Why Ezekiel Elliott may fit better than Dalvin Cook

Patriots Mailbag: Why Ezekiel Elliott may fit better than Dalvin Cook originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Patriots are out in Green Bay this week for joint practices with the Packers, and Tom E. Curran is on the scene as your eyes and ears. As for yours truly? Let’s fire up a mailbag to answer your pressing preseason Patriots questions.

Ezekiel Elliott’s toughness is what attracted the Patriots to him, which we covered in detail¬†here. Short yardage. Goal line. That was an area in which the team struggled in 2022.

While Dalvin Cook is the more explosive playmaker at this stage — and while he would’ve been a more valuable addition, in my opinion — he’s not what Elliott was last year as a tough-yardage runner.

On third and fourth down, with three yards or less to go for a first down, Cook was rarely used in Minnesota. He had six such attempts in 2022, and he picked up a first down on three of those (50 percent success rate, 38th among qualifiers). Elliott had 29 of those attempts with a success rate of 69 percent (16th among qualifiers).

On the goal line? More of the same. Elliott was better. On 11 attempts from the two-yard line or closer, he had eight touchdowns and his percentage of positive-EPA plays (81.8) was third-best in the NFL. On nine attempts for Cook, he had two touchdowns and a positive-EPA play percentage of just 22.2 percent.

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Is Cook a more dynamic player right now? In my opinion, yes. Is he more effective as a receiver? In my opinion, yes. But if the Patriots wanted a tough runner, they got the better one of these two options by signing Elliott.

The fact that he cost them less on top of it? Couldn’t have hurt.

Injuries…

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