Dallas Cowboys: Six Mid-Round Draft Successes

3 of 6

Oct 19, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) after a 31-21 victory against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Murray broke the NFL record with 7+ consecutive games with 100+ yards. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarco Murray | RB | Round 3 | 2011

In the last ten years the Cowboys have only had a running back feature in the top ten most rushing yards twice. It was 2013 and 2014. Both times it was DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys have hardly been known for their running game since the departure of Emmitt Smith. Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

DeMarco Murray joined the Cowboys in 2011 as the third string back but by the time the year was over he was first choice. He averaged 5.5 yards per attempt in his rookie year- only bettered by quarterback Cam Newton for the Carolina Panthers with 5.6. Injury ruled Murray out for six games of 2012 leaving the Cowboys with running back by committee stats.

Murray’s 2013 year has mixed emotions. He was frustrated with injury, an NFL fine and head coach Jason Garrett‘s play calling. The Cowboys abandoned the run game on too many occasions. Murray had three games with over 100 yards but Garrett chose to often to leave the ball in Romo’s hand.

When former Lions coach Scott Linehan joined the Cowboys at the start of 2014 it was expected to be more of the same. At the Lions Linehan had a passing bias reputation- who wouldn’t with a gunslinging quaterback in Matthew Stafford and the leagues best receiver in Calvin Johnson?

However a second back surgery for quarterback Tony Romo in the offseason left the team with little choice at times but to hand off to Murray. And boy did that work. Murray finished the season as the NFL offensive player of the year and broke Emmitt Smith’s single season rushing record.

With Murray due to be a free agent in the coming weeks the Cowboys could be forced to rethink or at least rebuild their running strategy again. If Murray does return to the team can he remain as productive?

Next: Round 5: Under Appreciated Cornerback Gem