NFL rumors: Scouts offer depressing assessment of Ezekiel Elliott’s future

NFL rumors, Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
NFL rumors, Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Scouts have lost quite a bit of faith in the chances of a career resurgence for Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

If you have any hope left in Ezekiel Elliott revitalizing his career with the Dallas Cowboys or any other team, the brightest minds in the NFL world would disagree with you.

Bob Sturm, answering questions for Cowboys fans in a column for The Athletic, described the opinion among league scouts on Elliott as a firm consensus that the running back’s legs have, “very little” left.

Sturm went on to predict that if Elliott signs anywhere above the veteran minimum, it would likely be in Dallas for around $2 million per year. Elliott has already suggested he’s open to restructuring his deal to help the team.

What happened to Ezekiel Elliott’s career?

Ezekiel Elliott was a Pro Bowl running back in three of his first four seasons, tallying over 1,300 yards in each of those Pro Bowl years.

In those first four years, Elliott was flirting with 90 or 100 yards (or in the case of his rookie season, passing triple digits) of rushing per game. That average has declined each and every year of his career. Similarly, his yards per attempt has declined almost every year as well, going from 5.1 in his rookie year to 3.8 last season.

Elliott still got the most attempts on the team last year, edging out Tony Pollard with 231 carries to Pollard’s 193. Pollard bested Elliott’s total yards by over 150, though thanks to his 5.2 yards per carry.

Pollard, a Pro Bowler this season in his fourth year with the team, is clearly the No. 1 option in the backfield now. He’s picked up more and more carries each year and has less miles than Elliott.

Most of the decline can be explained by mileage and age. Running back is a grueling position, no player in the top 10 in rushing yards last season surpasses Elliott’s seven total seasons under his belt. Elliott has the second-most yards of active players, so he has, understandably, very little tread left. The only players above 8,000 with Elliott are Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram.

Ingram is in about the same place as far as efficiency per carry as Elliott, and Henry is another story entirely given his stature and inordinate strength.

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