Will the Dallas Cowboys draft a running back in 2018?

DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 29: Mark Walton
DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 29: Mark Walton /

Since the days of Lance Dunbar, the Dallas Cowboys haven’t had a major receiving threat out of the backfield. Will they draft one in 2018?

When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, they knew they were getting the whole package. Elliott is a true three-down back who can run, pass block and catch the ball with the best of them.

But during Zeke’s two-year run in Dallas, his receiving skills have widely been ignored. And that is likely due to the fact the Cowboys are committed to running the ball first. And their reliance on Elliott to be their workhorse cuts down on those pass catching opportunities.

In fact, the Cowboys haven’t had a real receiving threat out of the backfield since the days of Lance Dunbar. But that nearly changed last season.

During the 2017 NFL Draft, Dallas was rumored to be interested in San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round. But Pumphrey ended up being selected by the Philadelphia Eagles, who traded up one pick ahead of the Cowboys to select him. Dallas went on to draft North Carolina wide receiver/returner Ryan Switzer instead.

But the fact remains, the Cowboys nearly drafted a complementary running back last season who could also serve as a receiving threat out of the backfield. And with this offseason’s declaration to make their offense more “Dak-Friendly” moving forward, acquiring a young running back with that skill set in the upcoming draft makes perfect sense.

"“If the Cowboys look to the draft to add a complementary back for Ezekiel Elliott, [Mike] Mayock sees several middle-round fits,” wrote Chase Goodbread for NFL.com. “He mentioned Miami’s Mark Walton, N.C. State’s Nyheim Hines, Northwestern’s Justin Jackson and Colorado’s Phillip Lindsay as RBs who could provide a change of pace for Dallas.”"

Of all the names listed above, Mark Walton out of Miami maybe the most intriguing. Expected to be a very late round selection or possibly even undrafted, Walton seems to be the kind of player that the Cowboys normally take a flier on.

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Walton missed a majority of his final season with the Hurricanes last year due to an ankle injury. That means he’s likely extremely undervalued. Prior to the injury, the junior was on pace for a record-breaking season. Walton posted 428 rushing yards and three scores in four games, averaging a ridiculous 7.6 per yards carry. The 5-foot-9, 205 pound running back prospect also caught 56 receptions for 624 yards and two scores during his time in Miami.