FRISCO, Texas --  It's never been more clear that the present day NFL is all about offense than it was Thursday night for the opening round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Twenty-three of the first round's 32 picks were offensive players, the most ever in an NFL Draft's first round, and that figure included 14 consecutive picks used on offensive players to begin the draft, the most picks in a row on one side of the ball at any point in a single NFL Draft all time. 

However, none of those picks were running backs, a position in which the Dallas Cowboys have a gaping hole thanks to 2023 starter Tony Pollard departing for the Tennessee Titans in free agency this offseason after signing a three-year, $21.8 million contract. Rico Dowdle, a 2020 undrafted free agent, and 2023 sixth-round pick Deuce Vaughn are currently the Cowboys' one-two punch at the position on their running back depth chart. Dallas' desperation at the position is so high they reconnected with former running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had the worst year of his career in 2023 with the New England Patriots.  

The Cowboys also clearly had a draft crush on Texas Longhorns running back Jonathon Brooks, a prospect CBS Sports HQ NFL analyst Rick Spielman, the Minnesota Vikings general manager from 2006-2021 (16 seasons), also identified as the 2024 NFL Draft's top running back

"In my 30 years, I thought it was the best interview that I've ever interviewed with a player," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said late Thursday at the team's post-Round 1 press conference. "He's [Brooks] outstanding. He's just outstanding. He's a great football player. We've got him high, high, high. And he's a good player." 

His son Stephen, the Cowboys COO and executive vice president, then elbowed him, saying "you're showing the [draft] board!"

Dallas never had the chance to select Brooks at pick No. 56 since the Carolina traded up six spots from 52nd overall to 46th overall to select the Texas Longhorn. Brooks being the first running back off the board at 46th overall makes the 2024 draft the second-latest the first running back had ever come off the board, ahead of only the 2014 draft (Bishop Sankey 56th overall). 

The 2023 Second Team All-Big 12 running back averaged 129.5 scrimmage yards per game in 2023, the second-most in the Big 12, thanks to the six-foot, 216-pound back's combination of speed, agility and acceleration. Brooks' ability to make a single cut and then float to the outside before accelerating into the open field appears to be magical. Last November at TCU, he was on fire with 104 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on 21 carries, but his final collegiate season was cut short by a torn ACL injury he suffered in the fourth quarter that night. 

No team possessed more information about Brooks' rehabilitation process than the Cowboys because Dallas' team doctor Dan Cooper performed the running back's ACL surgery. 

"I would echo Jerry's thoughts," Stephen said. "I got to sit with him as well. He's outstanding and certainly I think he's working his tail off to get that knee [right]. He's good friends with our guy [2023 third-round pick out of Texas, linebacker DeMarvion] Overshown [who tore his ACL in Cowboys training camp last year], so I think they're taking notes on each other's knees and how they're coming along. They're competitive like that. But like Jerry said, he's one hell of a football player and was having a great year for Texas, and it's unfortunate that he had the knee injury but after visiting with him, you're betting on him."

Brooks is also dealing with the death of his father, who died in 2022 at age 49 after complications with kidney failure. 

"A tough year," Jerry said. "He lost his dad and of course hurt his knee, and that's obviously one of the roughest times being in athletics, is coming off an injury. He's a good player." 

After all the gushing about Brooks, Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay curtly ended the conversation about Brooks, which also put a wrap on Thursday night's late night media session. 

"And one of several great players that are still left in this draft," McClay said dryly.

Dallas possesses four picks on Day 3 of the 2024 NFL Draft:  a fifth (No. 174), a sixth (No. 216) and two sevenths (No. 233 and No. 244) . After the public love fest about Brooks and him being taken 10 picks before them, Jones remained steadfast about his love for Brooks. 

"Well, I have such an appreciation for him [Brooks], and like I said last night, I think he is going to be an outstanding, outstanding player," Jones said. "I'm going to tell you something: 'The Cowboys can't get all the outstanding players.' I'm being trite when I say that, but that's when you're looking at them from a little bit afar. The day they put the Star on their helmet through the draft like I said, then that's a different look. These guys really in general represent themselves really well. He was outstanding."

While some believe Jones was inflating Brooks' stock to trick teams into reaching for him, he maintained everything he has said about Brooks is genuine. 

"No, I really mean it," Jones said when asked if he was smoke-screening on Thursday or artificially inflating Brooks' value. "I didn't realize talking about a player like that that was still on the board and hadn't been drafted. I didn't have a problem. I don't think it hurts our chances or helps theirs for me to talk about what a great interview we had. There are some good running backs out there I would like to have on the Dallas Cowboys."