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Cowboys’ News: Where Does Ezekiel Elliott Rank Among NFL Running Backs?

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Lots of Cowboys headlines to check out.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Where Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott ranks among best NFL running backs - DMN Staff

Is he number one? These writers put him second. Guess he has to try harder in year two. Click the link for their top-10.

"He was great last year," Gramling said. "He also obviously benefits from the team he plays on and the offensive line he has. But separate from that, he was fantastic as a rookie."

"I said earlier in the show that Jordan Howard is the best all-around zone runner in the NFL -- I may have to temper that and say it's Ezekiel Elliott," Benoit said. "I think Elliott is a very good outside zone runner, which we've seen in Dallas -- the plant your foot and get up field. But he can run inside zone as well, which they can be similar anyway. They can be similar in that Dallas offense."

Sophomore slumps for Dak, Zeke? No worries, Cowboys Nation - Matt Mosely, DMN

Mosely does his weekly chat.

Question: Do you buy into the talk about a potential "sophomore slump" for Dak and Zeke's Cowboys?

Matt Mosley: I don't buy into that. They may not have the same numbers because teams make some adjustments to them, but they'll still be successful behind this offensive line. Folks forget that Zeke and Dak will both make adjustments, too. Dak feels like he's studying enough to offset any gains made by opposing DCs.

With Dak Prescott secured, could Zack Martin's deal look different? - Todd Archer - ESPN

Archer’s Five Wonders.

Dallas will gain $14 million in salary-cap room when Tony Romo’s release becomes official. I wonder whether the Cowboys will use that space on the extension they would like to give to Zack Martin. In the Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick contracts, their extensions were effectively cap-neutral. In other words, their cap numbers really did not increase over what they were scheduled to count that year based on the structure of the new deal. With Dak Prescott on a rookie deal for at least two more seasons before he can sign a megadeal, perhaps the Cowboys would look to front-load Martin’s deal so that, when Prescott’s bigger contract comes on the books, they are not as pressed.

With Doug Free gone, Dallas Cowboys' line looking to pass on knowledge - Todd Archer - ESPN

Cowboys’ O-linemen keep passing the torch. With three All-Pros still on the team, it makes it a bit easier, but Doug Free will be missed anyway.

“I just think he was the most consistent pro,” All-Pro guard Zack Martin said. “I think people don’t realize how much we’re going to miss him on and off the field. He was just the same guy every day. He came in, didn’t say much, went to work and then did it every day. He did it for 10 years.”

What Free learned came from Marc Colombo and Andre Gurode. They learned it from Flozell Adams and Larry Allen. They learned it from Nate Newton and Erik Williams.

Now the generational teachings are left to Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Martin. It’s up to them to teach it to La’el Collins, Jonathan Cooper, Joe Looney, Chaz Green, Byron Bell, Emmett Cleary and whoever else will call the Cowboys’ offensive line room home this season.

The Dallas Cowboys Are At The Intersection Of Youth And Stability - Tom Ryle, BtB

Will the Cowboys defensive turnover work this year? The Cowboys are banking on it.

But with the infusion of young players, they are also set up to succeed for years to come. Again, those new additions have to prove themselves, but if they do, they will be the core of this team into the 2020s. And there is every sign that the continuity on the coaching staff will also continue, as the Cowboys seem to have understudies on staff for their coordinators, with Wade Wilson prepping to step up if Scott Linehan moves on, and Matt Eberflus looking very much like the planned successor for Rod Marinelli. They may, of course, decide to move on - but so far, a combination of what is being built in Dallas and the deep pockets of Jerry Jones have kept them in the family.

This is just not a situation that comes along very often in this league, where stability and youth exist at the same time.

Why You Can’t Let Young QBs Learn from the Bench - Andy Benoit, SI

The Cowboys expected to break this trend with Dak Prescott, but a fluke pre-season injury to Tony Romo changed all that.

Every year we see NFL teams draft an unready quarterback in the first or second round, with the intention of having him learn from the bench as a rookie. The Bears (Mitchell Trubisky), the Texans (Deshaun Watson) and especially the Chiefs (Pat Mahomes) will toy with this idea in 2017. It’s a logical and admirable approach. Every team wants its guy to be like Aaron Rodgers emerging from Brett Favre’s shadow, turning an apprenticeship into stardom. The only problem: that never happens anymore.

Michigan writer on Taco Charlton's 'perfect combination', why Jourdan Lewis will outlast Jabrill Peppers in NFL - DMN Staff

This Michigan writer likes Jourdan Lewis. (I do too.)

How did he and Jabrill Peppers compare?

They played different positions this year but I've always thought highly of Jourdan and people always say "Who will have a longer NFL career?" I think Jourdan Lewis. His ceiling is so high. I know there's a knock on him for being shorter but I think he's shown over the last few years in particular how height is not an issue and he's a football-smart, savvy guy and doesn't let people make him feel like his height's a burden. It doesn't affect him and I've appreciated that about him.

Contract breakdowns for the 8 draft picks the Cowboys have signed - Jon Machota, DMN

Looks like NFL contracts are going up.

Cowboys first-round pick Taco Charlton's four-year deal is worth $10 million with $8.65 million guaranteed, according to OverTheCap.com. Last year's 28th overall pick, 49ers guard Joshua Garnett, received a four-year, $9.3 million deal with $7.58 million guaranteed.

Travis Frederick on how Dallas' new O-line group is trying to speak the same language - Kate Hairopoulus, DMN

Frederick takes questions from 4th graders.

"Things are really going well," Frederick said. "We have a lot of new guys, but those guys are veteran players, really there's only two rookies that are in there, two guys left over from minicamp. When you talk about that, it's a matter of molding things and shaping things instead of having to teach people new things.

"Guys are coming from different systems. You just got to figure out how to speak their language.

Cowboys Roster Breakdown: Where Is An Upgrade Still Needed? - Danny Phanton, BtB

There aren’t many holes in the Cowboys roster, according to Phantom.

Byron Jones is the starting free safety and that is pretty much all we know. Everything else will be determined on the field over the next three months. Will fan favorite Jeff Heath finally get his chance? Or will rookie Xavier Woods learn what he needs to know quick enough to land the job? These three will be on the roster, but after that it’s really tough to say. Second-year player Kavon Fraizer and veteran free agent Robert Blanton are two players that could sneak in at the bottom, but it wouldn’t take much to find a player that could jump in and replace them.

Undrafted RB Jahad Thomas Has Ample Opportunity To Earn A Roster Spot - David Helman, The Mothership

There won’t be many chances for UDFAs this year, but Thomas might find a role.

“The roster – this is one of the best fits,” he said. “I know, with losing Dunbar to the Rams, I had an opportunity to come in and fill that role as someone with his style of play.”

Standing at 5-10, Thomas is a bit taller than Dunbar, who served as the Cowboys’ third-down back for much of the past few years. Consider his college career, though, and the comparison makes sense.

10 Burning Questions: #9 - Can Dez Bryant Become A Cowboys’ Monster Again? - VAfan, BtB

What kind of season is Dez Bryant going to have?

In 2014, Dez led the NFL with 16 TD receptions, was eighth in receiving yards with 1,320, and averaged 15 yards per catch. His 14 AV tied him for fifth in the NFL with Julio Jones and Emmanuel Sanders. He only had one bad game that season, against Arizona.

With a full offseason knowing they are paired up, can Dak help Dez get back to that dominant play? That’s burning question number 9.