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2020 RB Options for the Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott

The could have a -type situation on their hands in regards to . It's been reported Zeke is contemplating a until his financial demands are met by way of a . This could put the Cowboys between a rock and a hard place.

Ezekiel Elliott is technically still under contract for two more seasons because of the fifth-year option he carries as a former first-round draft pick. Threatening to hold out seems a little premature, but Zeke has the Cowboys by the short hairs right now, meaning the leverage is on his side.

This is a situation that could, unfortunately, turn ugly, and quickly.

Check out Ep. 6 of Cowboys Weekly – Segment 1 for more discussion from Inside on Ezekiel Elliott's Hold-Out situation:

The Cowboys have several other mouths to feed and Zeke may not be at the top the list considering his continued immaturity issues off the field. His on-field production is undeniable, but so are the red flags that keep popping up. It may be time for Dallas to look for his successor and fortunately, the 2020 draft class is a pretty good place to start.

Let's take a look…

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor
RB

Jonathan Taylor (5'11”, 219) would probably be the ideal candidate to replace Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the more productive collegiate running backs expected to enter the 2020 and has the intangibles that are eerily similar to Zeke as far as size, speed, and power are concerned. Unfortunately, that likely makes him a top 10 selection, putting him out of reach of the Cowboys.

Taylor doesn't come without his warts though. As a true Junior, he's seen a lot of action in his three years as the starting RB for the Badgers. That wear-and-tear is a cause for concern because it could lead to durability issues once in the NFL. He also has struggled with his ball security. He's put the ball on the ground 12 times in the last two seasons, which will need to be cleaned up at the next level. But, there's no denying his talent.

D'Andre Swift, Georgia

D'Andre Swift
RB D'Andre Swift

D'Andre Swift (5'9″, 215) is one of my favorite RB options in the 2020 draft class to replace Ezekiel Elliott if things turn ugly with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn't have the same kind of production as Jonathan Taylor and is still somewhat under the radar because he's been stuck in a committee with the Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Elijah Holyfield the last two years. But mark my words, he will be the next great RB to enter the NFL out of Georgia. Swift could be as ideal of a candidate to replace Zeke as there is.

Dallas likes an inside runner with zone vision as well as someone who can be a threat in the , and D'Andre fits the bill. Despite being a little smaller in size than Zeke, he still possesses the power to run inside. Then throw in his receiving ability, 32 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns last season, and you have someone who is more than capable of replacing #21's offensive production. He's projected to be a late first-round pick, which could put him within striking distance of the Cowboys.

J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

J.K. Dobbins
RB J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins (5'10”, 214) could be someone who is already on the Dallas Cowboys' radar as a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement. They seem to have a liking for Ohio State running backs (Zeke, , ) and could turn to another Buckeye to carry the rock. Dobbins, an all-purpose back and native Texan (Houston, TX) checks all of the boxes the Cowboys typically look for in their featured back.

Dobbins has the size, speed, and vision to be a featured back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards his last two seasons while splitting time with Mike Weber and has averaged about 200 receiving yards during that time span as well. He's not the most physical back, but he keeps moving his feet upon contact. He also needs to improve in pass protection in order to become a true three-down RB in the NFL. But his vision, shorter area quickness, elusiveness, and patience as a runner are all top-notch.

Travis Etienne, Clemson

Travis Etienna
Clemson Tigers RB Travis Etienna

The breakout season of , unfortunately, overshadowed the Heisman-worthy year Travis Etienna (5'10”, 200) had in 2018. In his first year as a starter, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, all the while averaging an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. If he can follow that up in 2019 he could become the most coveted back in the 2020 draft class and become a really intriguing option for the Dallas Cowboys.

Etienne will probably need to add a little bit more “good weight” and muscle to his frame if he wants to be considered a featured back in the NFL. If he can accomplish that and not lose any of his elusiveness or speed he should climb up draft boards. If not, he may not be of much interest to the Cowboys because they already have a similar RB in . He does possess plug-and-play talent though, making him a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement.

