by Dillon Meehan
2015 was a rough year for the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo’s shoulder injury sidelined him for 12 games and Dallas finished with a 4-12 record. With Romo set to return with a surgically repaired shoulder, the Cowboys had the number four pick in the draft and had a chance to find the missing piece they needed to solidify their defense and take control of the NFC East. And then they blew it.
Despite having the fourth pick and having plenty of defensive talent, such as DeForest Buckner or Jalen Ramsey on the board, the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick.
Is Elliot a phenomenal player who possesses a unique skillset? Of course, but it was not the right call to make with the fourth pick. Dallas had a lot of production out of Darren McFadden and recently signed Alfred Morris this offseason. In the modern-day NFL, it is important to have a good running game, not necessarily a good running back.
Elliot was given a top-15 grade by most analysts and would likely have been available just outside the top 10. Dallas could have found a way to trade back, acquire future picks and then draft him around nine or ten and have saved cap space as well.
But they didn’t and now Jerry Jones can have his dream of having another set of triplets to haunt opposing defenses. In the 1990s it was Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. Now it is Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott. With the Cowboys having arguably the best offensive line in football, there is no doubt Elliot will have success, but the value lost just simply is not worth it.
There is this mentality in the drafting process to take the best player available; most teams follow it while some don’t. The only team that flat-out admits to drafting for need is Seattle. What makes this situation so interesting is that Dallas is not in need of a running back, nor was Elliot the best player available. It was a decision to draft a running back to add to an already stacked position.
There are holes in the secondary, among the defensive line and even in the linebacker corps, which they filled to an extent by drafting Jaylon Smith the following round, but it is unknown if he will return to previous form.
After looking so smart and drafting Zack Martin and Byron Jones with their first pick the past two years, Dallas appeared to have caved in to allow owner Jerry Jones to pick, after having to swallow his pride and watch Johnny Manziel fall to Cleveland two years ago.
While they went for defensive linemen in the third and fourth rounds, it is likely that those picks will see playing time while Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are out, but after the first four games, they will likely be fringe players with the potential to become quality rotational players.