While the Cowboys spent free agency filling some of their roster’s biggest holes before the NFL Draft, they will almost certainly go into draft day needing to find Ezekiel Elliott a backup running back.
Considering they only have two picks in the top 100, spending one of them on a running back who will likely only play sparingly isn’t the best roster-building idea. Instead, the Cowboys should look in the fourth round and beyond for that complimentary running back.
The 2019 running back class is one without stars, but is also one with quality depth. The Cowboys should be able to find themselves a receiving back on day three of the draft, and they won’t have to look far to find it.
Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson could be just the player their offense needs to fill this hole.
Anderson has sort of flown under the radar throughout the draft process, mostly due to the season ending ACL tear he suffered in 2018. But any hype around Anderson is justified, as he will be an immediate contributor (pending his health) to whichever team decides to draft him.
The comparison which is constantly thrown out for Rodney Anderson is Jay Ajayi, with his combination of acceleration in the open field and power through the tight spaces. I like this comparison for Anderson, and like Ajayi in Philadelphia, Anderson will be at his best if used in a more specialized role, rather than as an every-down back. At 6’1″ and 219 pounds Anderson clearly has the build of an every-down back, but he needs to improve in pass protection and as a route runner to be one in the NFL.
Luckily for the Cowboys, this is the exact role they’d need Rodney Anderson to fill. Obviously Elliott is going to shoulder the majority of the load at running back, but this volume of his touches likely isn’t sustainable going forward. Dallas has to find a way to get him more rest to not only preserve his body long term, but also to keep him fresher than the defense late in games.
The Cowboys want to run the ball heavily with Elliott, but getting a back like Anderson that they can use spell him throughout the game as both a runner and receiver would help this offense immensely.