All the tools are in place for Ezekiel Elliott to make a splash his rookie season.
Understand this: If you let five backs go off the board before selecting Elliott, chances are you will not get him. It’s a guarantee that someone in your league will view the rookie out of Ohio State as a top-three back, a justifiable view. Dallas has had the best rushing offense for the past two years on the back of the league’s best offensive line. After helping DeMarco Murray to a 1,845-yard season in 2014, the Cowboys line paved the way for Darren McFadden to finish fourth in rushing last year with 1,089 yards despite getting more than 10 carries just nine times. Elliott’s unquestionably a more talented back, running for a total of 3,699 yards in his final two years in Columbus. He’s roundly praised as one of the best blockers at the running back position to come out of college in some time, a trait that, if true, would help him quickly become a true three-down back. In today’s NFL, it’s hard to imagine a team using the fourth overall pick on a back they didn’t plan to feature immediately. At the same time, the Cowboys have McFadden, Alfred Morris and receiving threat Lance Dunbar on the roster. As good as Elliott is, and as perfect as the Dallas environment is for him, he’s still a rookie. The case for Elliott as a top-three back is dependent, at least in part, on him being a workhorse in the style of Adrian Peterson. I’m not totally convinced that will happen, which explains his lower-than-average ranking here.