When the Dallas Cowboys drafted running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth pick in the 2016 draft, there were rumblings that it was a good value choice. Not because Elliott isn’t talented, but because of the idea that you just don’t draft a running back that high anymore. Plus, with the Cowboys uber-talented offensive line, the thought went that any back could do damage running in this offense. The questioning of the pick has faded into history now, Elliott has taken the league by storm, and not just as a runner. He’s a complete back - runner, receiver and pass protector.
As such, he’s winning every mid-season rookie award and some of the offensive player awards.
Fan-voted ESPN NFL Live Award:
Offensive Player of the Year (Non-QB)— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 26, 2016
Offensive Rookie of the Year— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) October 27, 2016
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ike Taylor: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys. Most people will look at him as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he's having a good enough season to win this one.
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Gil Brandt: Elliott. On track to challenge Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record, Elliott is a complete back who catches and blocks at a championship level, and he leads the NFL in total rushing yards and runs of 20-plus yards.
Brian Billick: Elliott. He could also win the Offensive Player of the Year, so he surely has to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Colleen Wolfe: Elliot. Ezekiel Elliot is like a super athletic Demogorgon. He's scary, almost impossible to defend and can easily propel himself though people and walls. (Poor Darren McFadden is probably in the Upside Down with Barb.)
Marcas Grant: Elliott. Dak Prescott has been a nice story, but Elliott is being mentioned in the same sentence with Eric Dickerson. This could be an all-time rookie running back season.
First-Half Offensive Rookie of the Year
Kelly: Elliott. He has lived up to the hype and then some. The fourth overall pick is leading all NFL rushers with 114.1 yards per game, has scored five touchdowns, and looks every bit the capstone piece to the foundational running game that Dallas has been building for the past five years.
Mays: Elliott. Yes, the Dallas line is fantastic, but Elliott is on pace for 1,826 yards, and that’s hard to discount no matter the circumstances. Elliott’s teammate Dak Prescott also has a claim to the award, but Sunday night’s win over the Eagles — in which neither Prescott nor the line played particularly well — gave Elliott the edge in my mind.
Elliott also played four games in October and his efforts leave him as the NFL’s top rusher halfway through the season. Elliott ran 88 times for 525 yards, providing the Cowboys with exactly the kind of production they were looking for when they made him their top draft choice and helping them win all four games they played during the month.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has done more than expected alongside Elliott on Dallas’ offense, which has raised hopes of a lot more wins to come as their careers unfold.