Obviously by now, everyone is aware of the Ezekiel Elliott saga. For months, it has given fantasy owners a headache of “will he or won’t he!” One day he’s suspended, the next he’s appealing, and the next he’s a free man.
It’s hard to predict how this will ultimately pan out, considering each day seems to bring a new twist. However, an emerging trend seems to be that if Elliott ultimately has his suspension upheld, then Rod Smith could be a large factor in the Dallas backfield. As such I wanted to give a quick overview of the guy overtaking Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden.
Jane Slater from the NFL network reported that given an Elliott suspension, Morris would lead the backfield, followed by Smith. Although, the Cowboys were confident that Smith could have an impressive role. Smith was probably the most impressive RB in Cowboys’ preseason. He’s notched 10 carries for 69 yards, and caught two passes through the season so far. He rushed 29 times for 130 yards (4.48 YPC) in the preseason, adding 7/57 as a pass catcher.
Funnily enough, Smith also attended Ohio State, declaring a year before Elliott. A 4-star recruit out of high school, Smith never really had a chance in college. Throughout his time there he was always behind Carlos Hyde, Braxton Miller, Ezekiel Elliott, Curtis Samuel, and JT Barrett in rushing. As you can see from his college production, it’s easy to see why he wasn’t a top draft prospect. His Buckeyes production can be seen below:
To make matters worse, as a fifth-year senior he was dismissed from the Buckeyes due to a failed drug test. Therefore, he decided to enter the draft. As you may expect, Rod Smith went undrafted in the 2015 draft, before signing on to the Seahawks practice squad (as every UDFA RB seems to do). Shortly after, he was put on waivers by Seattle and immediately landed with the Cowboys.
It’s difficult to predict how Smith will produce against starters given such a lack of historical production. One thing we do know, is that Jaylon Smith’s older brother should at least bruise opponents. He’s an imposing physical specimen, standing at 6’3”, 226 pounds. Running behind an O-line as dominant as the Cowboys have, the combination of size and good blocking has many evaluators interested.
Alfred Morris tends to be a one-dimensional back. We know he provides absolutely nothing in the pass game and can only really be used on early downs. As Rotoworld’s Evan Silva states, the change of pace and passing downs is where Smith will likely see most work in the event of a suspension.
I think the Cowboys know what they have in the other 2 backs, and they may be intrigued by the apparent upside of Smith. Matthew Berry notes that Dallas think he’s extremely talented and they’re high on him. If we eventually see Elliott’s suspension finally upheld, it may not be long until Rod Smith is a household name. He’s worth a stash…just in case.