Najee Harris, Alabama

Najee Harris
RB Najee Harris

Najee Harris (6'2″, 230) is yet another big, physical running back who has had to remain patient and wait his turn at Alabama, but 2019 could be his breakout season. With , Josh Jacobs, and ahead of him on the the last two years, Najee saw limited playing time. But, when he did receive the opportunity to showcase his skill set he didn't disappoint. His physical talent could make him a top-5 running back come draft time.

Despite his limited playing time last the two seasons, he averaged over 6 yards a carry. He rushed for a career-high 783 yards and four touchdowns on just 117 carries in 2018 and should easily surpass those totals this season. In doing so he should become one of the more sought after RBs in the 2020 draft class. With the Cowboys, as Zeke's potential replacement, his physicality would pair nicely with Tony Pollard's slashing style. A Harris/Pollard duo could be just as productive as the Cowboys has been in the past.

Honorable Mention

The above five running backs are all potential Ezekiel Elliott replacements who I really like and will likely receive the most national attention due to the programs in which they play. But, they are only a few in what looks like a really strong 2020 RB draft class. Here a few honorable mentions you should also keep a close eye on as well.

  • Cam Akers, Florida State
  • Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
  • Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
  • Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
  • Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

I believe any of these running backs mentioned above at any point in the article could be in play for the Dallas Cowboys if they choose to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott over his want for a contract extension. The 2020 running back draft class has a plethora of potential starters and this could be in the back of the Cowboys mind when they're determining where they want to spend their money. Paying top dollar for an RB might not fit in their budget, even for one as talented as Zeke.

Do you like any of these potential RBs as replacements for Ezekiel Elliott?

Brian Martin
Brian Martin
Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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Comments

  1. I like all the above players you mentioned, only 1 problem, I like Zeke better, because Zeke is a generational running back that comes through ever so often, & besides Zeke haven’t came out publicly and said he would definitely hold out, an Eagirls fan’s sportswriter started this garbage talk, a well known Dallas Cowboys hater, trying to stir up turmoil in Big D, nevertheless the Cowboys brass has acknowledged that Zeke is the straw that stirs the drink so I know at some the Cowboys will take care of their Super star running back.Zeke is the absolute best in the game right now, the Cowboys knows this all to well.

    • I think the Cowboys are going to pay Zeke as well. But, history hasn’t been kind to running backs after earning their second contract. I’ve got an article dropping tomorrow about just that. Hopefully Zeke can be the exception, not the norm.

      • If Jerry is serious about winning another Super Bowl, you pay Zeke, we seen how thing’s went when Zeke got suspended, phasing the running back out is a huge mistake teams are making these day’s, I’ll go back to Pete Carroll’s moment of stupidity, having the ball on the 1 yard line and opted to pass and Wilson threw an interception that Made Malcolm Brown, & you got the Beast mode at Running back, which had to be the dumbest call in the history of dumb calls, instead of winning back to back Super Bowls, he got to see Brady gift wrapped another Lombardy, you cannot phase the running back out of football, he’s a very important part of the team, teams that do this will reap what they sew. The Cowboys should know this by now, because their game plan is to slow the game down.

  2. My answer to the question is NO. For starters you assume we sacrifice the 2019 season. . . It has been proposed a trade with the Ray Duhs maybe in order. For Zeke we get their 1st round RB, 1st round S and their 1st round pick in 2020. Or with Cleveland who has a RB we have been interested in the past. Zeke is due $17 million over the next 2 years . ..a new deal almost doubles him annually at around $14 million a year. There is a logic to signing him for 6 years now with a front loaded contract like D Law where after 3 years, easier to walk away. . .

  3. Like Jerry said the Cowboys have the money to pay all three, Zeke, Dak, & Cooper, the Cowboys know they need Zeke, just like they needed Emmitt, especially since I see them winning the next 4 Super Bowls in 6 year’s, gotta have Zeke to reach this legendary status.

    • Hope your right but…. Doubt it. Wtf would you pay the 23rd ranked Offense money for under achievement. If not for the 7th best Defence Dallas would be sitting home last year during playoffs. Zeke and Cooper are beasts. Even you can pick the weak link. He got sacked 56 times, lol Hope Kitna can work miracles. If not, Moore, Garrett, Kitna can all find other jobs.

      • Take it easy man, Dak’s gonna make you eat crow, bet your 2 grand Dak makes you eat plenty crow this year.

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