuracy throughout his career.


Well, the template of on-again/off-again passer athletes has been the fourth round (Michael Robinson, Brad Smith). I’m gonna be bold and say he’s a fourth rounder.


I like Stanbeck’s NFL potential. He’s a productive athlete with good size and is a late bloomer as a quarterback. For whatever reason projects like Stanbeck keep making it in the NFL and I think he’ll work his way into a solid career.

The question will be whether it’s at quarterback or as a returnman/receiver/special teamer. Most teams will probably give him a shot at quarterback but if they’re impatient and/or lack many quality athletes by necessity he may end up doing other things. I’d like to think he can stick it as a quarterback after some third string, practice squad or NFL Europe work, but I’m not a coach with a job on the line so I hunch he won’t be a quarterback for long. Humbug.

UPDATE: Ill give Stanback this much: He’s got an arm on him. Take a look at this YouTube video of him chucking it 70 yards or so to Craig Chambers in 2005:

via Tim McMahon. Granted, Stanback will be used as a WR/special teams guy by the Cowboys. But there’s always the option pass…

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