Cowboys news: Will McClay addresses what went into signing Ezekiel Elliott

McClay details reasons for Zeke return to Cowboys – Patrik Walker,

Will McClay points to Zeke’s 2023 Patriots film that proves he still has it.

Loving what they saw from the former two-time NFL rushing champ in his lone season with the New England Patriots, the Cowboys’ front office points at 2023 performance as a key driver in a deal for a reunion being struck, as well as the now-rebuilt offensive line in Dallas.

“Zeke is a winning, starting running back in the league,” said vice president of player personnel Will McClay.

‘Tis true, because while the Cowboys weren’t able to get over the postseason hump in Elliott’s first stretch in Dallas, they’ve won plenty of regular season games together en route to the former fourth-overall pick earning a list of individual accolades.

He may not be the 2016 version of himself, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be valuable to what the Cowboys are trying to do this coming season, and particularly when factoring in the rebuilt offensive line.

“You turn on the tape and you saw him doing things like power gap scheme running, inside-outside zone, helping in pass protection — all those things to show that the ability is still there,” McClay said of Elliott’s 2023 film. “Adding it to this roster, it adds a guy that loves football, wants to win here, wants to be here, and adds to the roster from a leadership standpoint as well as his ability to play.”

It’ll be a group approach in Dallas, with Elliott leading the charge.

“I think the running back position, in this day and age, is not that old school, one guy as the lead back and the others fill in,” said McClay. “It’s by committee. And what he adds to the group, we’re excited about. As well as the other pieces [that we’ve added] to it.”

Those other pieces include first-round pick Tyler Guyton and third-round pick Cooper Beebe, both being looked upon as likely Day 1 starters, along with seventh-round pick Nathan Thomas, adding three very capable players to a starved offensive line.

If all goes according to plan, Elliott may see a resurgence in Year 9, and that’s what everyone in the building is banking on.

Joel Klatt belives Dallas Cowboys passing on a running back was an oversight – Griffin McVeigh,

Despite bringing Zeke back, Dallas still may not have done enough at running back.

Most thought Jerry Jones would select one on Day 2 but wound up without a running back in the draft class — a move FOX’s Joel Klatt did not understand.

Jonathon Brooks was somebody Jones publicly admitted the Cowboys were interested him. But he went No. 46 overall to the Carolina Panthers, 10 spots ahead of Dallas’ second-round pick.

“Jonathon Brooks goes off the board,” Klatt said. “And I’m thinking to myself ‘You know what, that’s probably good for Dallas. Go ahead and be patient and now you have those two or three guys in the third round that you can select.’”

Klatt had three other guys on his big board he liked. Florida State‘s Trey Benson, Michigan‘s Blake Corum, and USC‘s MarShawn Lloyd. Benson was already gone by the time Dallas was back on the clock but there was an opportunity to take one of the other two.

“So, we get to the third round — they had two picks in the third round… They take guard Cooper Beebe out of Kansas State. Interesting, because there is not a consensus at the top of the interior offensive line.”

Next time Dallas was slated to pick again at No. 87, Corum was taken by the Rams, and in Klatt’s eyes, giving them a perfect opportunity… Until they went in a completely different direction.

“So now, there is only one left, at least in my estimation,” Klatt said of Lloyd. “So now the Cowboys are taking their second pick in the third round and they need a running back. And they take Marist Liufau from Notre Dame. A linebacker, an off-the-ball linebacker. An off-the-ball linebacker. I get it, (Leighton) Vander Esch, the whole situation. They need that too.

“And then the next pick, the Green Bay Packers, who you will likely have to play at some point in the playoffs, take Marshawn Lloyd.”

Finding the fit for all 8 Dallas Cowboys draft picks – Brian Martin,

Here’s where some of Dallas’ top picks will fit in this year.

With time to reevaluate and reflect on the eight new players the Dallas Cowboys added via the 2024 NFL Draft, we’ve put together a little list as to what type of role each one of this year’s draft picks could play as rookies this season.

1.29 – LT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

The Cowboys traded down five spots with the Detroit Lions and also picked up an extra third-round pick (73rd overall). In doing so, they landed Tyron Smith’s immediate replacement and a player who should be their blindside protector for hopefully the next decade. He may have some growing pains early on while he continues to develop, but all the tools are there to be a longtime fixture at LT.

2.56 – DE Marshawn Kneeland, Western Michigan

The Cowboys surprisingly passed over RB Trey Benson here, instead choosing to give Mike Zimmer some more help on the defensive side of the ball. Marshawn Kneeland is a hard-nosed, greedy defensive end who will bring immediate toughness to Dallas’ defensive line. He’ll be hard-pressed to supplant DeMarcus Lawrence or Micah Parsons as a starter, but he should receive significant playing time as a rotational player as a rookie.

3.73 – OC Cooper Beebe, Kansas State

Cooper Beebe may have been the best pick of the Cowboys entire 2024 draft class. His toughness and mauler mentality should immediately pay dividends to Dallas’ offensive line from Day 1. He may have never officially started at OC during his time at Kansas State, but that’s likely the position he will step into early on as Tyler Biadasz’ replacement. Down the line he could be Zack Martin’s heir apparent considering No. 70 is entering a contract year.

3.87 – LB Marist Liufau, Notre Dame

Like Marshawn Kneeland, Marist Liufau is another Mike Zimmer-type of player he needed for his defensive scheme. Many believed the Cowboys may have over-drafted here due to the “need” of the position, and the fact they didn’t pick again until the 174th overall pick in the fifth-round, but the former Notre Dame LB will compete for playing time as a rookie nonetheless.

Cowboys post-NFL draft depth chart: How will O-line shape up? Jon Machota and Saad Yousuf, The Athletic

Two rookie starters on the O-line?

It’s hard to break this down into positions this early in the process. The early projection would be that the starting line, from left to right, would be: Guyton, Smith, Beebe, Martin and Steele. There will be competition, though, to see which guys can push to break into the starting five. Martin at right guard is about the only position written in ink.

Depending on which five guys prove to be the best way to go, there could be movements to fill positions, such as Smith playing left guard or left tackle, Beebe playing guard or center, Steele could be a sleeper to flip to left tackle if Guyton needs to be at his college position of right tackle.

There are a lot of questions in terms of how it will all play out in the end but the Cowboys have the talent to put forth a formidable offensive line.

Cowboys to decline Trey Lance’s fifth-year option, source says – Todd Archer, ESPN

All the QBs on Dallas’ roster are set to be free agents after 2024.

Unsurprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys will decline to pick up the fifth-year option on quarterback Trey Lance, a source told ESPN.

That decision was essentially made in August when the Cowboys acquired Lance from the San Francisco 49ers for a 2024 fourth-round pick. Had the Cowboys picked up the option, it would have cost $22.4 million, been fully guaranteed and been at odds with the club’s stated preference of keeping Dak Prescott after 2024.

As it stands, the Cowboys do not have a quarterback on their roster signed beyond this season, with Prescott, Lance and Cooper Rush set to hit unrestricted free agency in March. The Cowboys are unable to use the franchise tag on Prescott, and the quarterback recently said talks had not really started on an extension.

Lance is set to make $5.31 million this season in base salary and option bonus as part of the fully guaranteed, $34.1 million deal he signed with the Niners as the third pick of the 2021 draft.

While Lance was inactive for every game last year, the Cowboys liked the progress he made in practice. He figures to see expanded action in the three preseason games this summer because Prescott has not played in the exhibition season since 2019.

Earlier this offseason, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Lance’s “arrow” was pointing up.


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