Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft: Positions off limits in 1st round
Running back: Is Ezekiel Elliott safe?
It’s tough to beat the college production displayed by running back Ezekiel Elliott from 2013-2015 while at Ohio State University. This player defined the meaning of the term ‘featured running back’ while with the Buckeyes and put an exclamation point on that title with 230 yards rushing against the top-ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama in a 2015 College Football Playoff semifinal. Elliott tallied those yards – and two touchdowns – on just 20 carries.
Some were surprised when the Dallas Cowboys made Elliott the fourth-overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, although they really should not have been. Names like Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett should give all the proof needed that America’s Team wins championships with top-notch running backs, and Elliott proved during his rookie year that he falls into that category, at least when he’s on the field.
Leading the NFL in rushing as a rookie is no easy task, but when you’re as uniquely talented as Elliott is and you’ve got one of the best offensive lines in the league in front of you, good things can happen quickly for a young running back.
But there’s more to the story.
Elliott has proven to be much more immature than most fans in North Texas realized when he was selected. In fact, I watched a great feature about Elliott in the months before he was selected by the Cowboys and I found that he comes from a good household with educated parents. Elliott had just about every advantage a kid could ask for growing up, and yet his behavior can be subtly cringeworthy when looking up close.
Even if we take away the accusations of domestic violence, which resulted in that six-game suspension that helped torpedo the ’17 regular season for the Cowboys, there’s been a growing collection of issues surrounding Elliott that are well-documented. Think what you want about the suspension itself and the abhorrent behavior by the worst commissioner in professional sports, but it’s not like Elliott has done himself any favors.
Even coming out of that suspension, Elliott prepared for his triumphant return by making a bet with Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson that he would rush for 200-yards against the dying Seattle Seahawks in a Week 16 showdown with heavy playoff implications at stake for both teams.
Well, just 97 yards and an embarrassing 21-12 loss later, and you wonder why Elliott felt the need to offer up bulletin board material to a still-proud and talented Seahawks team that essentially said, ”no way, not today.”
Ever watched Saquon Barkley of Penn State carry the rock?
Let’s just say that Barkley possesses a skill set and college resume that’s remarkably similar to that of Elliott. In fact, some believe that Barkley could be a better NFL prospect than Elliott was, and it’s hard to argue. Of all those quarterbacks that are expected to go in the first round next April, Barkley is better and more ready for the NFL than any of them.
While I can’t imagine Elliott and Barkley both with the Cowboys, it wouldn’t exactly be a shocker if suddenly Elliott was available to another team if, for some crazy reason, Barkley was to slide to the 19th selection and Dallas pounced on an unlikely yet potentially wise opportunity.