The former Ohio State Buckeye Ezekiel Elliott was selected number four overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2016 NFL draft. Elliott’s selection marked the first time the Cowboys had selected a running back in the first round since Felix Jones in 2008 and the first skill position taken in the first since Dez Byrant in 2010. The Cowboys obviously had a tough position between Jalen Ramsey and Elliott at number 4 and it’s debatable who the better pick would have been. Time will tell if the Cowboys made the right decision, but it’s assumed this decision was made with two goals in mind. One, take pressure off of the passing game by creating a serious threat out of the backfield. Two, give Tony Romo the weapons around him he needs to get to win a Super Bowl. A selection of Ramsey wouldn’t have negated the second point but I believe Dallas also selected Elliott with life after Romo in mind. As we saw in St. Louis last year, a bonafide elite running back such as Todd Gurley can allow an offense to function at some level with an incompetent quarterback. This has been the case for Minnesota with Adrian Peterson and Houston with Arian Foster for years now.
Elliott checked into the NFL combine with a 4.47 40 yard dash, a 32.5 inch vertical jump, and a 118 inch broad jump. Zeke is 20 years old, stands at 6′ 0″ tall and weighs in at 225 pounds with a 31 1/4″ wing span and 10 1/4″ hands. These measurables put him in the 93rd percentile for speed score and 84th percentile for 40 according to Player Profiler. Zeke had a 37.8% dominator rating at Ohio State which is amazing considering the depth of that teams talent. Zeke profiles as an every down back as he plays well in every aspect of running and has excellent pass protection skills. According to Pro Football Focus, Elliott was able to have a perfect pass blocking season as he allowed no sacks, hits, or a hurry on the 103 downs he was tasked with pass blocking. This bodes well for Elliot to be on the field early and often with the Cowboys as protecting Romo is going to be a top priority going forward.
Redraft – Elliott should come in and be an immediate contributor this season. I believe the Cowboys drafted him with the intention of using him a lot while using Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden as relief in hopes to keep all three healthy. Elliott should finish as a top 12 running back this year despite the hype that has already reached a fever pitch. He’ll be overdrafted by many this season because A, he’s a Cowboy and B, he’s being touted as the best running back of this generation. Elliott has the potential to be great, but even as a Cowboys fan I won’t be crowning him as the best until he’s finished doing so.
Draft Stock: Early 2nd would be the best place to get him, but you’ll likely have to take him in the back end of the first to get him.
Dynasty – In dynasty circles Elliott is going as the consensus 1.01 in rookie drafts. He’s a year younger than Todd Gurley was entering his first NFL season and his game is more rounded. He’s a full 4 years younger than Le’Veon Bell and he’s going to be playing behind the league’s best offensive line for the foreseeable future. He has perennial top 10 potential and could be huge for the next 3-5 years depending on workload and injuries.
Draft Stock: 1.01 in rookie drafts and 2nd – 3rd round startup value.