It happened! Ezekiel Elliott is a Dallas Cowboy. After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, the Cowboys number four pick has finally been made. After years of building an offensive line, the team now has the best collegiate ball carrier to run behind them. It's a match made in heaven and will add another dynamic playmaker to this offense. He's got excellent vision with the ability to explode in space. He also has the toughness to get the dirty yards after contact. Elliott does so many things well and is the hands-down best running back, and there's not even a close second.
With the addition of Zeke, this shakes up for the Cowboys running back situation. The free agent signing of Alfred Morris gives the Cowboys a duo that can wear down defenses. Elliott can come along and fly through the lanes, Morris can give some rest to the new Cowboy and take plenty of snaps early in the season. As Zeke gets more acclimated with the offense, he should take on a larger role as the season progresses. It's going to be a great running back tandem.
This pick also means Darren McFadden's days in Dallas could be numbered. The Cowboys could cut McFadden loose with only a $100,000 dead money hit. Or, if there are any lingering issues with Lance Dunbar's knee, the Cowboys could cut him loose. The team definitely has options as Elliott can do so many things well that he can fill several different roles. But the biggest role he'll fill is that of the feature back of the Cowboys in what we can expect will be one wild ride.
Elliott's measurables in the form of a spider graph, courtesy of the folks at Mockdraftable.com:
Let's see what our panel of scouts has to say about the newest Cowboy:
Lance Zielein (NFL.com)
Elite combination of vision and decisiveness. Instinctive, short strider with instant reaction time. Has a bona fide jump-cut to elude penetration in the backfield and enough burst to elude chasers when he bounces runs to the outside. Able to change directions with no hesitation or wasted motion and is always headed forward. Has innate feel for developing blocks in space and is excellent at setting his blocks up and accelerating from behind them when the linebacker is trapped. When it's gridlocked inside, finds yards on his own. Rocked up physique but still maintains loose hips for agility. Exceptional balance through contact and takes tacklers for a ride. Has a "come at me, bro!" mentality as a runner. Loves to end runs on his physical terms. Uses lead shoulder as a weapon, but plays with outstanding ball security. Looks to absolutely bludgeon defenders as a lead blocker and is often successful. Able pass catcher who adjusts to throws and can do something with it after the catch.
Strapped it up with a heavy workload over last two seasons including over 600 touches. Defenders land big shots on him. Appears to be too willing to put himself through the meat grinder rather than avoiding certain collisions. Understanding when to attack and when to elude may take time for him. Can sharpen his pass routes a bit and has room for improvement as a pass blocker. On second level, gets on top of defenders before he has a chance to gather himself into a position to evade a tackle. Questions arose about his maturity after complaining about lack of carries in Michigan State game.
Dane Bugler (CBS Sports)
STRENGTHS: Elliott is extremely well-rounded as a runner with ideal size for the position along with coordinated footwork that is always in sync with his eyes. He runs with natural pad level and fantastic forward lean, using his balance, leg drive and relentless fight to move the chains and pick up every inch he can. Plays with a strong intensity for the game.
Elliott is at his best on counter run plays, stopping on a dime and transitioning his weight to shoot through holes and dart through the second level of the defense. He displays outstanding vision to quickly read blocks and rarely runs with hesitation, bouncing away from would-be tacklers without slowing down.
WEAKNESSES: Elliott needs to become more consistent as a receiver and needs refinement as a blocker, but it's tough to find weaknesses in his run style, which is why he could projects as one of the top running backs and a likely first-round pick in the 2016 class.
Cowboys fans were relatively split regarding Elliott or Jalen Ramsey. Only time will tell if the Cowboys got this one right, but one thing is for sure - there will be no shortage of excitement for Cowboys fans in 2016!