Cowboys looking to get backup RB for Ezekiel Elliott

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Since making Ezekiel Elliott a first-round pick in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys have fed the running back more often than a newborn gets milk.

Over the course of three seasons, Zeke has averaged 21.7 carries per game in the regular season. His totes per tilt in those three years: 21.5, 24.2, 20.3, respectively. Only once in three seasons did a running back who played at least half a season earn more carries per game: Le'Veon Bell's 21.8 in 2016.

Zeke eats well. And when Zeke eats well, the Cowboys perform well. The question for Dallas is how much eating is too much eating at a position that chews up athletes and spits them out.

The past few seasons Rod Smith has been the primary backup to Elliott. Though the team liked the player, he did little to give the Cowboys a reason to take Zeke off the field. Smith remains a free agent making Elliott's current backup Darius Jackson, who has six career rushing attempts.

Interestingly, if you click on the unofficial depth chart on the team's official website, the Cowboys list no second-team RB. While that's a fairly hollow observation on April 18, it highlights the point: Dallas must add a backup RB at some point.

"At the end of the day you worry about what you do if Zeke's not 100 percent," executive vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday of adding a backup, via the Dallas Morning News. "You want to get him as many touches as you can, but it's also a long season. We're obviously going to be looking, whether we get it done in the draft or whether we get it done in free agency."

Regardless of how much that backup will be utilized, having insurance is important. Running back is a thankless position, and while Zeke has proven extremely durable, it only takes one brutal hit to change that fact.

The question is whether the Cowboys (sans a first-round pick) will use draft capital to snag a backup or pick over the veteran free agent market later this spring or summer.

"I just think it depends on the player," Jones said. "If that's a first round-caliber player in our mind, then you have to take a look. ... It's certainly a rich pick. You hope you're drafting there in the second round a plug-in starter. ... We all know if Zeke's healthy there's not going to be a whole lot of touches going to that player. At the same time, you never know when you're going to need a player like that if Zeke were to miss a game."

A week before the draft, the Cowboys have just six picks to play with. It'd be shocking if they used one of their first three on a player who might only get a handful of snaps. If a highly graded running back is sitting there late next weekend, however, Dallas could do worse than snagging Zeke a tag-team partner.

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