Gil LeBreton

Ezekiel Elliott part of Cowboys’ last Romo-friendly draft

New Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott can't wait to run behind Dallas O-Line

(video by Charean Williams)
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(video by Charean Williams)

Well, he certainly knows how to make an entrance.

That would be Ezekiel Elliott, running back and first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys.

Ezekiel Elliott, who walked the red carpet into Thursday night’s NFL Draft wearing a blue sport coat, white pants, white bowtie ... and half of his shirt.

There was a reason for that, apparently. On NFL Draft Day, for everything there is a reason.

A time to draft for offense. A time for defense. A time to make Laremy Tunsil look really, really stupid.

And for the Cowboys, a time to be Romo-friendly for probably one last time.

Wait, you didn’t know that the NFL ushers its arriving draftees in on a red carpet?

Yes, indeed.

Ladies and gentlemen, may we present your 2016 college dropouts . . . and their proud mamas!

Just teasing, of course. Not hating. At least all of the guys Thursday have a job.

The Cowboys’ offensive line is the best in the NFL. We look forward to dominating.

Cowboys No. 1 draft pick Ezekiel Elliott

Especially Elliott, who joins a Cowboys offense that potentially could be as proficient as any in the league.

“The Cowboys’ offensive line is the best in the NFL,” Elliott correctly told gathered reporters. “We look forward to dominating.”

The question looms, though, whether drafting a running back with the No. 4 overall pick represents an upgrade for the Cowboys.

All in all, it was an outstanding pick, probably a can’t-miss one. At Ohio State, Elliott shredded defenses, scored touchdowns and won lots and lots of football games, and it’s hard to check off any more boxes than that.

The question looms, though, whether drafting a running back with the No. 4 overall pick represents an upgrade for the Cowboys. After all, Darren McFadden ran for 1,089 yards and was the NFL’s fourth-leading ground gainer last season.

In addition, running back Alfred Morris signed a two-year, $5.5-million free agent contract with the Cowboys last month.

Is Elliott so much of an upgrade that he’s worth the fourth overall pick in the draft?

Owner Jones and the Cowboys seem to think so. And who’s to say a game-changing back, surging through holes created by the Cowboys offensive line, won’t impact a game more than a rookie defensive back?

At the end of last summer, the Cowboys broke camp with Joseph Randle as their No. 1 running back.

Last year’s first-string running back had an orange jumpsuit. This year’s is only missing half his shirt. Another upgrade.

At Ohio State, Elliott was banned by the NCAA from wearing crop-top jerseys that bared his midriff. That’s what Thursday’s fashion statement apparently was all about.

But the argument can be made that Elliott is such an exceptional talent that he will take some of the defensive focus away from quarterback Tony Romo.

The player that many mock drafts had the Cowboys selecting went to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the next spot at No. 5, cornerback Jalen Ramsey of Florida State.

The Cowboys could have used him. But the argument can be made that Elliott is such an exceptional talent that he will take some of the defensive focus away from quarterback Tony Romo.

True, that was once a job that DeMarco Murray handled with league-leading effectiveness. The Cowboys allowed Murray to leave via free agency to the Eagles (five years, $42 million) after the 2014 season.

That Jones and the Cowboys didn’t view Murray, 28 years old, as highly as his numbers should be apparent by Thursday’s pick.

It’s the same song, latest verse.

Owner Jones has the franchise so heavily invested in quarterback Romo that all decisions must serve some purpose toward helping him.

Unfortunately, though, the Cowboys drafted a football player Thursday, not a witch doctor to protect Romo’s surgically shaved shoulder.

And there was the main gamble in the Cowboys’ otherwise sound No. 1 pick. Elliott’s success ultimately will depend upon Romo’s health.

I’m not sure I’d bet my shirt — or my half-shirt — on the latter.

(video by Charean Williams)

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