The Dallas Cowboys State of the Running Game

The Dallas Cowboys are in good shape with a healthy DeMarco Murray but that’s where it stops there.  In his two seasons, he has not been healthy.  From his ankle injury that saw him placed on injured reserve towards the end of the 2011 season; to the foot injury that kept him out of much of this past season.  Murray has been all he has been billed as when he running healthy.  He averages 4.8 yards per carry and we could have seen him have two 1,000 rushing yards seasons if weren’t for those pesky injuries.  In 2011, he had 897 yards in 13 games while having 663 yards in 2012 for 10 games.  He has the speed, the maneuverability, and the traits to be one of the Cowboy all-time great running backs.

It is this writer’s opinion that the Cowboys look at drafting themselves another running back.  Spend a 3rd or 4th round pick on a solid running back.  The Cowboys will already need to spend their first pick on a defensive player and the 2nd pick should go on a quarterback of the future.  Dallas has several options to look over.

Here is a list of the top 5 3rd Round Projections:

–          Andre Ellington from Clemson: He runs a 4.61 40 yard dash.  He is immediately a red flag due to the fact that he injured himself during the Combine plus he has had injury problems in his career while at Clemson.  As tempting it would be to have another player running the football, we don’t want another running back that we have to worry about being injured.

–          Montee Ball from Wisconsin: He was a Heisman finalist but projected as a 3rd round pick.  Ball in his final season at Wisconsin ran for 1,923 yards with 39 touchdowns.  Not bad for a projected 3rd round pick.   Here is the kicker….he has some character issues including a May arrest and another in June.  Despite the character issues, I would think he would be worth a serious look at.  Team owner Jerry Jones is used to having to deal with characters on the team.

–          Stepfan Taylor from Stanford: This kid is worth a look just by stats alone.  In 2 full seasons as the starting running back he accumulated over 4,000 yards (2,779 in ’10, 1,330 in ’11 respectively).  According to draft reports, he is a solid receiver out of the backfield and doesn’t mind blocking.  Two positives about him that the Cowboys could use especially since Romo has to resort to throwing the little dump passes to the running back from time to time.

–          Christine Michael from Texas A&M: I am usually pretty high on players coming out of College Station but not so much out of Michael.  Not only did he overslept and missed some team interviews at the Combine but during his senior season displayed an attitude towards Ken Sumlin, the head coach.  For that, he was in Sumlin’s doghouse all season long.  Despite his physical attributes, he wouldn’t be worth the risk.  Montee Ball has his character issues but Ball wasn’t suspended for violating team rules and was benched for poor pass blocking like Michael was.  I would love to see an Aggie in a blue star, but this time I would have to say pass on this one.

–          Le’veon Bell from Michigan: Bell has the build of a running back, the tenacity to run the ball like a running back but he lacks that breakaway speed, this according to draft reports.  He would make a great complimentary back to Murray but he is definitely not a starter in the NFL.  Let the professional coaches have at him for a couple of seasons working on his speed and he should be in great shape to start then.  Until then, the Cowboys should take a look at this kid.

These are the top 5 3rd or 4th round running backs; I would like to see Dallas draft Stepfan Taylor or Montee Ball.  If both were on the board and it was my selection, my choice would be Taylor.  Taylor seems more of a complete back and would complement Murray in a great number of ways.

Dec 30, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (22) warms up before the start of the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Going to free agency for a running back is not what the Cowboys need to do.  The best bet would Ahmad Bradshaw and this only because he is 26 years old.  Age makes a world of difference as a running back, having a Reggie Bush or a Steve Jackson or Rashard Mendenhall would be great.  Here is the reality of those guys; the Cowboys don’t have the cap room to afford them.  Drafting a young player would be more practical and affordable for Dallas.

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