#21 Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott was born on July 22, 1995 in Alton, Illinois. Ezekiel Elliott is an NFL running back for the Dallas Cowboys and was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He played collegiately at Ohio State University where he earned All-American honors in 2015.
Ezekiel Elliott attended high school at John Burroughs School in Ladue, Missouri. Even though John Burroughs School was known more for their academics, Elliott was a standout player in several sports, including football, baseball, track, and basketball.
Ezekiel Elliott was a standout track and field athlete and was a state qualifier in different sprinting and hurtling events. He won four state championships at the Missouri Class 3 state championships and was amazingly able to accomplish this in just 2 ½ hours. He recorded his career best times in the 100-meter dash (10.95 seconds), the 200-meter dash (22.05 seconds), 110-meter high hurdles (13.77 seconds), and the 300-meter hurdles (37.52 seconds). He was named the Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year in the state of Missouri because of his accomplishments.
Elliott played running back for the John Burroughs Bombers football team, and as a junior in 2012 was named the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,802 yards and scoring 34 touchdowns. He also caught 23 passes for 401 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns.
In his senior year, Ezekiel Elliott accumulated 3,061 all-purpose yards and 50 total touchdowns, including 2,155 rushing yards and 40 rushing touchdowns. In his high school career he led the Bombers to three straight title games, but they lost all three. He also played in the U.S. Army All-American game and became the unofficial poster boy for the event.
Ezekiel Elliott was considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com coming out of high school and was listed as the #9 running back in the nation in 2013. 247Sports.com had Elliott rated as the fourth best running back.
Despite the fact that both of his parents were student athletes and attended the University of Missouri, Ezekiel Elliott decided to become an Ohio State Buckeye.
As a true freshman in 2013, Ezekiel Elliott saw action 11 games playing behind future second round draft pick and Big Ten Running Back of the Year, Carlos Hyde. He carried the ball 30 times for 262 rushing yards. He also averaged 8.7 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns.
Elliott became the starter as a sophomore in 2014 and ran for 1,878 yards on 273 rushing attempts. Elliott’s 1,878 rushing yards was second-most in school history, second only to Eddie George’s 1,927 rushing yards back in 1995. Ezekiel Elliott also had 28 receptions for 228 receiving yards. He won the James E Sullivan Award, Archie Griffin Award, and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten Conference team. Ezekiel Elliott became only the third Buckeye to top 2,000 all-purpose yards in a season.
As a junior in 2015, Elliott rushed for 1,821 yards and scored 23 touchdowns on just 289 rushing attempts. He also added 27 receptions for 206 receiving yards. He ended up finishing eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting, but won plenty of other awards.
- Big Ten Offensive Player
- Running Back of the Year
- First Team All-Big Ten
- Won Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football Award as the Big Ten Most Valuable Player (only the 18th Buckeye to ever win it)
- AP and FWAA second-team All-American
- Maxwell Award semifinalist
Ezekiel Elliott finished his career at Ohio State second in career rushing yards, behind Archie Griffin (5,589) and ahead of Eddie George (3,768), with 3,961 rushing yards. He will be remembered as one of the best running backs in Ohio State history.
2016 NFL Draft
Ezekiel Elliott didn’t have to wait long to hear his name announced in the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Dallas Cowboys held the 4th overall draft pick and didn’t hesitate to write his name down on the draft card.
The running back position has been devalued somewhat over the past several years, but Elliott’s production in college and the fact that there really aren’t any holes in his game makes him a surefire day one starter for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys could have decided to go defense in the first round, but the the pairing of Ezekiel Elliott with the Cowboys’ young and dominant offensive line was too much of a temptation to pass up.
Ezekiel Elliott was the highest drafted running back since Trent Richardson, when he was drafted third overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Ezekiel Elliott’s professional career has yet to kick off, but there are a lot of high hopes from fans and people within the Cowboys organization who believe that big things are ahead of him in the NFL.
Elliott is already the “unofficial” favorite to win Rookie of the Year and a lot of that can be attributed to not only his talents as a running back, but the fact that he will be running behind the Cowboys’ dominant offensive line.
Predictions aside, Ezekiel Elliott is one of the best all-around running backs to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson, and there are a lot of high expectations being placed on his arrival in Dallas.
Ezekiel Elliott signed a four-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys worth $24,956,338 and will make an average of $6,239,085 per season, which makes him the ninth highest paid running back out of 200 running backs in the NFL. Elliott also received a $16.35 million signing bonus.
Elliott’s base salary as a rookie in 2016 will be $450,000 and his cap number will be $4,537,516. In 2017, his base salary will be $1,584,379 and his cap number will be $5,671,895. His 2018 base salary will be $2,718,758 and his cap number will be $2,806,274. In his final year of his rookie contract his base salary will be $3,853,137 and his cap number will be $7,940,653.
The Dallas Cowboys will then have to decide whether they want to pick up his fifth year option or offer him a long-term contract.
