Ezekiel Elliott is in elite company for a running back through first four NFL seasons



NFL Pro Bowl

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Feed Zeke.

On Thursday, we saw Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott take to Twitter to voice his displeasure regarding some of the lack of respect that he has received from some media and Madden ratings lately. Elliott has been among the best backs in the game since his rookie season, but he feels as if he is now being overlooked.

Madden recently ranked Elliott as the fourth best running back in the league at 92 overall, behind Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and Nick Chubb. One NFL coach, meanwhile, ranked Zeke outside the top-10 running backs in the league.

Even within the Cowboys, Zeke has been somewhat overlooked within the offense. Many are looking forward to seeing how much Mike McCarthy elevates the passing attack with Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. Others are anticipating the rise of Blake Jarwin, and some are calling for more plays designed for Tony Pollard.

We are now in era where running backs matter less than ever before. The NFL has trended more and more towards a passing league, and we are seeing quarterbacks paid at all-time levels. Running backs, meanwhile, have seen their stock drop tremendously. In fact, the Cowboys were questioned when taking Zeke in the top-5 and then, of course, paying him before his rookie contract expired.

Regardless of where you stand on the importance of running backs argument, it is clear that Elliott is one of the best at the position across the league. Elliott may not have the same explosion or big-play ability as he did in year-one, but he is still a threat that defenses have to account for. The Ohio State product has also been a strong blocker and has flashed at times as a receiver in limited opportunities.

The Cowboys’ running back was recently ranked as the third best running back in the NFL in a poll from ESPN that included input from NFL personnel, trailing only the PanthersMcCaffrey and the GiantsSaquon Barkley. It is very difficult to argue against the top-2 backs being McCaffrey and Barkley at this point.

That said, Elliott is in rare company regarding running backs during their first four seasons in the National Football League. According to CBS Sports, Elliott is one of three players to have at least 7K yards from scrimmage, 40 touchdowns, and 150 receptions before their fifth season — and Elliott, of course, missed six games due to suspension in 2017.

LaDainian Tomlinson and Terrell Davis are certainly great company to be in. Both are Hall of Fame-caliber backs that impacted the game in a number of ways. Elliott has certainly made an impact with the Cowboys during the early stages of his professional career.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore utilize Elliott more in the passing game. McCarthy used Ty Montgomery in a number of ways while leading the Packers. Though Elliott is a different style of player than Montgomery, he still appears has some untapped potential as a pass catcher.

The NFL season is still a bit in the air with the uncertainty of COVID-19, but here’s hoping we get to see Zeke feed on defenses in 2020.





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