DALLAS — To hear the front office tell it, the Dallas Cowboys need to pay attention to drafting a complementary running back for starter Ezekiel Elliott in the 2019 NFL draft.
Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith doesn't think Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and chief operating officer Stephen Jones need to spend draft capital on a backup to Elliott given how well Rod Smith and Darius Jackson performed.
"First of all, I don't think they need the help," Smith said at the launch party for his Herradura Double Barrel Reposado tequila. "I think Rod Smith has done a great job, and I think that whole backfield has done a wonderful job themselves. So, I don't think they need the help. I think they're wasting a pick to be honest with you."
Smith and Jackson produced a cumulative 59 touches for 203 yards and a touchdown in relief of Elliott in 2018. Fullback Jamize Olawale caught two passes for 13 yards.
Smith, the former Ohio State Buckeye product – and brother of linebacker Jaylon Smith – is currently a free agent. However, he was an undrafted free agent who came to Dallas on a waiver claim which just goes to show that the Cowboys don't necessarily have to use a pick at the position to find a backup.
Dallas has picks in the second and third rounds along with two fourth-rounders and a fifth and a seventh. The dearth of draft picks will make the Cowboys' six picks the fewest since 2011. Without the club's first-round pick, the 27th overall selection that was dealt to the Oakland Raiders for receiver Amari Cooper on Oct. 22, 2018, the Cowboys have limited draft resources and need to be mindful of what positions they are addressing.
"I think they could use that pick to solidify other positions on that football field whether it's defense or offensive line or another wide receiver or something of that nature," said Smith. "There are other ways that they could utilize that pick."
In Smith's estimation, Elliott has proven himself durable and reliable. Aside from his six-game suspension in the 2017 season, the only games Elliott has missed have been season finales in 2016 and 2018 when Dallas' playoff seeding could not be altered by Week 17 results.
In 40 career games, Elliott has gained 4,048 yards and scored 28 touchdowns on 868 carries. The 2016 No. 4 overall pick's two rushing titles in three seasons also underscores the high performance Elliott has achieved with the Cowboys.
For Smith, he finds the timing of the need to address the reserve running back spot behind Elliott a funny coincidence given the two-time Pro Bowler's contract is up at the end of the 2019 season, though the club has a fifth-year option.
"Zeke's contract is coming up," Smith said. "It's funny they're talking about it, about bringing in another guy. Come on. Do the right thing. I've seen this happen before."
During Smith's 13 seasons with the Cowboys from 1990-2002, during which he helped Dallas to three Super Bowl wins in 1992, 1993, and 1995, the organization drafted Derrick Lassic in 1993 and Sherman Williams in 1995 to play that reserve role behind Smith and split his carries. None of those players ran for 100 yards or more in a game, and Lassic was the starting running back for the Cowboys during their 0-2 start in 1993 when Smith held out for a bigger contract from Dallas.
While the NFL draft starts Thursday, barring a trade back into the first round, the Cowboys won't begin until 58th overall in the second round on Friday.
Do you think that the Cowboys should be looking to draft a running back in this class or are you with Emmitt Smith that they should bolster other positions? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.