The Cowboys franchise has been blessed with some elite talent at running back during their history. Now, they are blessed with arguably one of the best running backs in recent years, Ezekiel Elliott. In addition, the Cowboys also have one of the best RB2s in the NFL in Tony Pollard.
This Cowboys offense is loaded with talent at the running back position. However, I think it is quite obvious who will be the week one starter for this offense once the regular season starts. That being said, let’s break down how the depth chart order will look for the running back position for the Cowboys this season.
Cowboys RB1- Ezekiel Elliott
Like I said before, I think it is obvious that Ezekiel Elliott is the obvious starter here. From the time he was drafted in 2016, Zeke has become a superstar in the NFL. Since being drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, Elliott has rushed for a league-best 7,386 yards and third-best 56 touchdowns. He has become one of the pillars of this Cowboys offense and that won’t change any time soon.
Zeke signed a six-year, $90 million contract back in 2019. That was the true sign of belief in Zeke to be the starter for years to come. Elliott has rushed for 1,000 plus yards in all but two seasons since he was drafted. Even in the two years he failed to break 1,000 yards he finished with 983 and 979 overall.
While Zeke has begun to split carries with another guy on this list, he is still the go-to running back. Elliott played with a partially torn PCL for most of last year so that will be something to keep an eye on for 2022. However, he seems to be working out just well and looks to be in phenomenal shape for next season. Elliott carries high expectations to be a 1,000-yard rusher every year and 2022 will be no different. Look for Zeke to lead the charge for the Cowboys backfield yet again.
Cowboys RB2- Tony Pollard
It is very rare that you have a backup running back who produces at the level of Tony Pollard. Pollard saw career high’s in rushing yards (719) and receiving yards (337) in 2021. Heading into 2022, it would not surprise me to see the Cowboys utilize him even more.
Since being drafted in 2019, the fourth-round pick has put together 1,609 rushing yards and 636 receiving yards. Pollard brings a more explosive and agile skill set to the NFL that Zeke might lack. Pollard has the speed to outrun any defender making him an elusive and speedy back. If I’m Kellen Moore, Pollard needs to touch the ball double the amount from last year.
The biggest use for Pollard should be in the passing game. After averaging 8.6 yards per catch last year, it is clear that Pollard is already useful in the passing game. It would not surprise me if Pollard sees the ball more but also changes the pace of this offense even more. Pollard might have the “RB2” next to his name but I would call him “RB 1.5” with how involved he is in this offense.
Cowboys RB3- To Be Determined
After you get past Zeke and Pollard, the talent/abilities take a dip. Guys like Rico Dowdle and JaQuan Hardy. candidates for the third running back spot. However, neither Dowdle nor Hardy have proven to be reliable pieces just yet. Both Hardy and Dowdle have suffered big injuries that have limited them recently. If injuries are still an issue, I doubt the Cowboys could rely on either guy to fill up the depth chart.
The hope here is that neither guy will need to be used at all unless it’s an emergency. However, if I had to choose who would get the opportunity first, it’s Dowdle. He has more power and could be useful for a third-down back or goal-line guy. But past that, I wouldn’t pick Dowdle for any other role besides special teams until he proves he can do more.
Will Ezekiel Elliott get more carries than Tony Pollard in 2022? Comment below and join the discussion!
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