2. Running Back
Heading into the offseason, Dallas’ running back room had a lot of question marks. Would Tony Pollard stay with the team? Would Ezekiel Elliott still be a Cowboy? Would the Cowboys draft a running back early?
Well, less than one month later and we have some much-needed clarity. The Cowboys franchise tagged Pollard for $10.09 million and cut Elliott — saving the team more than $10.9 million toward their cap.
It remains to be seen if the Cowboys will add to their running back room in the draft. They just signed Ronald Jones to a cheap one-year, $1.2 million deal, and he will now compete for touches with Pollard, Malik Davis, and Rico Dowdle.
But with Mike McCarthy wanting to run the ball more and a recent history of all three running backs not carrying a large workload, selecting a running back early in the draft wouldn’t be surprising.
Before last year, Pollard never had more than 175 touches in a season. Now, the fifth-year back is coming off a high ankle sprain and fractured left fibula. The Cowboys could choose to limit him throughout the season after his career-high 232 touch season.
Behind him, neither running back has a history of big workloads either. Jones only had 18 touches last season with the Chiefs in six games and 111 touches in 2021 with the Buccaneers. Davis looked sharp as a rookie last season, but only had 44 touches.
With Elliott’s departure, a lot of touches open up. In seven seasons in Dallas, the three-time Pro Bowler had at least 245 touches in every season, including 248 last year when he wasn’t nearly as effective as he was in his prime.
The Cowboys might not have a workhorse back like Elliott on their roster anymore. Pollard is coming off a major injury and doesn’t have that high-volume touch history. Further, when McCarthy called the plays in Green Bay, he gave multiple running backs touches and playing time.
Despite the Ronald Jones signing, Dallas can still take a running back in the draft. A player like Zach Charbonnet out of UCLA would be the perfect fit. At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, he can grind out those short-yardage situations for Dallas.
Even using a first-round pick on Bijan Robinson would work just fine as well.