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Draft analysis: Cowboys land ultra versatile running back in Tony Pollard

The Cowboys have a new backup running back.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft started out with many talented players left on the board, but it didn’t take long for that list to dwindle. The Dallas Cowboys waited patiently to get their guy and in the end - they picked Memphis running back Tony Pollard. The team was looking for a guy to help alleviate the workload from Ezekiel Elliott. With Zeke still expected to dominate the touches, the team waited until the third day to grab their guy and even then, they took a unique role-playing guy that isn’t going to cut into Elliott’s reps very much, which let’s be honest - that’s what the team prefers. It’s Zeke, more Zeke, and then a little later - even more Zeke.

Pollard brings with him a lot of versatility. Not only will he make a good backup running back, but he’s a special teams ace. He was used as a kick returning where he ran it back for touchdowns seven times. He’s also a two-time AAC special teams player of the year.

On offense, Pollard can line up everywhere and be a nice offensive tool if used properly. He can even be used as a slot receiver with natural hands and is very elusive after the catch. In college, he averaged 9.2 yards per touch. This is useful considering he won’t be taking many reps away from Ezekiel Elliott in the running game. Pollard has good vision and knows how to read his blocks.

While Pollard is a nice change of pace/gadget guy, he isn’t the typical every down back. He works well in read-option where he use his patience to hit the hole. He’s not a physical bruiser, but he brings with him a lot of momentum which makes him hard to bring down when he has a good head of steam. Pollard needs work in pass protection as he doesn’t plant and power down on his defenders. He moves well and can be useful as a run blocker which is a trait the Cowboys covet from their skill position players.

Last week, we identified Pollard as a possible Day 3 pick:

Tony Pollard, Memphis

Pollard was used in all kinds of ways and will be a nice gadget player for any team. He’s a good receiving back and excelled as a kick returner. Unfortunately, when it comes to the running back position, Pollard is rather vanilla. He doesn’t have the burst, but his vision is decent and he’s able to make enough people miss.

Pollard won’t be able to step in and be the bell cow should Zeke miss significant time, but he’ll make a nice change of pace back. Should the Cowboys miss out on a running back early, Pollard could make a nice end-of-draft option.

Pollard isn’t a guy that’s easy to get excited about. He’s a muscular guy that has pretty good speed in the open field. He’s a wait-and-burst type of runner and he’ll fit well with the Cowboys running scheme. With all his traits, he offers the team a versatile weapon and he’s a high character guy. On paper, he’s not going to be a favorite of many, but he’s got so many attributes that works for what this team is trying to do. It’s a total Cowboys pick so I guess we’ll see what Kellen Moore can do with him.

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