Cowboys Film Room: Rod Smith’s breakout

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /
1 of 3

After a career game on Sunday against the New York Giants, it’s hard not to be excited about Dallas Cowboys’ running back Rod Smith.

The third-year running back from Ohio State racked up 160 total yards and two touchdowns in the team’s 30-10 win. For a player who was hyped up so much throughout the offseason and through the preseason, it was refreshing to see him finally “break out”.

Since his huge performance in New York, everyone wants to know; who can we compare Smith to? What is his ceiling? What could he eventually be for the Cowboys? Before we get into what he may become and who he reminds me of, let’s dive into his background as a player and into the film.

Rod Smith was a coveted player coming out of high school in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was a four-star recruit who was the fourth-highest ranked running back in the nation for the class of 2010. He eventually decided to commit and enroll at Ohio State Univesity, in hopes to be the team’s starting running back.

However, Smith found himself in a crowded backfield nearly every season at Ohio State. Playing behind the likes of Carlos Hyde, Ezekiel Elliott, and Curtis Samuel, Smith didn’t see the field very often. Smith had just 104 carries in his four-year career for the Buckeyes. But his skill set wasn’t the reason he was off the radar.

In 2014, Smith failed a drug test during his fifth-year at Ohio State and was dismissed from the team. He ended up declaring for the draft, but he was not invited to the NFL Combine and was not drafted. He signed on with the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 draft and eventually made the team’s active roster. He was cut later that season and joined the Cowboys later in the 2015 season and went on to play 10 games.

After experimenting with him at fullback, Dallas eventually moved him back to running back after waving him multiple times in 2016. But during the 2017 offseason, the Cowboys decided to make that move permanent and began to groom him to be the team’s third running back.

On the field, Smith is talented and that’s easy to see. But as a runner, Smith is raw. He just hasn’t had a ton of experience carrying the ball. As you might expect, he has a lot of flaws in his rushing ability. Most of the time, he’s relying on his athletic ability to get him by.