Dallas Cowboys Running Back Position: Apply From Within


By now, if you have not already processed it, the 2015 NFL Draft came and went and not a single running back was chosen by your beloved Dallas Cowboys.

Everybody’s All-Everything Todd Gurley and the next best option, Melvin Gordon, were gone before the first round was half over.  Round two saw two more rushers selected well before the Cowboys had their chance to pick.  Besides, the guy Dallas got in round two (defensive end Randy Gregory) was a better choice than either back anyways.

Rounds three and four saw would be Cowboys snatched up right before the option ever became a possibility.  Beyond that, the cupboard was bare.

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This, of course, sent Cowboys fans into a small state of shock and bewilderment. But honestly, Dallas did a good job of letting the draft come to them and not panicking.

Aside from the third round selection of offensive lineman Chaz Green instead of a slight reach for USC tail back Javorius Allen, there was probably not ever a better prospect at the position available then who the Cowboys ended up choosing in its stead.

Regardless, the results did not stop the talking heads from giving the Cowboys a lesser grade due to the lack of a back.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. gave Dallas a “C+” stating of the position:

"“It’s now two straight years we’ve seen the Cowboys drive the suspense factor and end up not picking a player at the position everyone is talking about. This year, it was passing on a running back after the departure of DeMarco Murray.  As to the big question mark, which was not selecting a running back, my sense is the Cowboys know there are many backs who will run effectively behind their offensive line, and you can add one on the cheap pretty easily.”"

SB Nation gave Dallas a “B” but made sure to scold the Cowboys writing:

"“…but the Cowboys lose points for failing to address the running back position. With Adrian Peterson trade talks reportedly dead, Jerry Jones is leaning far too heavily on the fragile lower body of Darren McFadden.”"

Kiper, to some degree, is correct.  There are many backs who will run effectively behind the Cowboys offensive line.  This is especially true with the addition of the free agent signing of La’el Collins.  Where he’s wrong though is that the Cowboys will look to add someone.

If the draft did not make things crystal clear, let me do it for them…

The Dallas Cowboys are quite content with what they have in house.

When you browse the options currently available, they probably should be.  Take a quick look at the best available free agents at the running back position.  It’s not exactly tantalizing.

Knowshon Moreno (28) has missed as many games as he is old over the last four seasons, making McFadden look like the Cal Ripken, Jr. of running backs.  Ahmad Bradshaw (29) is coming off a season-ending fractured fibula and a possible suspension for off the field issues.  No thanks.

Chris Johnson (30) wants to be on this team.  Don’t call us Chris, we’ll call you.  Pierre Thomas (31) and Steven Jackson (32) were done two years ago.

No one is saying that sticking with the quartet of McFadden, Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams and Lance Dunbar isn’t a risky move.  It certainly is.

It’s also the right move at this point.

None of these four running backs are going to be expected to replicate the 392 carries or 1,845 yards on their own.  As I said Sunday, if Randle gets 250 carries, that likely means he emerged as the number one option.  Using his career average of 4.8 yards per carry, that would translate to 1,200 yards which the Cowboys would be more than satisfied with.

Even if he, McFadden and either Dunbar or Williams each get 125 carries, it’s three guys with three different styles that the Cowboys can throw at opposing defenses to keep them guessing.

There is also the option, albeit unlikely, that the Cowboys leading rusher is an undrafted free agent.  Of the top 20 rushers last season, four (Arian Foster, Joique Bell, Chris Ivory and C.J. Anderson) all never heard their names called at their respective drafts.

Regardless of who is going to get the bulk of the carries, the likelihood is that the player is already on this roster. This organization has embraced it.  It’s time that the media and Cowboys’ fans as well do the same.

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