NFC East Q&A: Can Ezekiel Elliott match DeMarco Murray's production in Dallas?

Outlook for Ezekiel Elliott (1:05)

NFL Insider Dan Graziano talks about what makes Ezekiel Elliott such a special player. (1:05)

Today's question: Can Ezekiel Elliott have the same success with the Dallas Cowboys as DeMarco Murray had in 2014 and rush for more than 1,500 yards?

Dan Graziano, New York Giants: I really don’t see why not. From here, it looks as if Dallas is going to want to run the ball as much as possible and control time of possession the way they did two years ago. That and the fact Elliott shouldn’t have to come off the field on third downs because he’s a natural pass protector tells me he’s going to get more than enough opportunities behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. Murray is one easy comparison, sure, but how about Darren McFadden going for 1,089 last year? As long as he’s healthy, whoever is carrying the ball for Dallas should be able to put up monster numbers. Elliott is the early favorite for rookie of the year.

Phil Sheridan, Philadelphia Eagles: Absolutely. I just spent a season watching Murray in an offense that didn’t fit him and certainly didn’t inspire him. That Murray didn’t look much at all like the guy I saw twice a year with a star on his helmet. The Eagles were very high on Elliott in this draft. They were clearly dead set on getting a quarterback, but VP of football operations Howie Roseman described Elliott as the kind of difference-making back that is worth using a high draft pick on. Plug that kind of talent into an offense that made Murray look like Emmitt Smith and I’m guessing you’re going to get some pretty impressive results.

John Keim, Washington Redskins: As a rookie? I have a hard time with that one. Elliott will be asked to do so much as in his first season because of his third-down skills that it would be wise not to wear him down. As an Ohio State alum, I’m well aware of Elliott’s talent and impact and think he’s a terrific all-around back. But nobody rushed for 1,500 yards last year, and it has happened only 21 times in the previous 10 years combined. It’s tough –- and to do it as a rookie is rare. Only four rookies have surpassed 1,500 yards rushing since 1994 (Edgerrin James, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis and Alfred Morris). The latter, of course, is now Elliott’s teammate. But a big difference between them is that Elliott is much more well-rounded back, so he’ll stay in the game more on third downs. That means Dallas, if it’s smart, will give him more breaks. Having players such as Morris and Darren McFadden means the Cowboys don’t have to just pound Elliott all the time. He’ll be a very good back and I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpasses 1,200 yards. Just don’t wear him out in year one because he will eventually top that 1,500 mark.