3 power RBs the Cowboys could deploy behind star Tony Pollard

Jan 8, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) carries the
Jan 8, 2023; Landover, Maryland, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) carries the / Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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The NFL Draft is officially over and the Dallas Cowboys addressed several needs this offseason through free agency, trades, and the draft.

Dallas traded for veterans Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore early in the offseason. Both additions filled a wideout and cornerback need that the Cowboys struggled with a season ago.

Then, they re-signed Leighton Vander Esch, Donovan Wilson, Johnathan Hankins, Cooper Rush, and franchise-tagged Tony Pollard for just over $10.09 million for the 2023 season. These moves ensured Dallas kept most of its key pieces from last year.

The Cowboys primarily focused on in-house free agents, though they did sign running back Ronald Jones and tackle/guard Chuma Edoga to replace Ezekiel Elliott and Connor McGovern. Those weren't flashy signings for Dallas, but they gave the team some depth behind the starters.

As a result, Dallas entered the NFL Draft with just a couple of needs. They needed a better run defense and they needed a replacement for Dalton Schultz. So, the Cowboys drafted defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the first-round and tight end Luke Schoonmaker in the second.

When the Cowboys concluded their draft, they drafted five defensive players and three offensive players, including one running back in Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn is an explosive 5-foot-5 back, who has the speed and quickness to be a lethal running and receiving option for America's Team.

The only problem is the Cowboys' lack of power from their running back group. Pollard is the biggest back on the roster coming in at 6 feet, 209 pounds. But the 2022 Pro Bowler is more of an outside-the-numbers player.

Pollard only had 12 carries inside the 10-yard line last year and only six carries inside the five. With Elliott as the primary goal-line back, they leaned on him more in the red zone. But with him gone, who will be Dallas' go-to runner inside the five?

3 power RBs the Cowboys could play behind Tony Pollard

3. Ezekiel Elliott

When talking to reporters after the NFL Draft, owner Jerry Jones did not rule out the possibility of re-signing Elliott back:

The ship has not sailed," Jones said. "We've obviously drafted a back but a little different style than Zeke, but it doesn't change."

It sounds like the Cowboys could still be interested in their long-time running back. Dallas released Elliott this offseason to save more than $10.9 million toward their cap space. But if the team can bring him back on a cheap one-year deal, that would give them the power back they need.

Despite the poor 2022 season, Elliott could be another important piece this season. Last year, the former All-Pro running back had his worst season in the NFL -- just 876 rush yards on 3.8 yards per carry and caught just 17 passes for 92 yards (all career-lows).

But his goal-line usage was big for the Cowboys.

He had the third most carries inside the five in the NFL (16) last season, only behind Jalen Hurts (20) and Jamaal Williams (28), and converted nine of those 16 carries for touchdowns. Elliott also led the team with 12 rushing touchdowns, all coming inside the 20.

Pollard was the far superior runner last year and maybe didn't see enough touches in the Cowboys' offense with Elliott. But the latter got the tough yards for Dallas, whether it was in the red zone or on 3rd/4th and short.

The Cowboys haven't ruled out re-signing Elliott and if he comes back to Dallas, he would be huge for those short-yardage situations once again.