Don’t look now, but we are just about a week and a half away from the kickoff of the big event of the offseason, the 2022 NFL Draft. All of the pent-up excitement and frustration trying to figure out who the Dallas Cowboys will select with the No. 24 pick in the first-round will finally come to a head, but how Day 2 and 3 ends up playing out will take a little longer.
With the majority of the Cowboys draft talk focusing on their first-round pick, and rightfully so, there hasn’t been as much discussion about how they will utilize their other eight remaining draft picks in rounds 2-6. We all know they need help at numerous positions, but running back doesn’t seem to be at the top of the list, or is it? Both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard 2022 could be in their last year with the Cowboys.
For Tony Pollard, he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Considering his usage up until this point of his career with the Cowboys, it’s probably safe to say he will sign elsewhere as a free agent next year. And, as far as Ezekiel Elliott is concerned, he could possibly be released at the conclusion of the 2022 season.
The way Zeke’s contract to set up there is an out for the Cowboys in 2023. If Dallas wants to move on from him in 2023, it would hit their salary cap for roughly $12 million and save them roughly $5 million in space. They could also designate him a post-June 1 cut, spreading that cap hit over two years and eventually saving them almost $11 million.
With all that in mind, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the Cowboys spend a draft pick on a running back in the 2022 NFL Draft who could potentially take over next season as their RB1. The most likely scenario is using a Day 3 pick on a RB, like they did when they selected Tony Pollard 128th overall a few years ago.
The 2022 RB draft class is a pretty deep one and there are a number of prospects the Cowboys could target in the later rounds in the hopes of developing one of them into a future starter. That kind of forward thinking isn’t at all a bad idea. However, if they choose not to address the position this year, the 2023 RB draft class is absolutely loaded.
The way it looks now, the 2023 running back draft class has an embarrassment of riches the Cowboys could tap into if they are planning on moving on from both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard after the conclusion of the 2022 season. There are number of impact, three-down prospects that can be found even as late as on Day 3. Headlining the group is Texas RB Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs, the Georgia Tech to Alabama transfer.
Both Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs could be competing with one another to be the Heisman winner in 2022. Both are extremely talented and should have huge seasons this year, but there are others worth keeping an eye on as well…
- Tank Bigsby, Auburn
- Zach Charbonnet, UCLA
- Sean Tucker, Syracuse
- Zach Evans, Ole Miss
- Mohammed Ibramih, Minnesota
- Eric Gray, Oklahoma
- Kendall Milton, Georgia
- Devon Achane, Texas A&M
- Blake Corum, Michigan
- Deuce Vaugh, Kansas State
With such an impressive RB draft class waiting for the Cowboys in 2023, it’s really going to be interesting to see if they use any draft capital on the position this year. But, even if they do, they could easily replace the Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard tandem with another that is equally impressive, or something close to it, almost immediately if they choose to do so starting this year and adding to it the next.