Emmitt Smith and Ezekiel Elliott’s college stats are remarkably similar.
Smith rushed for 3,928 yards and 36 touchdowns on 700 career carries in three seasons at Florida. He added 56 receptions for 463 yards and a touchdown.
Elliott rushed for 3,961 yards and 43 touchdowns on 592 carries in three seasons at Ohio State. He added 58 receptions for 449 yards and a touchdown.
Smith, the league’s all-time rusher, said Elliott already has something Smith never had.
“He’s got speed – way more than I ever had,” Smith said after The Salvation Army’s second-annual Inspiring Hope Luncheon at AT&T Stadium.
Smith ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day at Florida in 1990, which is why he was available to the Cowboys with the 17th overall pick. Elliott ran a 4.47 at the combine.
Smith gave his seal of approval to the Cowboys for their choice of Elliott with the fourth overall pick. Dallas has drafted eight running backs in the first round, including Hall of Fames Tony Dorsett and Smith, whom Elliott already is drawing comparisons.
“It’s very early, but the kid has tremendous, tremendous talent,” Smith said. “I think he’s going to be an impact player for the Dallas Cowboys for a long time. He has a great line in front of him already. If we can keep Tony Romo healthy, and keep players healthy in general, then we’ll get a chance to see his talent come to life right before our eyes. He has speed. He can take it to the house. Agility, he has that. He has soft hands, so he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s willing to block. So pass protection is awesome. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a first-, second- and third-down back, although the National Football League has shifted its gears.
“You round out the entire backfield, we’ve got something very special. We’ve got a five-star backfield as far as I’m concerned.”
The Cowboys also have Darren McFadden, who rushed for 1,089 yards last season, and signed Alfred Morris as a free agent and re-signed Lance Dunbar. Morris has three 1,000-yard seasons in his four NFL seasons.