Free agent scouting report: A closer look at new Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys came out of the 2024 NFL Draft weekend not drafting a single running back. As shocking as that is, what may have been even more surprising to Cowboys Nation was the reported interest in bringing a familiar face back to the team.

With reports that Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys had mutual interest in reuniting, the agreement came together quickly to bring the two parties back together. We look at Zeke’s body of work, and what he has looked like since his departure to see just what the Cowboys are getting with the newest member of their backfield.

Measurables and career stats

  • Height: 6’0”
  • Weight: 225 lb
  • Years in NFL: 8 seasons
  • Rushing attempts: 2,065
  • Rushing yards: 8,904
  • Rushing average: 4.3
  • Rushing TDs: 71
  • Receptions: 356
  • Receiving yards: 2,649
  • Receiving TDs: 14

Elliott played his college football at Ohio State University and was one of the most accomplished running backs to ever play at the collegiate level. That career led to him being drafted by the Cowboys with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Right out of the gate in the NFL Elliott proved his worth when he rushed for 1,635 rushing yards, and had 15 touchdowns on the ground while adding another through the air, en route to an Offensive Rookie of The Year award.

Elliott is a three-time Pro Bowler and a one-time All-Pro. He’s known for his leadership skills, accountability in the locker room, and for being an all-around likable figure in the NFL.

He has seen his production decline over the last few years and is part of the reason why the Cowboys let him go in the first place, in addition to an enormous cap number. Now with him reportedly being under contract for one year, with a $2 million guarantee that can go to $3 million, Zeke’s cap number is far more palatable, setting the stage for the reunion that has commenced.

Elliott’s strengths

  • Still a strong runner who always finds a way to fall forward and fight through first contact.
  • A finisher. Wants to make the tackler pay.
  • A patient runner who has an ample amount of experience in the Cowboys scheme.
  • Understands how to set up a hole, and knows when to hit it.
  • As good as a short-yardage back as you can have in the NFL.
  • A threat in the passing game – led the Patriots in receptions in 2023.
  • Willingness and ability to pass protect.
  • At this stage of his career is surely comfortable in a reduced role, not expecting excessive touches.
  • Has a nose for the end zone and the line to gain.
  • Willing to do anything it takes to win – true team player.

Elliott’s weaknesses

  • Doesn’t have the same burst he had in his younger years.
  • Has a lot of mileage on him with over 2,000 carries under his belt.
  • Fights through injuries, but they linger even when he doesn’t come off the field.
  • His running style has led to a decline in production.
  • A stop-gap at this point that may impede other’s development – if there was talent worthy of investing in on the roster.
  • Can’t be viewed as a top-tier RB1 even if that’s what they hope.


The Cowboys and their fans may have wished for a better situation at running back than the one they’re in currently. A Zeke reunion seemed impossible just a year ago, but the fact the Cowboys have done nothing to address the room outside of bringing Rico Dowdle back and adding Royce Freeman, Zeke now comes into a situation where his experience may be needed.

He can be effective, he can provide value, and the Cowboys are better off in a lot of ways for having him on the team, they just need to use him correctly. Short yardage, goal to go, and 3rd- and 4th-down-and-short situations, will most likely be his bread and butter, and that’s okay.

Where the Cowboys may get into trouble is if they try and force-feed him 20+ touches a game. He doesn’t need that, and no one wants to see it. All-in-all, the money to sign him is right up Dallas’ alley, and his presence in the locker room is a positive one.

For a one-year rental, with a well-respected guy, making up to $3 million, it’s hard to sit here and criticize the move. For now, it’s time for Cowboys Nation to go in their closet and dust off the ol’ Ezekiel Elliott jersey they thought they were retiring for good.


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