With Ezekiel Elliott gone and Tony Pollard coming off an injury, could Malik Davis be the answer? Even with Ronald Jones on the roster now, could Davis handle the load? – Willie Davis/ New Orleans, LA
Patrik: The answer at running back in 2023 is the same one from 2022: Tony Pollard. With Ezekiel Elliott released, although he's still a free agent the Cowboys won't shut the door on, Pollard will return from injury to become RB1 for the first time in his NFL career and he's hoping to duplicate or better his Pro Bowl season from a year ago. Malik Davis showed a lot of promise and deserves the praise he's received, but he's still earning the role of RB2 and he'll have to go through two-time Super Bowl champion Ronald Jones in order to secure it; and that's assuming the Cowboys don't also draft a running back (especially if that RB is named Bijan Robinson). Davis will also be tasked with staving off Rico Dowdle, the latter losing out to the former only because of an injury last season. I say all of this to say that, while I love what Davis brings to the table and his potential going forward, he's competing to be the best depth piece on the Cowboys board this offseason — not the answer to any RB1 question.
Kurt: While Davis wasn't invited to the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, wasn't drafted, and initially started last season on the Cowboys' practice squad, he does have some traits that make him intriguing. Consider that at Florida's Pro Day that year, he posted an unofficial 39.5" leap in the vertical jump, which would have put him second among running backs who attended the combine, and a 10'7" mark in the broad jump that would have ranked third. Both totals were also better than Elliott and Pollard coming out of college, and although those two had faster 40-times overall, Davis had a slightly better time at the 10-yard split (1.55) than did Zeke (1.58) and Pollard (1.58). In other words, Davis seems to have explosive power and showed as much in his rookie season by averaging 4.2 yards per carry in limited action. Still, handling the whole load seems unlikely for Davis at this point, given that he doesn't have the speed and shiftiness of Pollard or the power and experience of Jones. Throw in that the oft-injured Dowdle will be battling for a spot as well and Davis has his work cut out for him. Then again, if the Cowboys continue down the road of the running-back-by-committee approach, that would work to his advantage. In which case, Davis could definitely be a nice (and inexpensive) piece of the team's offensive puzzle.