[After an incredible rise from worst to first in 2016 that saw the Cowboys ride the backs of two outstanding rookie campaigns to 13-3 and a changing of the guard, we have to examine the roster. From 1 to 53, we only have one question?
Have the Dallas Cowboys improved?]
Moving right along, we now have our eyes on the running back position. Did they find improvement for 2017?
Ezekiel Elliott (started 15 games, 322 carries, 1,631 rushing yards, 15 rushing TDs, 1 rec. TD, All-Pro selection, Pro Bowl, rushing title)
Alfred Morris (played 14 games, 69 carries, 243 rushing yards, 3.5 YPC, two TDs, inactive after week 15)
Lance Dunbar (played 13 games, nine carries, 31 rushing yards, 3.4 YPC, one TD, 16 rec., 122 Rec. yards, signed one-year, $1.5M deal with Rams)
Darren McFadden (started on NFI- Elbow, one start (week 17), three games, 24 carries, 87 rushing yards, 3.6 YPC)
Darius Jackson (drafted in sixth round, waived on December 15th)
FB Keith Smith (played 16 games, two carries, and five rushing yards)
FB Rod Smith (played seven games, mainly special teams)
Jahad Thomas (UDFA from Temple, played 12 games, 207 carries, 953 rushing yards, 13 rush TDs, 418 rec. yards, and six rec. TDs in 2016)
FB Keith Smith
FB Rod Smith
For the Cowboys, the plan is to have Zeke handle the load and spell him whenever needed. Hopefully, the Cowboys find a way to get him even more involved instead of taking him off the field on third downs. It’s hard to even visualize a time when Zeke shouldn’t be on the field but you also don’t want to run him until his tongue is hanging out. Elliott is arguably the best player on the team and he’s only going to get better in his second season.
Both McFadden and Morris are on the wrong side of their 20’s but McFadden is a solid backup running back. He’s a complete back in terms of what the Cowboys like to do on offense and he pretty much relegated Alfred Morris to the bench. Speaking of Morris, we’re not so sure that he’s even going to remain on the roster when the cut to 53 occurs.
Though the fullback position isn’t as valued around the league, the Cowboys love the skill set that Keith Smith brings to the table. He’s also a very good special teams player and has experience at linebacker. Rod Smith is not likely to survive the cut to 53 unless Rich Bisaccia lobbies for him.
Jahad Thomas is an interesting pickup as he fits that role of the scat back that the Cowboys value in their running back room. Thomas is awfully small but so are guys like Darren Sproles, if he’s tough enough, he could be a solid addition with great potential. Still, making the roster isn’t a lock for Thomas as Dallas may decide to go with the three vets and one full back.
Conclusion: Adding a young running back like Thomas is intriguing and preseason will show what he’s capable of. He’ll have to prove that he’s able to carve out a role for himself on this team but he’s looking up at stiff veteran competition. The answer to improvement here is likely a no but it’s not like they really needed much improvement at this position. They have one of the NFL’s brightest stars leading the pack.
Did the Dallas Cowboys improve at running back in 2017?
This poll is closed