DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys will definitely have options if they choose to look for a suitable running back to back up for Ezekiel Elliott during the NFL Draft. With that possibility in mind, could the team go back to the well once more and opt for a back out of Ohio State?
Most recently the Cowboys employed two former Buckeyes in Elliott and Jaylon Smith’s brother Rod. Smith's tenure as primary backup for Elliott has come to an end leaving only Darius Jackson remaining on the roster as a Zeke substitute.
One name that could garner some consideration in Dallas is Ohio State’s Mike Weber.
Weber is likely a later-round caliber player so it wouldn’t come any earlier than next Saturday for him. He was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2016 with over 1,000 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Following that season, he hurt his hamstring and it limited him but he played much better in 2018.
This past year was spent more in a reserve role that will likely be where he would see the most playing time in the NFL. Weber can be both a runner and receiver out of the backfield with some success.
What positives Weber possesses is good vision and balance which are a big key for quality running backs at the next level. He does show good agility as well. As a receiver he has a good catch radius to go along with good hands. His big knock might be his blocking ability, as far his technique goes, that will need to be refined at the next level. Weber was one of the 30 national pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys so definitely keep an eye on him.
The other later-round option comes out of Memphis with Tony Pollard as a possible target. Pollard also brings special teams ability to the mix which makes him a much likelier option for the Cowboys.
For a player to come in as a backup they need to be able to contribute on special teams. That is right in the wheelhouse for Pollard. At Memphis, he was named the Special Teams’ Player of the Year in the American Athletic Conference twice in his three years for the Tigers. Pollard returned four kicks for touchdowns and set a school record with a kickoff return average of over 40 yards per attempt (40.04) in 2017.
Pollard isn’t quite as polished a runner or receiver but his ability in the return game gives you an idea that he can be developed to be a suitable backup for the two-time NFL leading rusher Elliott.
Pollard can be a versatile weapon to be deployed by the offense but he needs to be refined as a backup which could come with some NFL coaching. Mostly Pollard needs work in his route running and needs to be more focused when trying to reel the ball in.
Whether it is Mike Weber or Tony Pollard, there are good options for the Cowboys if they go this route of finding their next backup RB as the draft approaches and the final draft boards are set.
The Cowboys do need to find depth for Elliott and a selection in the later rounds is very feasible if the board falls the right way.
Do you think the Cowboys can find another running back out of Ohio State to meet their needs at the position or should they look elsewhere? Share your thoughts on drafting a RB with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.