Yesterday here at Inside The Star, I outlined the future for the NFC East in this upcoming draft by framing the question “Can the Cowboys Still Afford to Take a Quarterback at #4?”. With three of the division’s four teams selecting in the top 10, it’s now far more likely that Dallas brings in someone that will make an immediate impact instead of a QB – which is exactly what Philadelphia and New York will be doing with the 8th and 10th picks, respectively.
One name that I floated around was Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is far and away the top back in this class. While I have my doubts that this Cowboys front office values the position enough to spend a top 5 pick on it, Elliott could take this offense to an elite level as soon as his feet his the practice field.
Running behind the Cowboys’ offensive line, Elliott would immediately put himself in the discussion for Offensive Rookie of the Year while providing a reliable option for Tony Romo throughout the end of his Cowboys career.
Again, while I think it is unlikely he winds up with a star on the side of his helmet, there may be one factor that forces the Cowboys to give slightly more consideration towards Elliott than they normally would.
The Giants and Eagles could both also use an explosive offensive weapon at the running back position, and he will likely be in play for their picks if Dallas passes on him.
The Giants running game has been a revolving door for years, but it is no secret that this team is at it’s best when they can pound the football on offense. While Eli Manning had a great 2015, he has 4 years remaining in New York and 2016 will be the first with new Head Coach Ben McAdoo. If the Giants want to quickly get back to their winning ways with Manning one more time, Ezekiel Elliott should be their pick at #10 overall.
Of course, for Zeke to get there, he would have to make it past the Eagles at #8. Philadelphia’s 2015 running game was supposed to thrive with Chip Kelly’s offense being powered by DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews, and Darren Sproles.
Now, the Kelly Experiment is over, Murray has moved on to Tennessee, and new HC Doug Pederson – who will bring this offense back to a more traditional west coast offense – is left with Matthews and Sproles on the depth chart.
While these two backs, along with burner Kenjon Barner, don’t make the position an immediate need for the Eagles, they do have uncertainty at the quarterback position. Sam Braford is clearly not the long-term answer, but giving him a workhorse back like Elliott to pair with a revamped Eagles defense could lead to this team taking some big steps in the right direction next season.
I don’t see Elliott being selected in the top 3 of this draft, but I do see him going off the board within the top 10. This means that, of the 7 picks Elliott is in play for within the top 10, three of them are controlled by the NFC East.
The odds are pretty good that Ezekiel Elliott will play out his career in the Cowboys division, whether it be with a star or not.
Do you want to see Elliott in the silver and blue? Worried about him joining the Giants or Eagles? Leave a comment below this article, and be sure to catch me on WMSCRadio.com tomorrow from 1-4 ET for Upon Further Review – featuring more NFL Draft discussion!