Backup RB Target List

I was somewhat inspired by rabble’s Playing GM Series to write this post. I frequently read articles here on BtB, but rarely write, and writing this I understand why. It takes a lot of time get posts the way you want, and provide what I am hoping is good information. So all the front page writers, and those of you that frequent the FanPost section…THANK YOU! You are all amazing!

Anyway, I felt the need to play GM a little bit, and create a target list of 3-4 RBs that would fill the need of backup RB in a very economical way. One of the things that rabble pointed out is that we are looking for someone similar to Murray’s style instead of a change of pace back in the event Murray goes down. I will start with the list of UFA running backs, and try to eliminate a few based on age/money, comparability to Murray, and past performance.

First here is the list of UFA running backs according to RotoWorld (

Name Age Name Age
Chris Rainey 24 Steve Slaton 27
Felix Jones 25 Danny Woodhead 28
LaRod Stephens-Howling 25 Darius Reynaud 28
Mike Goodson 25 Kregg Lumpkin 28
Rashard Mendenhall 25 Tashard Choice 28
Ahmad Bradshaw 26 Bernard Scott 29
Cedric Peerman 26 Brian Leonard 29
Javon Ringer 26 Jackie Battle 29
Kahlil Bell 26 Jerome Harrison 29
Kevin Smith 26 Joseph Addai 29
Tim Hightower 26 Steven Jackson 29
Tyrell Sutton 26 Brandon Jacobs 30
Brandon Jackson 27 Cadillac Williams 30
Jalen Parmele 27 Cedric Benson 30
Justin Forsett 27 Mewelde Moore 30
Peyton Hillis 27 Ryan Grant 30
Rashad Jennings 27 Ronnie Brown 31
Reggie Bush 27 Stefan Logan 31
Shonn Greene 27 Thomas Jones 34

The first round of elimination is based on age and demand. I believe I would be looking for a modest 2-3 year deal to sign my backup running back to, so first cut would be any running back over the age of 27. We have seen what happens at the age of 30 for most running backs, and I do not want to pay anyone past that if I can help it. Thankfully with one slash we have eliminated 18 of the 38 candidates. Now we are going to look at demand. According to ProFootball Focus’ Ranking the FA Running Backs ( the top 5 for people still on the list are Ahmad Bradshaw, Reggie Bush, Rashard Mendenhall, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and Peyton Hillis. In addition, I am going to eliminate Felix Jones from the list for the exercise. That brings our total down to 14 UFA running backs.

Now let us move onto comparing the remaining 14 to Murray. I like the idea of finding someone that can compare to Murray’s speed, strength and agility, so I went to the Combine/Pro Day data to find the results of our remaining 14 UFA running backs and compare them to Murray.

Name 40 Yard Bench Press Vert Leap (in) Broad Jump (in) Shuttle 3Cone
DeMarco Murray 4.37 21 34.5 130 4.18 6.74
Steve Slaton 4.45 19 33.5 118 4.18 6.5
Javon Ringer 4.55 23 34 115 4.11 6.66
Chris Rainey 4.45 16 36 120 3.93 6.7
Tyrell Sutton 4.68 33 114 4.32 6.86
Jalen Parmele 4.47 19 34 125 4.29 6.87
Mike Goodson 4.46 14 39.5 118 4.22 6.89
Kahlil Bell 4.74 15 34.5 114 4.2 6.94
Rashad Jennings 4.59 29 34 120 4.2 6.99
Brandon Jackson 4.54 21 37 122 4.14 7
Cedric Peerman 4.34 27 40 117 4.29 7.1
Justin Forsett 4.62 26 31 117 4.46 7.15
Kevin Smith 4.53 32 120 4.49 7.28
Tim Hightower 4.59 20 31.5 115 4.46 7.29
Shonn Greene 4.62 19 37 121 4.4 6.87

I want to select a range for each "test", and make sure the candidates are within a percentage of Murray to move on. Here is what I chose:

  • 40 Yard Dash – No more than 5% Slower or 4.59 (eliminates Justin Forsett, Shonn Greene, Tyrell Sutton, and Kahlil Bell)
  • Bench Press – No more than 10% less or 19 (eliminates Mike Goodson, and Chris Rainey)
  • Vertical Leap – No more than 10% less or 31 (does not eliminate anyone remaining)
  • Broad Jump – No more than 10% less or 117 (eliminates Tim Hightower, and Javon Ringer)
  • Shuttle – No more than 5% slower or 4.39 (eliminates Kevin Smith)
  • 3 Cone Drill – No more than 5% slower or 7.08 (eliminates Cedric Peerman)

This leaves us with four candidates, which is within reason for a target list of backup running backs. I still want to look at their past performances, so here are the career stats for the remaining four (with Murray in there for comparison).

Name Games Rushes Per Game Yards YPG YPC TDs Fumbles 2012 PFF
DeMarco Murray 23.00 324.00 14.09 1,558.00 67.74 4.81 6.00 2.00 7.30
Steve Slaton 45.00 442.00 9.82 1,896.00 42.13 4.29 13.00 7.00 N/A
Brandon Jackson 54.00 355.00 6.57 1,383.00 25.61 3.90 7.00 - 2.30
Rashad Jennings 38.00 224.00 5.89 944.00 24.84 4.21 7.00 1.00 (5.00)
Jalen Parmele 35.00 47.00 1.34 187.00 5.34 3.98 - - (1.60)
Philip Tanner 23.00 47.00 2.04 137.00 5.96 2.91 1.00 - N/A
Lance Dunbar 12.00 21.00 1.75 75.00 6.25 3.57 - - N/A
Felix Jones 28.00 239.00 8.54 979.00 34.96 4.10 4.00 4.00 0.30

I added in Philip Tanner and Lance Dunbar’s career statistics so you can see what we currently have. I also added in the last two years of Felix Jones to show what we will be losing with Felix as the “backup”.

To me, it would look like in this exercise that Brandon Jackson would be one of the main targets for the Cowboys this year to fill the need cheaply. He has played the most games, has decent YPC, and has had a decent work-load (190 rushes in one year @ 3.7 YPC). None of these guys are without fault.

  • Brandon Jackson – Suffered Turf Toe in 2011 (out for season), and was inactive most of the time on the Browns in 2012
  • Steve Slaton – Was cut by the Texans in 2011, pickup by Dolphins. Only played 6 games in 2011 before going inactive. Dolphins resigned to a one-year deal in 2012, and cut him mid-season (didn’t play any games) after unsuccessfully attempting to trade to the Redskins. He worked out for the Bears, Lions, and Broncos last year but was not picked up.
  • Rashad Jennings – Had a knee injury in 2011 and was placed on IR even though he claimed he would have been ready by Week 7. Jaguars felt they didn’t need him I guess. Was hurt throughout 2012 with concussion and shoulder injuries.
  • Jalen Parmele – Had surgery in December 2012 to repair a partially torn groin. Reporter states he could be running few weeks after surgery. On top of that he is not much better than Philip Tanner or Lance Dunbar from production, so does it make sense to add another.

I hope everyone enjoyed this, I was a little surprised with the outcome. I was looking forward to Javon Ringer, Mike Goodson, and Cedric Peerman being on the final list. Of course all of the information provided doesn’t mean the Cowboys won’t look at them (somewhat hope they do), but for this particular exercise they fell short.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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