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Eatman: RB Philosophy Didn't Change; But Elliott Was Too Good To Pass Up

IRVING, Texas– There are exceptions to every rule.

The Cowboys proved that once again Thursday night, landing Ezekiel Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick, a move that immediately makes them a better team.

Two months ago, I went on record on the Cowboys Break podcast and said taking a back this high just doesn't make much sense when you've seen DeMarco Murray rush for 1,845 yards and Darren McFadden get 1,089 with limited starts last year.

The theory is, you can get a running back later in the draft and still have great production. It's harder to find that safety/cornerback hybrid player down the line, like the one sitting in their lap in Jalen Ramsey.

But Elliott was the exception. The No. 1 player on the Cowboys' board, Elliott is a game-changing player that will be hard to get off the field. Immediately, Elliott is your best home-run hitter. He's the best guy to pick up tough yards. He's probably the best pass-catcher and blocker.

I'm sure Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar will have something to say about that, and frankly, I hope they do. They're prideful guys who won't willingly take a backseat to anyone.

But like it or not, they'll take a backseat to Elliott. When you get picked No. 4 overall, it means the Cowboys view this player as a Day 1 starter.

If you were paying attention to the last two press conferences around here at Valley Ranch, you saw two different answers about the running back position. On Monday, in the pre-draft conference that had plenty of smoke screens going on, the Cowboys said running back value has decreased over the years. They also made sure to point out several positive things about Florida State's Jalen Ramsey.

On Thursday night, not only did they pass on Ramsey when he was on the board, they basically said getting a plug-and-play player such as Elliott right now, for a relatively cheap contract, gives them the best value.

So do running backs have good value or not? It sounds like the Cowboys believe the special ones are worth the risk.

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said Thursday he's not worried about this contract, but maybe the second and third contracts down the line. He also mention Emmitt Smith played 13 seasons for the Cowboys, although he fell short of comparing Elliott to Emmitt.

Just like the Cowboys didn't give him No. 22, but 21 instead.

Either way, Ezekiel Elliott is getting mentioned in the same breath as guys like Emmitt and even Dorsett. Is that too much pressure on him? One would assume so.
Then again, Elliott is definitely the exception to the rule, so maybe not.

A look inside the war room at Valley Ranch during the 2016 Draft.

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