The Dallas Cowboys have needs at wide receiver, cornerback, defensive tackle and potentially linebacker if Leighton Vander Esch leaves, but the biggest question surrounding the organization this offseason as it pertains to the running back position.
For the first time in his career, Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t have any guaranteed money on his contract. While Elliott is open to taking a pay cut to stay with the Cowboys, it’s highly possible he becomes a cap casualty come the summer time.
Tony Pollard, meanwhile, is a free agent and coming off a high-ankle sprain and fractured fibula suffered in the Divisional Round loss. Dallas could always franchise tag the explosive running back, but who’s to say Pollard doesn’t sign with the highest bidder for security purposes after his devastating injury?
There’s so many questions tied to the Cowboys’ running back conundrum. If both players end up leaving, which is certainly a possibility, the NFL Draft is the most logical pathway to fill their shoes.
That brings us to Mel Kiper’s first mock draft. The ESPN draft expert mocked Texas running back Bijan Robinson to Dallas at pick No. 26 overall.
Should the Cowboys take Texas RB Bijan Robinson in the first round of the 2023 draft?
Here’s what Kiper said of the pick (subscription required).
"This just makes sense, right? Team owner Jerry Jones loves star running backs, going back to his days of drafting Emmitt Smith in Round 1 in 1990, and he repeatedly has said Ezekiel Elliott is the Cowboys’ most important player. Well, Elliott could be a salary-cap casualty this offseason, and Tony Pollard — who made the Pro Bowl this season — broke his left leg in the divisional round and is a free agent. Could Jones and the Cowboys start over and take Robinson, the best back in this class, here? Robinson also is a great pass-catcher, so he’s more than just a between-the-tackles runner. He could also take some of the pressure off quarterback Dak Prescott.I thought hard about defensive tackle with this pick, with Bryan Bresee (Clemson) and Mazi Smith (Michigan) as two possibilities. Dallas struggled at times stopping the run."
Suffice it to say this sent Cowboys Twitter into a frenzy. While some fans endorse the idea of selecting Robinson — a likely immediate superstar — in Round 1, a large contingent of fans would much rather see Dallas take a running back later in the draft and get true value at the position. Why repeat the process of drafting a RB early and risk running into a contract headache a la Elliott down the line?
It just started. Buckle up.
Certainly not the only Cowboys fan who feels this way.
Anyone else endorse a Bijan-Malik Davis-led backfield? It would certainly help the Cowboys save money and address other roster warts. This team is in win-now mode. Why worry about Robinson’s inevitable contract dilemma now when it won’t become an issue for another three or four years?
More Bijan support!
Well, that ends that. And sue who? Jerry Jones? Good luck with that.
In all seriousness, Robinson is a heck of a player and would only help the Cowboys’ offense, and take the pressure off Dak Prescott. He’d be markedly cheaper than Elliott on a reduced salary or Pollard on a contract extension or franchise tag.
The only caveat is that the Cowboys could strike gold at the position in any of the other seven rounds, and they have more pressing needs at more important positions than running back.
Wherever you stand on the debate, the Bijan Robinson discourse is just getting started and isn’t going anywhere over the next few months.