While it may be premature to pronounce the Cowboys’ first round pick Ezekiel Elliott Offensive Rookie of the Year, it’s still well within his reach. In fact, it’s very attainable for Zeke.
Just look at the running backs to win Rookie of the Year in the past.
For example, take the 2015 OROY, LA Rams running back, Todd Gurley. Gurley finished with 27 votes to win the award. Behind him was Jameis Winston with 17 votes.
Gurley burst onto the scene in Week 4, logging 19 carries for 146 yards. That was the start of a stretch that saw 766 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games. He had four consecutive games with more than 125 rushing yards and finished his rookie season with 1,106 yards, ranking him third in the NFL.
Gurley ranked fifth in rushing touchdowns with ten. The only players to best him were Adrian Peterson, Devonta Freeman, Deangelo Williams and Jeremy Hill with eleven rushing touchdowns each. Gurley also finished second in the league with carries of 20 yards or more with 11; His rare blend of speed and power make him extremely tough to tackle in open space.
Like Gurley, Elliott is also extremely hard to tackle in open space:
In 2013, Green Bay Packers’ running back Eddie Lacy, won the award. Lacy beat out Keenan Allen, who had 12 votes and Giovani Bernard who had one vote.
Lacy finished eighth in rushing yards with 1,178 yards and third in rushing touchdowns with 11. Only Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch had more touchdowns with 12. While Lacy only had three runs for over 20 yards, he made up for it by averaging 88.7 yards per game from Week 5 on. Only LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles averaged more.
Another recipient, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, won the award in 2007 after rushing for 1,341 yards which ranked him second in the league behind Ladainian Tomlinson. His 12 touchdowns also ranked him second behind Tomlinson and tied him with Joseph Addai. Like Todd Gurley, he had 11 runs of over 20 yards which tied him for third most in the league. He ran for 224 yards in just his fifth NFL game. It also helped that he set an NFL single-game record with 296 rushing yards in Week 8 that season.
But is this possible for Elliott? Just look at DeMarco Murray’s 2014 season in Dallas. He ranked first in the league in terms of rushing yards with 1,845 yards and first in touchdowns with 13. He had 15 runs of 20 yards or more, ranking him second, behind Baltimore’s Justin Forsett (17).
If Murray had been a rookie, he would have won the award, and Elliott is an even better running back than Murray was. Darren McFadden ran for 1,089 yards behind this line without starting a full season and sans Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. Moreover, the line that blocked for Murray has improved since 2014, with the addition of La’el Collins. Therefore, with an even better offensive line to support Elliot, his chances of becoming Offensive Rookie of the Year are even greater.
Dallas is due for another OROY recipient. Think about it, who was the last Dallas Cowboy to be awarded Offensive Rookie of the Year? Emmitt Smith. He rushed for 937 yards and scored 11 touchdowns to earn him the Offensive Rookie of the Year award over two decades ago in 1990.
So, in short, a sure fire way for Elliott to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award:
- He must rush for at least 1,100 yards, seeing as Gurley, Lacy and Peterson rushed for 1,106, 1,178, and 1,341, respectively. This should be something that is within Elliott’s reach, as Murray proved it’s possible to run for 1,845 yards in a season in Dallas.
- Elliott will have to score at least ten touchdowns, seeing as Gurley, Lacy and Peterson scored, 10, 11 and 12, respectively. Murray scored 13 touchdowns his last year as a Cowboy.
- Elliott will also have to have over 11 runs of over 20 yards. Gurley and Peterson both had 11, Murray had 15.
Sure it may be too early to tell, but it’s still fun to dream. The odds are in Elliott’s favor of winning the OROY award, months before the first kickoff. That’s something to be excited about! Some could say that winning the award would be EZE?