Ezekiel Elliott Rumors: Evaluators Question If Cowboys RB 'More of a 2nd-Tier Guy'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2021

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) warms up during an NFL football team practice Wednesday, June 9, 2021, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
AP Photo/LM Otero

Some NFL talent evaluators reportedly are concerned Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is a "second-tier guy" at the position because of his lack of big runs the last two seasons.. 

"They want to get Zeke Elliott going. He has regressed the last few years to the point where some league evaluators are wondering maybe he's more of a second-tier guy, because only seven runs of 20-plus yards the last two seasons. Maybe he'll regain his 2016 form this year," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said Thursday on Get Up.

Fowler added the team is pleased with the progress of Dak Prescott and believes its offensive line is among the best in football.

However, Elliott's regression is expected to be in the back of the team's mind heading into training camp.

Elliott rushed for a career-low 979 yards and six touchdowns (tied for his career low) in 2020, posting a long run of just 31 yards. The Cowboys offense ground largely to a halt when Prescott suffered a season-ending ankle injury, with Elliott and the running game struggling against packed boxes.

Backup Tony Pollard was in many respects the more effective running back last season, especially when it came to big bursts out of the backfield. He had four carries of 20-plus yards in 2020 last season in 101 carries versus three for Elliott in 244 carries. 

The Cowboys are paying Elliott a $9.6 million base salary next season and can't get out of his $90 million extension until after the 2022 campaign.

If Elliott continues to regress, it's possible Pollard winds up seeing more work as a 1B option rather than a backup next season.