You can make a case that Dallas rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL’s MVP, and many have. I wonder if his success will mean that running backs will be valued more highly in the league’s draft.
Dallas selected Elliott with the fourth pick in the 2016 draft. He was the first back to go in the first four picks since Trent Richardson went third in 2013. Richardson washed out of football.
A running back is to the NFL what a conventional back-to-the-basket big man is to the NBA. Coveted they are not. The second running back selected in the 2016 draft, Derrick Henry (who like Richardson played for Alabama), lasted until the 45th pick. The next running back taken was Kenyan Drake, who went 73rd.
Elliott leads the league with 1,005 rushing yards and averages more than 100 yards per game. Second is DeMarco Murray of Tennessee, who played his first four seasons with Dallas. Murray has rushed for 930 yards.
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Elliott also leads the league at 22 carries per game. He averages 5.1 yards per carry.
To put the numbers in perspective, Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart averages 15.3 carries and averages 3.6 yards.
Elliott plays behind the NFL’s best offensive line. When rookie quarterback Dak Prescott, a fourth-round pick, needs assistance, there’s Elliott. It probably wouldn’t be an overstatement to suggest that the Cowboys’ draft was rather good.