It wasn't just about the offensive line. Ezekiel Elliott's ability to get to the edge, cut at full speed and run with raw power was unlike any rookie running back since Adrian Peterson. I don't think any rookie was as effective as Zeke this season. He averaged more than 5 yards per carry behind a great offensive line, taking pressure off Dallas' passing game. Because of Elliott's dominance in the run game, the Cowboys were able to control the clock and win a lot of games. He was the star in Dallas -- and will be for years to come. Dak Prescott was in a very delicate situation in Dallas, replacing Tony Romo while winning the most games ever for a Cowboys rookie quarterback (13). He played extremely well, putting up some of his best performances in Weeks 15 and 16, just when people were beginning to doubt him. Ezekiel Elliott could easily be given this award, but I feel like a quarterback is more important to the overall success of a team than a running back. There were a lot of good rookies, but Ezekiel Elliott won the rushing title in Year 1. Zeke's physicality and athleticism make him fun to watch. He was a huge reason the Cowboys won nine more games in 2016 than they did a season ago. Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott was a great story. Ezekiel Elliott, on the other hand, proved to be a great player. He led the league in rushing and met every expectation Dallas placed on him after drafting him fourth overall. He's going to be a star for a long, long time. Dak Prescott showed growth and development throughout the season while under the microscope. A lot of people may put Ezekiel Elliott here, but put Zeke on the Browns and he probably struggles. Put Dak with the Browns and I'm guessing they win more than one game. We saw just how hard Ezekiel Elliott ran and how it took an army to bring him to the ground. His physical style and raw talent led him to this year's rushing title. Some will make the argument for Dak Prescott. My argument for Ezekiel Elliott is that he positively affected the entire team with his production. When the Cowboys drafted Zeke, they felt he could impact the defense more than any defensive player they could select. They were right. He made the D better by keeping the unit off the field. Meanwhile, his rushing ability allowed Prescott to have a play-action/bootleg game. The OL was the true MVP of the team, but I can't vote for them in this category.
My other point: If you ranked the running backs and quarterbacks across the NFL, Elliott would claim a much higher slot in his RB group than Prescott among his signal-calling peers. Ezekiel Elliott should be named Offensive Rookie of the Year. What Dak Prescott accomplished was special -- and the degree of difficulty was high -- but Elliott made that offense go. Typically, defenses loaded up to stop the run, as opposed to worrying about Prescott and the passing game (especially when the Cowboys faced the Vikings and Giants later in the year). I also agree with Charley Casserly's sentiment just above about ranking the players by their position groups. Elliott would be in the top tier of running backs, along with Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson. You can't say the same about Prescott, who was statistically efficient but not as productive as the best quarterbacks. Both were great. Yes, Ezekiel Elliott was great and had the eye-popping runs. But Dak Prescott's historic rookie season was a big reason Elliott was able to find so much success. The Cowboys' offensive line opened huge holes for the rookie to run through, but Elliott's big-play ability was astounding. He added to his highlight reel every week on his way to becoming the league's rushing leader. All Elliott did to kick off his NFL career was rush for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. Oh, and he lifted fellow rookie Dak Prescott and the Cowboys' defense while being the main reason that Dallas landed the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Though Ezekiel Elliott finished 177 yards short of Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record, he had one helluva season. He was only the fifth rookie since the 1970 merger to lead the NFL in rushing, joining Earl Campbell, George Rogers, Dickerson and Edgerrin James. Nearly 2,000 scrimmage yards and 16 total touchdowns while helping his team to a division title and the best record in the NFC. If that doesn't cinch it for Ezekiel Elliott, I don't know what else you want. I'm going with Dak Prescott. I know a lot of folks will split the vote with Ezekiel Elliott. He was good -- and I don't mean to besmirch him -- but DeMarco Murray and Darren McFadden had great seasons running behind that line. Dak came into a situation where he was supposed to be a backup -- and led the Cowboys to the No. 1 seed. Ezekiel Elliott was crazy good, playing a huge role of the Cowboys' turnaround. A lot of running backs could do well behind Dallas' O-line, but not many could perform the way he did. Zeke had game-changing scampers every week. Oh, we're still debating this? Zeke was unreal in everything he did. Anytime you're compared to some of the great running backs in NFL history, you are all right.