But the soon-to-be 26-year old is coming off the worst season of his professional career. Elliott recorded a career-low 979 rushing yards in 2020 despite being a 15-game starter for Dallas. He also tied a career-high in fumbles with six.
In defense of Elliott, the Cowboys lost their starting quarterback, Dak Prescott, to a season-ending ankle injury in Week Five. And the offensive line in Dallas was decimated by injuries all year long.
Still, Elliott failed to carry the offense on his shoulders when the team really needed him to do so, resulting in a disappointing 6-10 record in 2020. And that poor performance has some questioning if Zeke is even the best running back on the team anymore.
But one analyst believes Elliott will have a resurgence in 2021. Here’s what Adam Schein, a contributing columnist for NFL.com, recently wrote on the league’s official website after making the bold prediction that Elliott could once again lead the NFL in rushing yards this upcoming season …
“With a healthy, properly compensated Dak Prescott back in the fold, Dallas is going to dominate offensively. I envision the Cowboys jumping out to a lot of leads, allowing a highly motivated Zeke to play Emmitt Smith meets Mariano Rivera by closing games with chunks of yards.”
Despite his recent struggles, Elliott is arguably still the most balanced running back in the NFL. Although he’s not the homerun threat he flashed at Ohio State, Zeke is still one of the top receiving threats out of the backfield and is stellar in pass protection. So his impact on the game goes far beyond rushing totals.
One must also consider the fact Elliott has benefited from an offensive line that featured three former first-round selections turned All-Pros for much of his career. Last year, one of those Pro Bowl linemen, center Travis Frederick, surprisingly retired.
Then, seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith missed a whopping 14 games due to a neck injury. Starting right tackle La’el Collins didn’t play a single snap in 2020 due to a hip injury. And even the stalwart six-time All-Pro right guard, Zack Martin, who had only missed two games in his first six seasons in the NFL, was forced to miss six games last year due to a calf injury.
With Dak Prescott back under center, the offensive line returning healthy, and featuring one of the top wide receiver corps in the league; the Dallas Cowboys are expected to field one of the NFL’s top offensive units in 2021. And if they do, it could certainly translate into a career resurgence for Ezekiel Elliott entering his athletic prime.