With a top five rusher currently in place, is running back really a pressing need for the Dallas Cowboys this offseason?
Last season, the Dallas Cowboys attempted to replace the league’s leading rusher with a running back by committee. With two of it’s three members released at mid-season, that experiment was an outright failure. Luckily, the Cowboys were bailed out by the resurgent play of a former first round pick in Darren McFadden.
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McFadden finished last season with 1,089 yards and three touchdowns. That’s despite only starting in 10 of his 16 played games. But even with his initial limited playing time, McFadden finished fourth in the league in rushing in 2015.
McFadden could have easily eclipsed the NFL’s top rusher from last season, Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson, who gain just 396 more rushing yards than him. In fact, Rookie of the Year winner, St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley finished the year with only 17 more rushing yards than Run DMC, although the first-year phenom started in two more games.
The fact is McFadden played well. And he is under contract for another year in Dallas. If McFadden had been named the starter from the beginning of the season, he would have likely threaten Murray’s monster numbers from the previous year. So is finding another running back really a priority for Dallas this offseason? One longtime Cowboys columnist doesn’t think so.
"“It wouldn’t make sense to use a high pick on a running back, maybe a low one,” replied Tim Cowlishaw during a chat on the Dallas Morning New’s website. “The mere fact you can go grab McFadden cheap and get the production you got from him while the passing game is terrible tells the Cowboys they don’t need to spend on a running back. Lot of other more pressing needs.”"
Although finding a running back to pair with McFadden might not be a pressing need, it is certainly a need. That’s mainly due to the 28-year old’s extensive injury history. In his eight year career, most of which was spent as a member of the Oakland Raiders, McFadden has only finished an entire 16-game season twice. Luckily for Dallas, that has happened in his last two seasons.
Considered by many to be a draft bust, McFadden was chosen fourth overall in the 2008 NFL Draft after dominating college football as a member of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Unfortunately, injuries robbed him of playing in a total of 29 games in his first six years as a professional. A free agent last year, many considered McFadden damaged goods. And the fact that he had only once rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first seven years in the NFL before coming to Dallas didn’t make his signing very noteworthy at the time.
But now, with a legitimate workhorse in place, the Cowboys are tasked with reinforcing the position. Whether that’s a priority or not is really up to the team.
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