Next Friday and Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL will engage in the middle rounds of the 2021 Draft. While everyone would love to find the next Dak Prescott or Jason Witten with their mid-round picks, more players like Running Back Tony Pollard would be big draft wins for the Cowboys next week.
A 4th-round pick in 2019, Pollard quickly established himself as an exceptional backup to Ezekiel Elliott with his own valuable skillset. He’s capable of putting up big numbers if Zeke goes out, but also works his way onto the field with his speed, receiving skills, and kick return ability.
While you hope for longtime starters and Pro Bowlers from any round of the draft, a guy like Pollard is a more realistic best-case scenario for your picks from the 3rd-5th rounds. Someone who can hit the ground running (no pun intended) and provide immediate depth, plus starting potential, is huge.
Just look at the value Pollard’s already provided and still is for the Cowboys. He’s only halfway through his rookie contract and counted less than $1 million in each of the last two seasons. Tony’s 2021 cap hit is right at $1 million and is still a nice discount for a backup RB and versatile offensive weapon.
Comparatively, Alfred Morris averaged about $1.75 million each season when he was serving as Zeke’s backup from 2016-2017.
Pollard isn’t the only mid-round win Dallas has had recently. We’re heading into this season with Michael Gallup (3rd round) and Tyler Biadasz (4th round) as projected starters on offense, plus Connor McGovern (3rd round) and Dalton Schultz (4th round) in key depth roles.
With two 3rd-rounders, two 4th-rounders, and a 5th in next week’s draft, Dallas could sure use a few more wins. They could especially use them on defense, where recent selections like Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, and Michael Jackson haven’t panned out as well as the offensive picks.
The Cowboys need help at almost every level on defense. They could especially use a few more solid linebackers with only the likes of Luke Gifford and Francis Bernard currently backing up their starters.
While the ultimate goal is always to see these players develop into starters, getting quality backups at cheap rookie-contract prices makes a successful draft. A single 4th-round pick in 2019 has helped the Cowboys’ salary cap and kept them from having to spend additional picks at RB, freeing up resources for other roster needs.
If our upcoming mid-round rookies can contribute the way Tony Pollard has, we’ll be able to look back fondly on this 2021 Draft.