Dallas Cowboys Rumors: Team Could Target Ezekiel Elliott With No. 4 Pick, Bucking Conventional Running Back Wisdom

The Dallas Cowboys are rumored to be interested in Ezekiel Elliott, seizing their opportunity at the top of the draft to find a franchise running back again.

The Cowboys saw their running game plummet back to earth in 2015 after the departure of DeMarco Murray, but will now likely have a chance to take the top running back in the draft class. The return of Tony Romo from injury will give the Cowboys a small window for title contention before they have to go looking for a new franchise quarterback.

That may have the Cowboys bucking the traditional wisdom not to reach for a running back too early in the draft. While it was once common for top backs to be taken high in the first round, the overall value of running backs has fallen as their careers have shortened and zone blocking schemes have raised the value of later-round or even undrafted backs.

As the SB Nation site Blogging the Boys noted, the Dallas Cowboys may be looking to go outside the box by selecting Ezekiel Elliott.
"I hear a lot of fans and media saying that basically any back can run behind this o-line and it is waste of resources to invest in an elite back when you can get 1,100 yards from the likes of DMC. Last year, both here and in Philly, went a long ways to settling the question of whether 2014 success was due more to the RB or the o-line. So I can understand this argument.

"But the other way of looking at it is that since we have invested so much in an elite o-line, the best way to make the most of that investment is to have an elite RB behind them. The combination of an elite o-line and RB together maximizes the value of both. This offense is complete in every other position (except backup QB!). It makes sense to me to draft o-line in the first round 3 out of 4 years, and then draft a complete and dynamic back to take advantage of it."

Ezekiel Elliott also brings value beyond his running. He's also an exceptional pass-catcher and blocker, a very important aspect as the team tries to protect Tony Romo.

There will be plenty of other interest in Elliott if the Cowboys pass, with the Miami Dolphins a potential landing spot for the Ohio State running back.

Whatever happens, the Dallas Cowboys will likely look to improve their running game. Darren McFadden is seen as a competent back and a decent fit for the offense, but isn't exceptional by any stretch. There were rumors the Cowboys might try to swing a trade for DeMarco Murray, who led the league while with the Cowboys in 2014 but struggled last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, leading him to ask for a trade. But that possibility was slammed shut when the Eagles sent him to the Tennessee Titans instead.

There are some other rumors about what the Dallas Cowboys could do with their No. 5 draft pick, most of them not involving Ezekiel Elliott. There are many who believe the Cowboys will go after one of the top pass-rushers, and could wait until the second round to look for a running back. There is some belief that Derrick Henry could still be available, though if Dallas is truly out for a franchise back they will likely grab Ezekiel Elliott with their top pick.

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