One of the more interesting draft picks that the Cowboys made this offseason was at a position where they were sorely in need, running back.
The Cowboys have Ezekiel Elliott on their team (although there are people worried about his future status thanks to an ongoing NFL investigation) so it’s not like running back is a huge need, right? Kind of. Obviously the run game is Zeke’s show, but it would be nice if the team could find a way for him to not have a ridiculous amount of carries. The fresher he stays, the better the team’s chances of success.
Tony Pollard is a guy that can spell Elliott in the way many have been hoping for. The former Memphis runner is a do it all sort of player, and many have started comparing his game to that of New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. That’s a lofty comparison, but if Pollard comes anywhere near that then it means the Cowboys have had a lot of success offensively and that what Kellen Moore wants to do is working.
The legendary Gil Brandt (who will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in two months by the way) took a stab at predicting season totals for a few rookie runners recently. He’s quite high on new Chicago Bears running back David Montgomery, but he certainly also thinks a lot of Pollard.
Projected stats: 115 carries, 512 rushing yards, 5 rush TDs, 35 catches.
Drafted: No. 128, Round 4.
From Week 10 of last season to the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 75-plus yards in eight straight games, putting up 111.4 rushing yards per game in that span. While Elliott has not shown that he’s one to suffer late-season declines, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to lessen the burden on the one person in the NFL to log more than 1,000 total touches over the last three seasons combined. This is where Pollard will come in. While he had limited opportunities playing alongside Darrell Henderson at Memphis, his style of play has drawn comparisons to Alvin Kamara. Consider Pollard’s line at the Tigers’ bowl game: With Henderson out, Pollard put up 109 rushing yards on 17 carries (6.4 yards per carry). Pollard can also be a factor as a returner; last season, he returned 27 kicks for 667 yards and a score.
Interestingly, Pollard’s Memphis teammate Darrell Henderson is also now backing up a top ball-carrier as he now plays for the Los Angeles Rams behind Todd Gurley. Mr. Brandt has Pollard exceeding Henderson’s 2019 totals, and if Pollard truly does put together over 500 yards with five scores, that is going to be a great return for the Cowboys.
Of course, we’re all operating under the assumption that Ezekiel Elliott will still get his. Zeke has led the league in rushing in two of his three seasons in the NFL (he likely would have in all three had he played every game); if Pollard is eating 500 yards then perhaps Zeke’s plate may have a little less yardage on it.
It’s certainly a lot of fun to see Elliott lead the league in rushing, but that’s not the priority. As he is a player who can drastically impact the offense and the success that the team has, it’s important for him to be ready in December, January, and hopefully February.
The Tony Pollard hype train is starting to pick up steam. You better get on it.