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NFL Draft Grades: "The winners of the night are ... the Dallas Cowboys."

A review of the draft grades the Cowboys have received so far for their first-round pick.

Grading a draft a mere hours after after the last pick is generally frowned on by the more hardcore football fan who knows that drafts can't really be graded until three to four years after the fact. But like the site of an accident, many people also find it hard not to look once such a grade is published.

If the review is good, you cling to it and hope that it will carry over onto the field when the season starts. If it is bad, you can simply shrug it off and say it doesn't matter anyway and post-draft grades are for the feeble-minded.

Regardless, what the grades do is - to some extent - they capture the general feeling about a draft immediately after it is over. In this post, we'll look at seven writers who have submitted their grades for the Cowboys already. And we'll kick it off with Adam Schein of, who doesn't offer a grade, but calls the Cowboys the winners of the night.

Yes, the Cowboys won the NFL draft by selecting the running back fourth overall.

The Ohio State product is an instant-impact star who will provide immediate and needed balance for quarterback Tony Romo. Remember the 2014 season, when Dallas had a running back by the name of DeMarco Murray win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award? That was also the most efficient year of Romo's career, with the QB notching personal highs in passer rating (113.2) and completion rate (69.9 percent).

Elliott is a three-down star; running behind the Cowboys' strong offensive line, he becomes my way-too-early pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Coming from the high-profile Buckeyes program, Elliott won't be blinded by the bright lights of playing for America's Team. And as a bonus, he'll help the Dallas defense by keeping that unit off the field.

On to the grades:

Cowboys Draft Grades 2016
Doug Farrar,


This is a natural pick for the Cowboys, because they have the best run-blocking line in the league, but they haven’t been able to replace DeMarco Murray’s production. Elliott is comparable to LaDainian Tomlinson because he runs so well between the tackles, he’s shifty outside and he’s a tremendous blocker. Like Tomlinson did after his stint at TCU, Elliott can also blossom into a top-notch receiver. Not that he needs huge gaps to make things happen, but he’s going to get them running behind this line, and we could be talking about a future rushing champ here. Elliott will define the Cowboys’ offense through the end of the Romo era and beyond.
Dan Kadar, SB Nation


There's no mistaking that Elliott is one of the draft's best players. He's a complete running back who can do everything. But this is high for a running back, especially when you have Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden on the roster. Sure, they're not world beaters or superstars like Elliott, but having them is a waste of money. Still, Elliott should be the Offensive Rookie of the Year front runner. With Elliott along with quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant, they have their new Triplets.
Chad Reuter,


I love Elliott as a player. There's always concern when a running back is taken early in the draft, however, because of attrition at the position.
Steven Ruiz, USA Today


Drafting a running back this high is always a risk, but Elliott is a complete back who will eat behind the best offensive line in the NFL. He’s much more than a runner, too, which is a big reason why the Cowboys took a chance on him. He’s great in pass protection and a threat out the backfield. Elliott will be the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and should have the Cowboys back in the playoffs next season.
Eric Edholm, Shutdown Corner


Presented a situation they might not have expected given the pick before, the Cowboys still took the player that team owner Jerry Jones has been rumored to be in love with for months. There was an internal debate over which player fit best here, but the Cowboys now have the most well-rounded RB prospect in years operating behind the league's best offensive line. Good luck with that, NFC East. This could help extend Tony Romo's career a year or two. Again, no Ramsey?
Long Ball, Drafttek


OK, I agree; if the offense controls the ball, the defense is on the field for fewer plays . . . but if Dallas doesn't address defense for the next few picks, the opposing offense won't have to be on the field for many plays as they may score quickly. A trade-down could have still netted Elliott . . . great player but a mis-use of resources.
Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report


Elliott will be a blast to watch and a nightmare to defend behind the Cowboys offensive line. The problem is that Elliott may be overkill. The difference between him and a committee won't matter much if the Cowboys are allowing 30 points per game.
Arthur Arkush, Pro Football Weekly

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And the Cowboys nab Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4, the highest back selected since Trent Richardson in 2012. I had Elliott to Dallas in my final mock and think he's going to be beastly, especially behind the best O-line in football, which made DeMarco Murray one of the most productive rushers in NFL history two years ago and helped revive Darren McFadden last season. But Dallas wisely realized McFadden is unlikely to hold up for another full season. Sure, the Cowboys have myriad holes on 'D,' but that's the beauty of picking Elliott — the more he's on the field moving the chains, the less that defense and aging Tony Romo are exposed. Ramsey would've been a great pick, but Elliott can impact the Cowboys more right away.
Vinny Iyer, Sporting News

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Not many teams would have been willing to splurge on a three-down back with no weakness at No. 4 overall, but the Cowboys should thank Jerry Jones for falling in love with such a special runner. He's not as purely explosive as Todd Gurley, but Elliott is a complete power and speed back who will keep bursting through big holes opened by Dallas' elite run-blocking line.

Now that you've had a night to sleep over it, how do you feel about the pick?


Here's how the Cowboys' grades compare to the Rest of the NFC East

NFC East Draft Grades 2016
Cowboys Eagles Giants Redskins A A B A+
SB Nation B+ B C B B+ C C A
USA Today B+ C D A
Shutdown Corner B+ B C- B+
Drafttek B A B A-
Bleacher Report C C+ B+ A


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