Over the next couple months there will be extensive discussions about who the Cowboys first round pick should be. The front office has been lights-out fantastic when it comes to their first-round selections with five of their last seven picks being All Pro players. And two of those All Pros have been selected in the last three drafts and achieved their All Pro status their rookie seasons. Zack Martin accomplished this in 2014 and then Ezekiel Elliott did it again last season. Being rookie standouts aren’t the only similarity between these two. Both picks came with a lot of criticism as draft pundits had different players penciled in for the Cowboys when their spot came up. Last season, the great debate centered around two remarkable collegiate athletes – Zeke and Jalen Ramsey.
The Cowboys finally ended the suspense on draft day by selecting the Ohio State running back sensation with the fourth-overall pick. And they haven’t looked back since.
Elliott was a remarkable choice. While it wasn’t hard to see how talented he was, it was exhilarating to watch him put in on display within the Cowboys offense. Elliott broke franchise rookie records left and right. In just his first season, he finished with the fifth-highest rushing output of any Cowboys player with 1,631 yards. And he scored the fourth-most rushing touchdowns in Cowboys history with 15. Only the great touchdown magpie, Emmitt Smith, had seasons with more. And he’s just getting started.
Recently, WFAA sat down and talked to Zeke’s mother and asked her how does he build on such an incredible start? Her response…
“He needs to run for 2,000 yards next season”
Silly moms and their outlandish predictions. Only this declaration doesn’t seem that absurd. Let’s do some quick math here.
Zeke averaged 5.1 yards per carry last season. If you couple that per carry production with the same workload that DeMarco Murray got in 2014, Elliott would finish with 1,999 yards on the season. Of course, it would be highly unlikely to see him getting his tape cut in Week 17 if he is close to eclipsing such an incredible mark.
Elliott’s rookie totals would have been higher had he played in the regular season finale. They also would have been higher if he didn’t get off to a slow start. Yes, he was still a rookie and had to learn some patience and build chemistry with his offensive line. During the first two games of his career, he only averaged 67 yards. But once he started allowing the holes to open up and found the creases, he went on a tear. Over the next four games he averaged over 140 yards per game.
Expect more big games from Elliott in 2017 versus games where he will be shut down. To reach the 2,000 yard mark, he’ll need to rush for an average of 125 yards a game. He has the skill to make the big runs and he will certainly have plenty of opportunities. The Cowboys offense had the most rushing attempts of any team in the league last season and they will continue to be a run-heavy team. Don’t expect that to change any time soon.
As talented as Elliott is, one of the most exciting things about him is his drive. Instilled in him as a child, he loves to compete. Both his parents were extremely athletic, including his mother who was a track star. His parents were committed to his education and has exhibited great family values as they helped him reach his athletic goals. In just watching the above video, you can see why this kid has so much fire in him and is so dedicated to his craft. He’s got big plans.
There’s no denying that Zeke can be a goofball. He showed up to the draft in a crop top, he jumped in the kettle, he chased down a crazed fan at the Pro Bowl, and he regularly reminds those watching that he needs the ball with his “feed me” gesture. But as much fun as he loves to have, he’s has an overwhelming desire to compete. Just ask his coach.
Zeke’s getting to 2,000 yards. Whether it happens in 2017 or the year after, it’s coming. His mother said so and that’s good enough for me. Never question a women’s intuition.