Cowboys Predicted to Add ‘Future Star’ to Replace Tony Pollard

In the first few days of the official opening of the NFL offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have been best known for an utter lack of significant activity. They allowed their starting running back, Tony Pollard, to walk in free agency to the Titans, and replaced him with … well, no one. Saquon Barkley went to the rival Eagles, Dallas resident Derrick Henry went to the Ravens, Josh Jacobs went to Green Bay.

Texas football: Running back Jonathon Brooks ready for the spotlight

The Cowboys’ lead back currently is Rico Dowdle, a fourth-year player with 96 carries and 385 yards rushing on his career ledger.

Of note for the Cowboys is that just about all decent running back free agents are now off the board. They could take a crack at J.K. Dobbins or Clyde Edwards-Helaire, or could even (ahem) bring back Ezekiel Elliott after his one season with the Patriots. But in all likelihood, the Cowboys will go with Dowdle and address the running back spot with a draft pick.

And ESPN mentioned one whom the Cowboys have surely been able to see: Texas running back Jonathon Brooks, who put together 1,179 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games last season before he tore his ACL in November.

Cowboys to Pick Jonathon Brooks at No. 56?

While no running backs are expected to go in the first round, it is likely that there will be a run on backs in Round 2 of this year’s draft, and the Cowboys have set themselves up as a team that will need to ensure they get one. On Bleacher Report’s mock draft, the Cowboys select Brooks with the No. 56 overall pick.

ESPN’s Jordan Reid tabbed the Cowboys to select either Brooks or Trey Benson with their second-rounder.

Wrote Reid: “The 2023 group lacks a top-tier prospect, but we could see a run at the position in the middle-to-late parts of Day 2.

“I think the Cowboys — who have not signed a back after Pollard left in free agency — at No. 56 could be a starting point for such a run. Florida State’s Trey Benson shows great vision, breakaway speed, tackle-breaking ability and pass-catching traits, while Texas’ Jonathon Brooks (coming off a torn ACL) is a smooth runner with great contact balance. They are my top two RBs and could be late-Round 2 picks — and RB1s as rookies.”

‘He Looked Like a Future NFL Star’

It would be quite a turn of events for the Cowboys to turn to a rookie RB1 next season. Around this time last year, the team had Elliott, a potential future Hall of Famer, and Pollard as a counterpunch. They were overloaded with running backs and cut Elliott loose.

Now not only is Elliott gone but Pollard, too, and the Cowboys are going young at the running back spot. Brooks is a risk, especially with the injury, but he also made a significant impression in his short time as the Longhorns starter.

In its evaluation of Brooks as a draft prospect, Pro Football Focus wrote that after two years on the bench, “The wait appeared to be worth it, as he looked like a future NFL star as just a redshirt sophomore.

“While his footwork isn’t quite (Bijan) Robinson’s level, he can cut/change direction/avoid tacklers very quickly and has an explosive first step. He isn’t a nuanced route runner, but he has good hands and showcased his ability to force missed tackles as a receiver. The only glaring negative on his scouting report is a torn ACL in 2023 that ended his lone season as a starter.”

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