The Dallas Cowboys are sure to get more and more national media attention as we inch closer to the draft, as a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations now holds a top 5 pick at #4 overall. While Dallas has said little about their intentions at the pick, outside of Jerry Jones claiming the team will not take a QB (let's remember, draft season always starts with rumors), the national writers in the past few days have attempted to fill out the team's draft card – hyping up the idea of Ezekiel Elliott being our selection.
Let's start with this – I absolutely love Ezekiel Elliott as a prospect. In fact, I am terrified of the thought of him potentially landing to the Giants in the first round at 10th overall. That said, I do not want to see the fourth overall pick be used by the Cowboys to select a running back – as good as Elliott may be.
Darren McFadden rushed for 1,089 yards this season for Dallas, proving that – while blown out of proportion before the season – the Dallas offensive line was indeed capable of turning a career average-at-best running back into a very good one.
In fact, McFadden was fourth in the league in rushing this season while serving as the Cowboys best offensive weapon for most of the year.
Ezekiel Elliott, in his final season at Ohio State, rushed for 1,821 yards. Now, let's assume that Elliott sees a boost of about 100 yards to that number in Dallas thanks to the offensive line. That gives you a rookie season of 1,921 yards. While that is far and away good enough to top any rusher from this past season, it is just 732 yards more than what McFadden produced last season.
Again, that is also with McFadden being the primary option for the Cowboys, and running against stacked boxes on a regular basis. Bringing Tony Romo back in 2016 could do wonders for McFadden. To show this, we can adjust some numbers in our tests.
Let's say that 16 games of McFadden and Romo results in an additional 200 yards for DMC next season. Now the gap from him to Elliott is a much more manageable 532 yards.
532 rushing yards is nothing to laugh at, but is it an upgrade you are willing to spend the fourth overall pick on?
Now, of course, the major flaw in the case for McFadden here is that 2016 will be his contract year and his time as a top back even with the Cowboys is likely limited to just a few years past 2016 – should he have his contract extended.
Elliott would consistently put up the numbers given above, but so would another back in this draft. Meet Devontae Booker, a running back out of Utah.
In his final season in the PAC-12, Booker rushed for 1,261 yards. This figure brings us to just under 600 yards from Elliott's 2015 production, and by applying the same process of adding yards to both Elliott and Booker by virtue of being in Dallas, the gap closes to anywhere between 500 and the above 600.
From the first example, we landed on an additional 532 yards provided by Elliott as not being worthy of a fourth overall pick. Not only does this second plan get the Cowboys off of a running back at four, but it gives them a later round option that perhaps even makes that differential smaller in Booker!
I have already written about the prospect of Booker having his name called for the Cowboys right here, but by running some numbers on the matter it makes even more sense. Below is the full scouting report here on Inside The Star for Devontae Booker, which goes into great depth explaining the reasons why I would love to see him with a star on his helmet. His field vision, balance, and power are all on display in this scouting report:
In a way it is odd, to see the national media support an idea solely because they feel it would significantly improve the Cowboys. Since when are we the team that other people WANT to see win? It is certainly strange, and we will certainly be doing plenty of winning come 2016, but it will hopefully also be with Devontae Booker – not Ezekiel Elliott – in the backfield.
What do you think of Booker joining the Cowboys backfield? If not Elliott, who should Dallas draft in the first round? Let's talk about it! Tweet to @ShoreSportsNJ, or leave a comment below!