Prior to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Ezekiel Elliott, the number one overall fantasy rookie, looked destined to be selected by the Philadelphia Eagles at pick No. 8. That was until they decided to mortgage their future to move up to the No. 2 spot, where they will most likely select their quarterback of the future, while also making the Cleveland Browns look like a competent NFL franchise.
The former Buckeye made it no secret that the Eagles were very interested in him with pick No. 8 and make no mistake about it, it would have been a great fit. After DeMarco Murray was shipped to Tennessee, their running back depth chart consisted of glass (Ryan Matthews) and two third down backs in Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner.
— James Walker (@JamesWalkerNFL) April 15, 2016
However, that ship has now sailed and Elliott will be packing his bags and moving to somewhere else rather than Philly, which will at least save him from getting pegged by batteries at some point in his career.
Truthfully, the 6-foot, 225 lb tailback would start for a majority of the teams in the league, but let’s take a look at where his most realistic landing spot will be and where he would have the greatest fantasy impact.
This would be a match made in heaven for all parties involved.
For Elliott’s benefit, he would be rushing behind the NFL’s best offensive line; with Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. He would be the main guy, but he would also be kept fresh with Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris backing him up. In addition, unlike Todd Gurley out in Los Angeles, he will have a passing offense around him, which will keep opposing defenses from loading up the box.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) April 20, 2016
From the Cowboys’ point of view, it would get them back to the balanced offense that they had two years ago with DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 1,845 yards. A formidable running game would keep the pressure off of Tony Romo and not to mention, Elliott is the best pass protecting running back to come out of college football in ages. Lastly, Jerry Jones typically goes for the star power and Elliott would bring that to Dallas.
The interest is there between the former Buckeye and the Cowboys, as the Cowboys have worked him out in Columbus, met with him at the NFL combine and had him out for a visit at their facility. However, with the loss of Greg Hardy and the suspensions to defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, there is a high possibility that the Cowboys would be inclined to take Elliott’s collegiate teammate, defensive end Joey Bosa.
Quick reminder: In Elliott’s lone game played at Jerry’s World in the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship versus Oregon, he rushed for a decent 246 yards and four touchdowns.
Most realistic destination:
Miami lost the underrated and underutilized Lamar Miller in free agency to the Texans and they struck out on signing CJ Anderson, after the Broncos surprisingly signed Miami’s offer sheet. On top of that, they looked out of the running in the Ezekiel Elliott sweepstakes after the Eagles sent Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and the No. 13 pick to the Dolphins for the No. 8 pick. The Eagles and maybe the Giants were the only real hurdles in between the Dolphins and their future every down back.
Then, the trade happened.
With the Eagles essentially out of the picture and the Giants most likely trying to fill higher needs at pick No. 10, Elliott should land in the Dolphins’ lap. If he does, expect great things from the player who shredded former Dolphins’ head coach, Nick Saban, to a tune of 230 yards and two touchdowns in 2015 Sugar Bowl.
Unlike Dallas, where he would lose some carries (yet stay fresh for all 16 games) to McFadden and Morris, he would be the no-brainer every down back in Miami, with the underwhelming Jay Ajayi, Daniel Thomas, Isaiah Pead and Damien Williams behind him. Although the offense line needs some work outside of center Mike Pouncey and left tackle Brandon Albert, the volume and day one impact would be there for Elliott in Miami.
This week, it was reported by NFL Network’s Albert Breer that Elliott visited South Beach for a workout with the Dolphins.
New York Giants and Oakland Raiders
The only realistic team between the Cowboys and the Dolphins to draft the former Buckeye would be the New York Giants. The Giants got very little production out of the running back position in 2015; however, they have a ton of holes to fill on defense. The thought of Odell Beckham Jr. and the addition of Ezekiel Elliott would be frightening for opposing defenses and a joy for fantasy owners.
If Elliott happens to fall past those three teams, expect him to land in Oakland, where Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Elliott would team up to be one of the NFL’s youngest and most lethal air and ground attacks. They would be the early favorites in the AFC West and all three would be valued very high in fantasy leagues.