Cowboys Defense is Ready to Win Now, Time for Offense to Prove the Same
The Dallas Cowboys lead the NFC East at 1-1, and have a favorable schedule ahead of them. With such an inexperienced roster, early season growing pains were expected, and likely should be still as the team comes off their first win to play in Seattle on Sunday.
Through a season opening clunker in Carolina and hard-earned divisional win against the Giants, the Cowboys have exceeded already high expectations on defense.
With the currently 0-2 Seahawks, Lions, and Texans awaiting Dallas, the time is now for Scott Linehan's offense to hit their stride. It will take more than a five week assessment to determine if the Cowboys are truly playoff contenders for 2018, but it could take even less than that for Cowboys Nation to realize this team is fighting an uphill battle at QB and WR.
Following Dak Prescott's 64-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Austin against the Giants, the Cowboys punted on four of their remaining seven drives. The Cowboys did a better job mixing up their early down play calling to remain ahead of the chains for most of the night, but even still their execution was lacking. Finishing three of ten on third downs, the Cowboys didn't sustain the type of originality on offense that earned them an early cushion.
Thankfully, the Cowboys turning back the clock to 2016 on a clinching touchdown drive of 14 plays would be all the defense needed. Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott would both convert a pair of first downs on the ground. The Cowboys took a 20-3 lead, and more importantly the game clock down to 5:45 with an eight minute and 23 second march.
As such, the Cowboys offense is an enigma. With the return of Brice Butler, the team is currently carrying seven wide receivers and four tight ends.
On defense, the Cowboys are expecting reinforcements in Xavier Woods, Randy Gregory, and David Irving to further bolster this aggressive, blitzing unit in the coming weeks. For the offense, Dallas must make the most out of the unknown depth they have, without any drastic change in style around the corner.
The Cowboys record under Prescott proves they're at their best when Dak is efficient. The ceiling for a new-look Cowboys offense built for Dak is not as high for this reason. Through just two weeks, it's clear that the Cowboys offense will be as good as the sum of its parts - instead of relying on any individual talents.
Cowboys' record when Dak Prescott ... Doesn't throw an interception: 20-4 Records at least a 100.0 passer rating: 15-1 Commits no turnovers: 18-1
After a strong preseason from rookie Wide Receiver Michael Gallup, the third-round pick has played less than half his team's offensive snaps through two games. Cole Beasley has seemed to regain his connection with Prescott, snagging a team high nine catches so far. Terrance Williams has been a non-factor, and the same is surprisingly said about FA acquisition Allen Hurns.
Regardless of what the Cowboys do over the coming weeks, a few narratives and lingering questions about the team feel evident. With the defense set to tee off against the Seahawks sub par OL this week, Rod Marinelli's unit will still likely not receive the credit it deserves heading into week four.
With the task at hand being maintaining their standing atop the division, the Cowboys must also be out to prove they can sustain success without a consistent passing game.
All of this to effectively say, the Cowboys are going to Seattle expecting to control the game on defense. To finish off Russell Wilson in his home opener (already at 0-2), it will take a sharper performance for a full four quarters on offense too.
A win at the Seahawks might not mean as much as it has in past seasons, but in improving the Cowboys record to 2-1 on the way back to AT&T Stadium, it could be all the confidence they need to understand the NFC East is theirs for the taking while continuing to truly find their identity.
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Snap Judgments: Cowboys’ Linebacker Depth Stands Out in Win
The Dallas Cowboys evened their record at 1-1 with their 20-13 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night. The Cowboys linebackers had a huge impact on the outcome of the game and it wasn't just the guys at the top of the depth chart either. America's Team got contributions from guys at the bottom of the depth chart.
What a difference a year makes.
The Dallas Cowboys worked hard this offseason to fix the linebacker depth that failed them in the 2017 season. When Sean Lee or Anthony Hitchens -- or both -- were sidelined with injuries, Jaylon Smith, Damien Wilson, and the rest of the linebacker group struggled to keep up with opposing offenses. Specifically, in games against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers the major depth inadequacy was revealed.
One year later, the Dallas Cowboys have a linebacker corp that allows them to go five deep with Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Joe Thomas, and Damien Wilson all making considerable contributions for the Dallas Cowboys in Sunday nights victory.
Here are the final snap counts for the five linebackers that played a defensive snap against the Giants.
- Jaylon Smith - 57 (84%)
- Sean Lee - 41 (60)
- Leighton Vander Esch - 28 (48%)
- Damien Wilson - 17 (25%)
- Joe Thomas - 14 (21%)
Jaylon Smith led the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night with 10 tackles (seven solo) and played really well roaming sideline to sideline and making plays. He was tasked with the difficult assignment of containing New York Giants Running Back Saquon Barkley and allowed four catches for 41 yards in his coverage area. Smith was credited with three stops or plays that result in a "loss" for the offense (per Pro Football Focus). Smith led the team in snaps for the second straight week.
