Could Newcomer Ed Wesley Be A Wildcard In Cowboys Running Back Battle?

Ed Wesley looks pretty good running the football in Cowboys Stadium, but can he make the 53-man roster?

Darrell Scott went from one of the highest rated high school players in the nation to an undrafted free agent. Now the former USF running back doesn't get a chance to make his mark in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys because he was released earlier this week after failing a team physical. With the extra roster spot, the Cowboys' front office decide to make a move and add another running back to the fold.

It's going to be a long and difficult journey in order for Wesley to make the 53-man roster. The Cowboys' running back situation is shaping up to be one of their most talented groupings in a very long time. Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Ed Wesley each offer something unique to the Cowboys and the running back situation.

So who exactly is Ed Wesley, and what do the Cowboys potentially have in the undrafted running back? Take the jump to find out more about our newest Dallas Cowboy.

Wesley was a productive running back during his career for a talented TCU team. He redshirted in 2008, but Wesley played a valuable role on the TCU scout team and was named the Most Valuable Player on the offensive scout team. Even if he doesn't make the 53-man roster, Wesley could make an impact on the scout team, and that is an overlooked aspect of football.

In 2009, Wesley established himself as legitimate running back. He ran for 653 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and scoring 7 touchdowns. His 137-yard performance against Utah was the first 100-yard rushing performance by a Horned Frog running back since 2005.

Wesley had a breakout performance during his sophomore season in 2010. He was a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection, and he was a semi-finalist for the Doak Walker Award. Wesley rushed for 1,078 yards on 166 carries, averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns. His 1,000 yard performance was the first for a TCU running back since 2003.

TCU used three different running backs and went with a platoon system to keep their runners fresh. While all three running backs rushed for over 700 yards, it prevented Wesley from producing a higher volume of statistics during his junior season in 2010. Regardless of the running back situation, Wesley still managed to produce. He ran for 726 yards on 120 carries, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scoring 6 touchdowns.

For a running back in a timeshare, Wesley managed to produce an average 6.3 yards per carry for his career. According to Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News, Wesley decided to forgo his senior season and enter the supplemental draft because he wanted to make money in order to help his mother out.

Wesley was concerned because Gates suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and is battling cancer. In fact, it was Gates’ medical condition that pushed Wesley to forgo his senior season at TCU and enter the NFL’s supplemental draft earlier this month.

"I tried to take a big step in my life and try to make some change," Wesley said. "Hopefully, she’ll be able to stress a little bit less and make all of her doctor’s appointments and lean on me a little bit. It feels the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It makes you work a little bit harder…It pushes you."

That is sad because a young man sacrificed his education in order to financially help out his sick mother. It may have been a better decision financially if Wesley returned to school. He could have improved his draft stock and received more money had he been drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft, but it's clear that he made this decision to help his mother out immediately.

Wesley didn't have a great pro day and measured in at 5-8, 196 pounds. He ran in the 4.6 and 4.7 range in the 40 yard dash, but a scout who attended his pro day made a pretty valid point about the lack of speed that day.

"Look, he wasn't in tip-top shape. And the forty time is slower than you'd like, especially for a back of that size. But we could see on tape that he wasn't a burner."

"The reality is it isn't fair to compare this guy who has had a couple of weeks to prepare for his Pro Day to guys drafted in April who had three times as long before their workouts."

Draft guru Rob Rang of CBSSports.com also showed some support for Wesley and downplayed the significance of the 40 yard dash for running backs.

Straight-line speed, however, is far from the only way of determining a running back's talent. Some believe, in fact, that the speed demonstrated by running in shorts in a direct line may be the most overrated element in grading backs. Vision, lateral agility, balance and burst are four traits I personally value more than a 40-yard dash time when it comes to grading potential NFL ball-carriers.

Rang also gives us the opportunity to see where Wesley would have ranked had he performed his pro day results at the 2012 NFL Combine.

As you'll see, Wesley's workout wasn't nearly as poor as some have suggested.

Three Cone Drill: 6.91-6.93 seconds (4th among 28 backs at the 2012 Combine, notably faster than David Wilson -- 7.09 or Isaiah Pead -- 6.95)

Short Shuttle: 4.18-4.21 seconds (tied for 9th among 28 backs tested at 2012 Combine)

Long Shuttle: 11.68-11.73 seconds (would have ranked 6th among the nine who tested in this event at the Combine)

Bench Press: 19 repetitions of 225 pounds (tied for 11th)

Broad Jump: 9'6 (tied for 10th)

Vertical Jump: 34" (tied for 9th)

Not too bad for a running back who went undrafted right? Unfortunately there isn't too much tape of him available on YouTube. Most of what I remember about Wesley is just off of my memory of watching him play at TCU.

Below is my brief scouting report on Wesley.

Positives

  • Excellent vision and instincts
  • Makes quick decisions when he has to, doesn't "dance" around too much
  • Patient waiting for his blockers, knows when to wait for the running lanes and blocks to setup
  • Good acceleration and burst
  • Can bounce it outside
  • Can break tackles
  • Physical for his size
  • One-cut runner who could thrive in the right system

Negatives

  • Has issues with ball security (11 fumbles, 9 lost during career at TCU)
  • Lacks elite top end speed
  • Needs to improve as a receiver on the next level
  • Needs to bulk up and add more weight to his frame
  • Doesn't possess "make-you-miss ability"
  • Would like to see him become even more physical
  • Must become a better pass protector

Wesley has enough athletic ability to make it in the NFL, but he must improve in a few areas. He will probably have to perform as a third-down running back, and that will include catching the ball out of the backfield, short yardage situations and pass protection. Just because he lacks great speed doesn't make him a bad running back. You can have all of the speed in the world, but if you don't have the vision, you will never make it in the NFL. Wesley has fantastic vision, so that is something he must build his other skills around.

Nick Eatman got to talk with Wesley about his excitement of joining the Cowboys, but they also talked about the disappointment of not being selected in the supplemental draft that was held recently.

"I’m really excited about this opportunity" said Wesley, who was wearing the same No. 35 worn by Scott the previous day. "I’ve got to calm my mom down. She’s a little too excited about it. But she was the one who told me the Cowboys had called to sign me."

"I really thought I was going to get picked up," said Wesley, who worked out for 14 teams in the last two weeks, including the Cowboys. "Obviously I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be in at the time. But it also gave me a little time to think about how I was going about things and improve what I was doing. I started to get in shape a little better. And I’m here now. I’m just blessed to be in the city where I graduated high school from."

Wesley didn't have to travel too far from local Irving, Texas when he went to college at TCU. Now the Irving product is back at home playing for the team he grew up rooting for. Wesley may never make this football team, the odds aren't in his favor, but he clearly has the college production and some athletic ability that suggests he could make it in the NFL.

I absolutely love Phillip Tanner and his physical running style, but he is not a lock to make the team as the #3 RB. Lance Dunbar is an athletic running back from North Texas that was brought in to compete as well. Whoever wins this job is going to be the best player, and right now, I couldn't tell you who that is because I haven't seen any of them play an actual game yet.

Wesley, Tanner and Dunbar all hail from the great state of Texas, and each running back brings something unique to the roster. The running back battle is officially beginning to heat up, and with the addition of Wesley to the fold, the Cowboys now have three very talented running backs fighting for just one roster spot.

Training camp can't get here soon enough......let the games begin!

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