Entering the league as the fourth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, running back Ezekiel Elliott was one hot commodity. The entire state of Texas saw a young star blossom and he really took the entire league by storm. In his first year in the league, Elliott led the NFL in rushing with 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. Elliott’s 2016 season was one of the most dominant performances from a first-year running back the league has ever seen.
In 2017, things changed drastically. On the field, Elliott was still showing he was one of the best running backs in the game, but after the domestic violence allegations, the St. Patricks Day situation, and reports of Elliott striking a man at a DFW bar, there was a sense of panic surrounding the Cowboys star running back and the decisions he was making off the field.
As you know, Elliott was handed a six-game suspension by the league during training camp last season. Elliott and his team fought the suspension for months and won quite a few times. Through all the appeals, restraining orders, court appearances, and the day-to-day grind of being a professional football player, the stress was starting to weigh on Zeke. In Amazon’s series All or Nothing, Elliott was showing how much the fight was affecting his play on the field and his mental preparation week in and week out. In the series, the film highlighted Elliott sleeping in on multiple occasions, not showing the effort the coaches wanted in practices, and just being completed exhausted both mentally and physically. Even after the stressful season for Zeke, he had a pretty decent year given the circumstances. Elliott finished the year with 983 rushing yards, seven touchdowns, and still led the league in average rushing yards per game (98.3).
In 2018, Ezekiel Elliott is looking for a fresh start entering his third-year in the league. Elliott’s offseason so far has been very quiet, which is very good for both the team and the player. When “googling” the name Ezekiel Elliott, you’ll see articles titled “The ‘Fantasy Footballers’ Podcast says Ezekiel Elliott is a top-5 overall player”, “Ezekiel Elliott headlines second annual National Fantasy Football Convention”, and “Cowboys 2018 over/under: 1,750 rushing yards for Ezekiel Elliott”. All of these articles have one thing in common, they are all positive reviews of Elliott, and the words breaking, suspension, or investigation aren’t attached to any of them.
The third-year running back turns 23 on July 22nd, which is just two days before the team leaves for Oxnard, California for training camp. Ezekiel Elliott needs to be smart over the next few weeks, because the Cowboys need him to be fully prepared to put the team on his back and carry the Dallas Cowboys back to the playoffs in 2018. So far, so good for the third-year running back, and all signs point to Zeke maturing off the field.
But just in case, let’s all knock on wood after reading this.