While his brother Jaylon will command our attention this offseason, running back Rod Smith should not be ignored. After playing 17 games for Dallas over the last two seasons, Smith will return with an excellent opportunity to make the 2017 roster.
To my surprise, Rod Smith made last year’s team at final cuts. He did not win the fullback job over Keith Smith but still emerged as one of the standout players on special teams. When he was released in November, Smith was one of the leaders in special teams tackles.
The Cowboys signed Smith to their practice squad after injuries at other positions forced Dallas to release him. He remained there until Dallas signed Rod to a two-year futures contract in January.
A few days ago, one reporter shared a small tidbit about Rod Smith’s prospects for the upcoming season:
Rod Smith tells me today he’s now a running back, not a fullback, with the Dallas Cowboys.
It makes sense that Dallas would want Smith to compete at running back. Lance Dunbar has left in free agency, opening up a spot if the Cowboys wish to keep four players there again. Rod’s special teams value could even make him a keeper over Alfred Morris, who has fallen down the depth chart and could be cut for $1.6 million in cap savings.
With Ezekiel Elliott‘s heavy workload and Darren McFadden back as the primary backup, any other running backs should either have special teams value or be developmental prospects. Rod Smith not only give gives you the special teams use but could also serve as an emergency fullback.
At over 230 pounds, Smith might even give the Cowboys a short-yardage option in case Elliott was fatigued or otherwise unavailable. Clearly, Rod offers versatility and we all know how much the Cowboys appreciate that.
It likely won’t be as simple as beating Alfred Morris for a job. The Cowboys should be adding at least one more running back to the mix, likely with a late-round pick or from among the undrafted free agents. While still just 25 himself, Smith will have to fight off even younger legs in addition to the veteran above him.
Still, with 10 games in 2015 and seven games last year, Rod Smith has been able to keep the Cowboys interested for a while. With nothing certain after Elliott and McFadden on the RB depth chart, he has an excellent opportunity to once again make the team.