How the Dallas Cowboys will obtain their next running back

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 29: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys kneels in the endzone before a game against the New Orleans Saints at AT&T Stadium on November 29, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 29: Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys kneels in the endzone before a game against the New Orleans Saints at AT&T Stadium on November 29, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Take a look at the Dallas Cowboys roster and it’s easy to see that the running back position is a need. Here’s how they can address that through the draft.

The Dallas Cowboys need a running back. There are many reasons why the above statement is true. For one, they only have three on the entire roster. Simply for training camp purposes, that’s not enough bodies.

For another, current starter Ezekiel Elliott has led the NFL in rushing attempts in two of his three seasons. Both times, he eclipsed 300+ carries. The one year he did not, he amassed 242 carries in just ten games.

Currently Elliott is 32 carries short of 900 in his very brief career. This does not take into account the number of receptions (135) or sheer number of plays in which he is a participant. If the Dallas Cowboys have any desire to have Elliott long-term, they are going to need to find a backup capable of more than just the occasional tote.

Enter the 2019 NFL Draft. Yes, there are still a lot of big names available in free agency but that route makes no sense, mostly because the Cowboys need to save their pennies for starters and not backups. The draft, though, that is where Dallas can find a poor man’s Robin to the Zeke’s Batman at a decent price.

Not only should the draft serve as the place the Cowboys find Elliott’s backup, they should also wait until a later round to do so. A study of recent drafts tells us that there are plenty of viable options, starting in round four, who should be available. In fact, since 2015, look at these names that went in round four or later:

2016: Jordan Howard
Round 5 Pick 150 – 3,370 rushing yards, 568 receiving yards, 25 total touchdowns

2015: Jay Ajayi
Round 5, Pick 149 – 2,516 rushing yards, 419 receiving yards, 14 total touchdowns

2016: Alex Collins
Round 5, Pick 171 – 1,509 rushing yards, 37 receiving yards, 15 total touchdowns

2017: Chris Carson
Round 7, Pick 249 – 1,359 rushing yards, 222 receiving yards, 10 total touchdowns

2017: Marlon Mack
Round 4, Pick 143 – 1,266 rushing yards, 328 receiving yards, 14 total touchdowns

2015: Javorius Allen
Round 4, Pick 125 – 1,249 rushing yards, 814 receiving yards, 14 total touchdowns

2017: Aaron Jones
Round 5, Pick 182 – 1,176 rushing yards, 228 receiving yards, 13 total touchdowns

2016: Devontae Booker
Round 4, Pick 136 – 1,094 rushing yards, 815 receive yards, 7 total touchdowns

2017: Jamaal Williams
Round 4, Pick 134 – 1,020 rushing yards, 472 receiving yards, 9 total touchdowns

2016: Wendell Smallwood
Round 5, Pick 153 – 850 rushing yards, 388 receiving yards, 7 total touchdowns

2017: Tarik Cohen
Round 4, Pick 119 – 814 rushing yards, 1,078 receiving yards, 11 total touchdowns

2018: Nyheim Hines
Round 4, Pick 104 – 314 rushing yards, 425 receiving yards, 4 total touchdowns

If you are scoring at home, that is 12 successful players out of the 53 total running backs drafted in the fourth round or later since 2015. At almost 25%, I like the chances Dallas can find a backup given that

A. The draft is a crap shoot anyways. A 25% chance to draft a good player on day three is something I’m definitely signing up to do and
B. All the Cowboys need is a guy that can get 10-12 touches a game and make a difference.

This also does not included undrafted guys such as Phillip Lindsay, Gus Edwards, Austin Ekeler, Matt Breida, Jalen Richard, Peyton Barber or Thomas Rawls

Oh, by the way, it seems like a good time to mention that fourth round players usually never eclipse $750K in any given year during the entirety of their deals. If the Cowboys were to go the free agent route, assuming that player had at least three years already banked in the league, the least that player would sign for would be $805K.

Should the Dallas Cowboys use a draft pick to get Ezekiel Elliott some help? Absolutely. Should the Cowboys do so in round two or three? Absolutely not.

Next. Top 10 Undrafted Free Agents in Dallas Cowboys History. dark

The first two picks need to go towards defensive help, primarily at defensive tackle and either cornerback or safety. Come April 27th, when the third day of the draft commences, you will see that is precisely how this team addresses the need of a backup running back.