Despite being drafted 4th overall in the 2016 NFL draft, Ezekiel Elliott is working with the second team while Darren McFadden takes the first team reps.
Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is having to compete to earn a starting job this year, according to running backs coach Gary Brown. Elliott was the big man on campus at Ohio State, but learned fast that this isn’t the Big-10.
“It’s a lot faster pace,’ Elliott said. “The game moves so much faster. Yesterday, I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit shell-shocked. But today I came out. I was a little bit more prepared and was more ready mentally so it was a little bit easier for me.”
Many analysts spoke of the Cowboys decision to draft Ezekiel Elliott 4th overall as brilliant because they believe it will help the defense as well. There are a handful of analysts such as myself that firmly believe the best way to help the defense was to draft an impact player on day one. Our in-house favorite, Keith Marshall was drafted by the Redskins in the 7th round. The 4.31 speed he displayed at the NFL combine gives him a significant edge over Ezekiel Elliott. Per an article on the Redskins official website, Marshall has been explosive in OTA’s.
- The running back corps was headed up by veteran Matt Jones but Mack Brown, Robert Kelley and Keith Marshall all saw plenty of touches. Jones showed his usual bruising style (as much as he can during non-contact drills) fighting for yards up the gut and convincingly selling the play action. He flashed some impressive pass-catching with an over-the-shoulder snag from Cousins and then executed a perfect spin move to avoid oncoming defenders for about a 13-yard gain.
- Rookie RB Keith Marshall displayed an impressive ability to stay small and squeeze through running lanes. His explosive speed helped him find his way into the secondary or around the edge often. Gruden mentioned Wednesday that the team would look to keep four or five running backs on the game day roster, so Marshall could be a name to watch.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the former 5 star recruit will finally be healthy enough to show the world why he was the #1 ranked running back in the nation when he joined Todd Gurley at Georgia. Due to an unfortunate injury early in his career, he never got an opportunity to shine. Roger Craig was quoted as saying that had it not been for his injury, he would have been the 1st overall pick in the draft. It has been our contention, that had he not sustained the injury, he would have been ranked where Ezekiel Elliott was. In my opinion, the Redskins got much better value.
We are not alone in our belief that Ezekiel Elliott was nothing more than a luxury pick at 4 and the fact that he is working with the 2nd team offense raises some red flags.
SportsDay Analyst Bob Sturm isn’t so sure that Ezekiel Elliott was a legitimate need for the Cowboys at No 4.. Here’s what he said when he reviewed Elliott’s tape:
“We happen to know a team that seems to have RB pretty unresolved right now, but it would seem foolish to spend a first-round pick in three out of four drafts on offensive linemen only to then invest even more heavily in the RB behind them. The whole point in making huge bids on Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, and Travis Frederick (and then paying them all handsomely) was that they could make the RB position more of a disposable asset and roll over any college talent at a minimal price. This would contradict the entire build in my opinion.”
“I like him a lot, but for me, the Cowboys have already invested heavily in a powerful running game. They need a young and talented RB, but the draft shows those guys can be found every season in the top 100 (Rounds 2-3). Let someone else spend for one in the top 10. The Cowboys need investment in too many other areas of their roster to afford this luxury item.”
I have to agree with Sturm, and in my humble opinion, the 4th overall pick in the draft should be a day one impact player, not running with the second team offense. I will be keeping my eye on Keith Marshall. Especially since he was drafted to potentially replace Alfred Morris. Let’s just hope that Marshall doesn’t run over our defense like Morris has done in the past. Keep in mind, Morris was also a late round pick.