Sean Lee had a better game on Sunday night than he did in week one. PFF credited him with four stops, four tackles and an assist. Lee allowed two catches for 24 yards on two targets to Wayne Gallman and Evan Engram. Lee pulled his hamstring at the end of the game and was held out the rest of the way for precautionary reasons. He'll be an interesting name to watch on this week's injury report. Age catches up with everyone, but hopefully Sean Lee can stave it off for at least another season.
Rookie Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch saw a big bump in his snap count from week one (17) to week two (28). The rookie played well too. As many players seemed to struggle with tackling Saquon Barkley, Vander Esch was able to bring down the number two overall pick on several occasions. Vander Esch had seven solo tackles in his second career game.
Damien Wilson was the surprise player of the night. He had three tackles on the night, including one on special teams, a sack, and a forced fumble. Though his time on the field might have been short, his impact was certainly felt. His forced fumble led to a field goal that gave the Dallas Cowboys a 13-0 nothing lead. Wilson was also credited with two stops on the night.
Joe Thomas has been a good player for the team off the bench as well. Though he only had one tackle, it was good enough to be credited with a stop. He's a player that can play both the WILL and MIKE linebacker spots. As the fourth or fifth linebacker on the depth chart, Thomas is a great role player.
Other Snap Count Notes
- Taco Charlton may not have started, but he played 84% of the team's defensive snaps. That number is up from 73% in week one. Charlton had a sack, a hit, and a hurry as well as three stops on the night.
- Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns led the wide receiver group in snap percentage from week one to week two. The big difference at wide receiver was seeing Michael Gallup take the third most snaps on offense instead of Deonte Thompson. Thompson still had the bigger impact with four catches for 33 yards on five targets including two for first downs.
- Geoff Swaim was the far and away leader at tight end in snaps with a 94% snap count. Only the offensive line and Dak Prescott had more snaps on the night than Swaim. He's the TE1 for the team, though he didn't have an impact in the passing game.
- Rico Gathers only played five snaps, but there was concerted effort to get him the ball as he had two targets in his five snaps. He may not have come away with a catch, but it's a start.
- Jourdan Lewis continues to be the odd man out on defense. He only played one snap.
- Dorance Armstrong saw a snap jump from week one to week two going from 28% of the defensive snaps to 40% of the snaps. He had two hurries and an assisted tackle.
Why Cowboys Need Tavon Austin More Involved Offensively
Two games into the 2018 season and I'm still not quite sure what to make of the Dallas Cowboys offense. To me, there is a void of playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. With the exception of Ezekiel Elliott and maybe Cole Beasley, there is a lack of consistency that is really hurting this offensive unit. Changes need to be made or someone needs to step up in a hurry.
Enter Wide Receiver/Running Back Tavon Austin.
Just looking at Tavon Austin you would probably put him in the category with Cole Beasley, a small/diminutive WR who should strictly be playing out of the slot. That's typically where the smaller WRs get placed in the NFL because teams would like you to believe that due to their diminutive stature, they can't succeed on the outside.
Well, guess what? The passing game is changing around the league and we're starting to see more of these smaller/quicker WRs earn more prominent roles. The reasoning is these types of receivers are generally known to be better route runners, who are more capable of creating separation on their own.
The Dallas Cowboys must be buying into this philosophy because during the offseason they pretty much revamped the entire wide receiver position with that thought at least in the back of their minds. They didn't bring in a lot of "undersized" WRs, but they did focus on adding pass catchers who can run better routes and create separation on their own.
Wide Receiver Tavon Austin is one of those pass catchers Dallas brought in to improve their passing game. Austin really hasn't been utilized as much as I thought he would in the first two games, but he is starting to look like a dynamic weapon the Cowboys can't ignore much longer.
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Last Sunday night against the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys finally decided to utilize Tavon Austin's speed in the passing game. The result, a 64 yard touchdown pass from Quarterback Dak Prescott.
Austin's speed to stretch the field both vertically and horizontally is something the Dallas Cowboys need to incorporate more of into their offensive game plan. Forcing opposing defenses to have to cover more of the field should create more opportunities for big plays in both the running and passing game.
Stretching the field vertically with Austin's speed will open up things up underneath in the passing game. It takes at least one, possibly two defenders out of the play, leaving nine to defend against 10 Cowboys offensive players. That benefits Ezekiel Elliott in the running game and the other WRs running those underneath routes.
Stretching the field horizontally mostly helps the running game, which is great news when you have a dynamic running back like Zeke. Utilizing Austin's speed on jet sweeps or reverses forces the edge defenders from crashing down on inside runs. It also forces the linebackers to hesitate more because they have to respect the threat of both an inside or outside run.
Against the Giants, Tavon Austin turned three touches into 94 total yards, two receptions for 79 receiving yards and one rushing attempt for 15 yards. Imagine if the Cowboys were to give him about 10 touches a game. It seems like such a simple thing, but I think it could have a huge impact (for the better) for the entire offense.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys need to get Tavon Austin more involved?
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