Cris Carter explains why he expects Ezekiel Elliott to have a ‘tremendous’ year next season with the Cowboys

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In his discussion with Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe, Cris Carter explains why he expects Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott to have a superb year next season alongside Dak Prescott.

- I think Zeke's going to have a tremendous year. I think he's more free. Some of the things that Jerry said, this is the most freedom he's had since he left Ohio State. And also, when he left Ohio State and then the draft process, he had some injuries. He had the amazing rookie year. Nick, you talked about he had 1,100 yards on first down in that rookie year. We know last year was interrupted by the six-game suspension.

But all the other things that he couldn't do, as far as couldn't go into public. He couldn't be himself. Zeke is a fun, loving guy, laughing, jovial. Love to have him around. You couldn't see that from Zeke last year because what he was charged-- what he was accused of-- he wasn't charged with anything. He didn't commit a crime.

But what he was accused of and then being in violation of the NFL's program, it took a lot away from his overall personality, his overall spirit. He's never had that type of scrutiny or had those types of things said about him. So yes, absolutely, he'll feel a lot free.

But the Dallas Cowboys, it's a matter of who is going to create these other big plays? I know Zeke is going to play well. Like, I expect him to play well. But it's those other players-- their wide receivers, their tight ends. Can they stretch the field? Can they make enough big plays? They will determine what type of success.

It's nice to have a question, oh, Zeke, what's he going to do? This is the most-- Zeke will have his best year, even if it doesn't equate to numbers. Tyron Smith, the left tackle, he's healthy for the first time in a couple of years. So I look for Zeke to have a great year.

- I think the only path the Cowboys have to the playoffs is Ezekiel Elliott having the type of year where, around Thanksgiving, you're asking the question, CC, Nick, is Ezekiel Elliott the NFL MVP? I think it's that level of year he has to have, similar to what Todd Gurley had last year.

And by the way, Todd Gurley's year, an MVP-caliber year wouldn't have been good enough if they didn't get good production out of Sammy Watkins, if they didn't get at least average production out of the defense led by Aaron Donald. We saw Zeke his rookie season, played 15 games, account for just short of 2,000 yards from scrimmage, and 16 touchdowns.

I-- I don't see the weapons on offense for explosive plays outside of Zeke. And I don't look at the Cowboys as a team, oh, as long as we get to 17, we got it because the defense is going to hold on under that. I look at this team as a team with an average defense, that has a good defensive line, one really good linebacker who's hurt all the time, and a below-average secondary. I look at his team as a team with a great offensive line, a great running back, NFC-wise, a below-average quarterback, and one of the worst wide receiver-tight end groups as far as proven production in the NFL.

So I'm going to rely on their best player, just like before the Vikings got Randy Moss, before Jake Reed came into his own, teams knew when Warren Moon was there-- guess what the Vikings game plan is on offense? Throw to Cris Carter. Great players can beat that.

He can still set the catch record. Great players can say, you know what we're doing. We are still going to go do it. That's what the offensive line and Ezekiel Elliott are going to have to do.

- Does that apply to Ezekiel Elliott?

- Oh, I think he's-- listen, I'm not saying he's a Hall of Famer, like Cris is, but he is on that trajectory. And his rookie year was that of a Hall of Famer. And he's a great player.

- If Ezekiel Elliott doesn't end up in the Hall of Fame, then he's had a disappointing career. He has that type of ability, to be able to run between the tackles, catch the ball out of the back field, tremendous blocker on third down. He has no weakness in his game.

You can give him the ball anywhere on the field, and he's one of the few running backs that can score. Him and Todd Gurley, not only do they have the power, the elusiveness, but they have the speed that is unique to the position. He's almost 6 foot. He's a big dude. He is built for the NFL and running the football in the NFL.