Former Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott has been selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft. Overall, Elliott is the fourth overall pick of this year’s draft.
“Zeke,” as many OSU faithful have called the 232-pound running back, is the third running back taken in the first round of the draft in the last four years. Also, Elliott is the second Big Ten running back taken in the first round in the last two drafts, along with Melvin Gordon.
Elliott rounded out his career with the Scarlet and Gray with 3,961 yards and 43 touchdowns, while averaging 6.7 yards per carry on his way to becoming Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. The 2015 Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year also earned unanimous first-team All-Big Ten honors, along with being awarded second-team All-American status.
Elliott made his debut for the Buckeyes during his freshman year, appearing in seven games, where he picked up 232 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass in his rookie campaign.
After earning the starting job in his sophomore season, Elliott exploded for over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 18 rushing touchdowns. The former high school track star powered the Buckeyes for much of the season, with memorable performances in the College Football Playoff series to help OSU to its first title in 13 years.
A three-game tear by Elliott to round out the 2014 season raised his draft stock, when he picked up 696 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns, including a 246-yard performance against Oregon in the national championship.
In the following season, his draft stock was further solidified with another solid year of production, picking up 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns. Elliott stated he would be leaving for the NFL draft in an emotional interview following a loss to Michigan State, which caused some stir about his character.
The combination of speed and power possessed by the St. Louis native caused multiple teams to scout Elliott. Ultimately, the Cowboys were the ones to pull the trigger.
With question marks at running back through the 2015-16 season, including former Cowboy running back Joseph Randle leaving the team mid-season, Elliott will compete with Darren McFadden for the starting job behind the NFL’s best offensive line.