In Ezekiel Elliott's five seasons in the NFL, he's been one of the most productive backs in the league. Elliott's continued to be a productive back despite missing games due to a suspension, dealing with COVID, or offensive line injuries.
In the early part of his career, he's been as productive as some of the all-time great running backs in the NFL.
According to ESPN Stats and Information, Ezekiel Elliott ranks third all-time in scrimmage yards before the age of 26. Elliott collected more scrimmage yards than Hall of Famer Barry Sanders and behind only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton.
Ezekiel Elliott is celebrating his 26th birthday today.
His 8,341 scrimmage yards are the 3rd most by a player before his 26th birthday in NFL history, trailing only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton. pic.twitter.com/iIWOcUIFO7
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 22, 2021
Given some better circumstances in 2020, it's possible that Elliott would have passed Payton on this list, finishing just nine scrimmage yards shy of “Sweetness.”
Elliott heads into 2021 with a renewed energy after an offseason spent improving his agility and losing some weight.
In Jason Garrett's offense, Ezekiel Elliott was asked to be a battering ram. Someone who could kill the defense three yards at a time. Cowboys' Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore is unleashing the pass-catching side of Elliott in his offense. After catching just 59 passes in his first two seasons, Elliott's caught 189 passes.
21 – from – 4.@EzekielElliott – having fun.#CowboysCamp2021 pic.twitter.com/KAuM9rBWH5
— Joe Trahan (@JoeTrahan) July 24, 2021
As the Dallas Cowboys look to throw the ball more in Kellen Moore's offense, this is how they should incorporate Elliott into the passing game. Simply asking him to be a check-down receiver doesn't fully utilize his abilities as a pass-catcher. We've seen Elliott make plays down the field when he's been called upon to run the wheel routes in the Cowboys' offense. Deploying him to run routes up the seam will provide further opportunities to make plays and give Dak Prescott another weapon to target downfield in Moore's 4-verts offense.
Ezekiel Elliott is primed for a bounceback season in 2021. If the Dallas Cowboys can improve even a little bit on defense, Elliott should get more opportunities to carry the ball to help seal games. With reasonable health along the offensive line, 2021 will make his 2020 season look like an aberration.