The rest of the world is finally ready to admit that Dallas’ Zeke Elliott is running on fumes - Criss Partee, Deadspin.com
Running back Ezekiel Elliott has taken a beating over the years carrying the load offensively for the Cowboys. However, as of late, he’s been taking a beating in the media for his steady decline in production. The situation with Elliott could be beyond the point of salvage.
Running on E-mpty
This day has been a long time coming. You could see some slippage with Elliott going back as far as 2020. Less explosiveness and lack of wiggles had begun to become apparent. Elliott had a bit of a bounce back in ‘21, hitting the 1,000-yard threshold, although it took him all 17 games to go over the mark by two yards. Paying a running back over $10 million a year to rush for 1,002 or fewer yards, which Elliott accomplished the past three years, is absurd in today’s NFL.
Any other team would cut its losses and move on from Elliott. But Jones can be loyal to a fault with some players, and sometimes it impedes their progress. We’re constantly hearing about how much Jones wants to win again. But his actions don’t always match that energy. They’ve held onto Zeke for too long, traded away Amari Cooper, and can’t ever figure out a way to sign star free agents (Von Miller) who want to play in Dallas.
Other teams figure ways around the salary cap, but Jones acts like he can’t do the same. Elliott has been done as a premier back for at least three years now, and it’s time to move on. If there is a way to work out something with his contract that frees up cap space for Dallas, that’s what needs to happen. But we’ve known for some time that Elliott is no longer that grind it out go to back in big-game situations. If the Cowboys believe Pollard is their main guy now, they need to roll with it and find a way out of paying Elliott so much toward the cap.
As the combine draws near, the Cowboys are preparing to have a closer look at the available prospects in this year’s draft. Given their recent struggles on the offensive side of the ball, they’ll certainly have a point of emphasis to replenish the talent in that department. Here are two positions, in particular, they’ll likely zero in on.
Look, I am not a fan of them drafting another running back, but we all know it has been a hot topic for the Cowboys and Jerry Jones.
If I had to pick someone for them to take it would be Texas star Bijan Robinson in the 2023 draft. He’s the top-ranked running back on the B/R board and one of the best prospects at his position we’ve seen in years.Another guy to watch would be former Tulane Running Back Tyjae Spears.
A very underrated back, Spears generated 229 carries for 1,581 yards and 19 touchdowns while hauling in 22 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns through 14 games for the Green Wave.
The Cowboys are in need of a wide receiver and the draft will have plenty of options for Dallas to look at, like North Carolina’s Josh Downs. Downs projects as a great slot receiver; if Michael Gallup can’t get back to form they should give Downs a look in the later rounds.
Downs has some of the most dependable hands in this class. Among 53 wide receivers last year with at least 100 targets, he ranked second in contested catch rate (72.2%) and logged the eighth-lowest drop rate.
Josh Jacobs, RBs Heading for Disappointment With NFL Free Agency Contracts - Maurice Moton, Bleacher Report
Tony Pollard is arguably the most explosive player on the Cowboys, which is why it was so deflating to see him leave the Cowboys playoff to the 49ers with a leg injury. As he heads to free agency, he’s not guaranteed the increase in pay many feel he deserves essentially adding insult to injury.
Per ESPN’s Todd Archer, Pollard underwent surgery and “should be full strength well before training camp.”
Even if Pollard makes a full recovery before the summer, teams may be hesitant to pay him the big bucks in March. No one has any idea how the running back’s road to recovery will pan out.
With that said, The Athletic’s Bob Sturm expects the Dallas Cowboys to franchise-tag Pollard, which seems like a practical move to keep their running back tandem together without handcuffing themselves to a long-term commitment.
By the way, Sturm believes running back Ezekiel Elliott could remain in Dallas on a reduced salary.
“I believe he has one option for employment above the league minimum and it is right here in Dallas,” Strum wrote about Elliott. “I could be wrong, but if I am, it is a very low number. Maybe one year for $2 million or $2.5 million which is a far cry from what he is used to.”
BTB’s own David Howman analyzes and provides deep insight into a fast riser in draft circles, Michigan’s Mazi Smith.
Footwork: Smith is very methodical with his feet, allowing him to gain leverage against even the best offensive linemen he goes up against. He keeps his feet moving too, which only makes it easier to use all of the power he has pent up in his massive frame.
Hand Technique: He is a mammoth of a man, and that’s evident in the way he uses his hands. Smith delivers a powerful punch and has a great sense of how to use it to drive linemen backwards. He’s not the most active with his hands, but some of that is because he causes so much disruption with his initial punch. It’s a good problem to have.
Pass Rush Moves: Smith didn’t have a ton of true pass rush reps at Michigan, which complicates his profile. Even on true pass plays, he was often taking on double teams because of his alignment. Still, when Smith did get to rush the passer, he showed promise. He is at his best when overpowering a lineman as a pass rusher, which happens frequently. He doesn’t have the most refined toolkit of pass rush moves, but again, that stems from his limited use in this facet of the game. The potential is there, though.
Lateral Agility: Going along with his methodical footwork, Smith is a fluid mover along the line of scrimmage when working laterally. With so much two-gap work, he had to be good in this area and he was. It helped him become an elite run defender.
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