There's no denying that Ezekiel Elliott is one of the most gifted running backs to ever play for the Dallas Cowboys. As he prepares for his seventh season, Zeke could soon move into the elite company of Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett as the clear top-three in franchise history.
Elliott currently sits third in both rushing yards and touchdowns behind Smith and Dorsett, who are first and second respectively in both categories. Right now Zeke's stats put him atop the rest of the pack, but the margins between he and the two two establish a clear tier that he hasn't yet reached.
Just a couple more production seasons and Elliott will put more meaningful distance between himself and Perkins while closing the gap to Dorsett. It will become impossible to discredit Zeke in conversations about the Cowboys' greatest running backs.
The same scenario exists with rushing touchdowns. Smith dwarfs the competition with 153 rushing scores, Dorsett has 72, and Elliott trails them with 56. The late Marion Barber III and Don Perkins are next with 47 and 42 touchdowns respectively.
While Zeke would have to have some surprising longevity as Dallas' bellcow RB to catch Dorsett in yardage, passing Tony's touchdown mark is far more attainable. Elliott only needs 17 rushing touchdowns over the next two seasons to take the second spot on the all-time list.
So why is any of this meaningful?
There's plenty of speculation that 2022 could be Ezekiel Elliott's last season with the Cowboys. His contract will finally offer cap relief to Dallas if he's released, or the team could restructure it to create cap space while increasing Elliott's job security.
If the cap casualty scenario unfolds then Zeke's place in the pantheon of franchise RBs won't change much from where it stands today. If Elliott's next year is strong enough to keep him employed by Dallas, his opportunities to add to his franchise stats and legacy increase.
Ultimately, helping bring another Super Bowl Championship to Dallas is the only way some will accept Elliott's name in the same breath as Emmitt Smith or Tony Dorsett's. But at least statistically, Zeke is now clearly the next man up and the longer he stays the closer he gets to the conversation.