Dallas Cowboys: Do the Cowboys need a fullback in 2021?

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys are in the midst of making some pretty important decisions regarding their final 53-man roster. Anyone who doesn’t make the cut will hit wavers, allowing other teams a chance to poach them before Dallas can even think about including them on the practice squad.

As such, it’s smart business to secure anyone and everyone you absolutely cannot live without. One of those players is Dallas Cowboys’ rookie fullback, Nick Ralston.

Ralston qualifies as both a bubble guy and someone many of us Dallas Cowboys fans cannot live without. The 6-foot-1, 240lb fullback out of Louisiana came to the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent. But he quickly elevated his status by becoming an ideal short yardage specialist, special team contributor, and best lead blocker on the team.

Should the Dallas Cowboys keep a fullback on the roster this year or nah?

Many Dallas Cowboys fans have been clamoring for a legit fullback for years now. With memories of “Moose” Johnston dancing in our heads, we see the value of pairing a strong lead blocker with an elite ball carrier. But the Dallas Cowboys haven’t exactly shared that same nostalgic affinity for fullback. And have typically treated the position like that of punter – as a replaceable part.

The Cowboys only trotted out 2 RB sets (which includes fullback sets) only 24 times last season. That’s less than twice a game. But things may change in 2021 for a couple reasons

The abnormally low number 2RB personnel was surprising given Mike McCarthy’s FB use in Green Bay over the year. He’s frequently leaned on fullbacks in different areas of the game including short yardage, lead blocking, and receiving (although he rarely used the FB in 2018). As he and Kellen Moore merge ideas, we can probably expect more 2RB sets.

Speaking of Kellen Moore, Moore himself has used 2RB personnel frequently in the past. Looking back to the “before times” of 2019, we can see Kellen Moore used 21, 22, 20, and 23 personnel a total of 127 times

That’s nearly eight snaps per game, roughly six times more than they did last year. And with a success rate of nearly 50%, it paid off that season. Which is why it was so puzzling they abandoned it 2020. But nothing in 2020 really made sense. Dak was lost. The O-line was lost. The defense was inept. Nothing went right so everything kinda went out the window.

But things are back on track in 2021. And with that, we should expect a return to the game plan. Working in Nick Ralston’s favor are two things:

  1. Special teams play
  2. Lack of other options at FB and TE.

To the first point, Mike McCarthy had this to say about the fullback position earlier in the month:

"“Really the competition between the tight end, the fullback, and the versatility, special teams, always play a factor in that. That’s what happened to the fullback position because, if you look at it from a business standpoint, the fullback position, if the guy doesn’t play special teams he going to play maybe five, six snaps a game.”"

Nick Ralston has been carving out a role on special teams this preseason so we can put a check by that box right now.

The second point speaks to the depth at his position and the position that’s most similar in job responsibilities (TE). His main competition for the FB job in camp was Sewo Olonilua. But Sewo was placed on IR last week leaving Nick as the lone option at FB. TE also suffered a loss when TE3 favorite, Sean McKeon, went down to injury himself.

This opens the door (temporarily) at TE3. Jeremy Sprinkle didn’t do himself any favors in the last game, potentially opening the door for Nick Ralston to play with two hats from time to time. Being a fullback/H-back Ralston could take on some of those TE3 duties early this season.

On paper, it doesn’t look like the Dallas Cowboys need a FB on their roster. They barely used one last year and historically their best success came when Tony Pollard was the extra running back, not a traditional FB. But Nick Ralston is a better player than they’ve had in the past. And his versatility packaged with his special teams play make him a solid move in 2021.

Related Story. These final decisions loom for the Cowboys. light

Next. Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster prediction (final cut edition). dark

Nick Ralston looks like the best fullback they’ve had in a while and the Dallas Cowboys offense has a history of using fullbacks so our money is on this fringe player making the team in 2021. What do you think?

  • Published on 08/25/2021 at 16:01 PM
  • Last updated at 08/25/2021 at 13:34 PM