Ezekiel Elliott was a near universal pick for offensive rookie of the year from the moment the Dallas Cowboys made him the fourth pick in the draft and married him to that fantastic line.
Elliott has done everything to earn those predictions, too, running for 891 yards and seven touchdowns over the season’s first eight games. He’s in a position where he might be able to challenge Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards with a strong second half.
But is it possible when all is said and done that Elliott won’t win rookie of the year?
Because of his own teammate, no less?
Dak Prescott is at least starting the conversation. The Cowboys quarterback completed 21-of-27 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s 35-10 road win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, extending his argument that Tony Romo’s services are no longer needed in the big D. Since taking over for the injured Romo before the season, Prescott has thrown 12 touchdowns, run for another four and only been intercepted twice.
The duo has the Cowboys off to a 7-1 start. It also made franchise history on Sunday, breaking the rookie touchdown records for quarterback and running back, respectively. You might have heard of the two previous recordholders. Guys by the name of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith?
The Cowboys are obviously in a great position with one draft bearing the fruit of a game-changing quarterback and running back. It’s not something that happens often with the Dallas Morning News noting the last duo to enter the league under similar circumstances were Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson with the San Diego Chargers.
But neither of those players won rookie of the year in 2001 — that honor went to Chicago’s Anthony Thomas — and certainly neither occupied MVP talk midway through their first season. Both Prescott and Elliott are on the edges of that discussion as the Cowboys have burst out of the gate.
So can Prescott overtake Elliott in any of those discussions if Elliott’s production doesn’t take a major downswing?
At this point, I think it’s still Elliott’s trophy to lose. Besides being the favorite at the start of the season, Elliott has proven to be a game-changing talent and the singular type of disruptive runner that can win a game on his own. Those types of running backs are simply few and far between in today’s NFL and there’s no doubt the attention he draws from defenses has helped Prescott produce.
But if you want to make an argument for Prescott, who can blame you? That argument is likely based on what we see annually in the NFL MVP race, where quarterbacks are almost always valued more than running backs.
That Prescott was able to step directly from being a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State straight into playing mistake-free football in one of the brightest spotlights in sports is nothing short of stunning. If it weren’t for Elliott, we’d already be thinking about engraving his name on the trophy.
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