We've seen just how important DeMarco Murray can be for the Dallas Cowboys. Even with a offensive line that has trouble blocking consistently, Murray's running ability brings another element to the offense. The offensive line needs to block better, but the Cowboys need to add another running back who can share the load.
When the Cowboys drafted Murray back in 2011, the war room really found a steal. Make no mistake about it, DeMarco Murray has the potential to be an elite running back, but his injuries have prevented him from being that elite player. Jason Garrett loves what he can do for his offense, but he is aware that the durability concerns are real.
"We need to have more balance on our offense and a healthy running back has a lot to do with that," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said at the owners meetings in Phoenix. "When DeMarco has played for us the last couple of years we have been at our best on offense -- a more balanced attack. He just does a real good job for us running the football, catching the ball. A lot of things he brings to the offense just helps our team."
"But he has been out. We have to be honest with that. We need another guy."
The running back position is going to see some openings this offseason. Felix Jones is probably on his way out of Dallas because he never lived up to his potential and suffered numerous injuries throughout his career in Dallas. Jerry Jones took a chance on Felix but it never worked out. It's unfortunate, but that's just the way the cookie crumbled for Felix Jones in Dallas. Even though he could leave via free agency, Jerry isn't ruling out the possibility of bringing him back.
"We've got to look at the backup backfield," Jerry Jones said. "You can't dismiss Felix. I don't want to dismiss him from our thinking."
Looking over the current roster, the Cowboys have Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar behind Murray on the depth chart. Tanner has a physical running style that could blend well with Murray, but he will probably be passed over by another draft pick. The Cowboys do like what they have in Dunbar. His versatility as a returner, receiver and his speed make for an interesting combination.
While Tanner and Dunbar are good players, it's become clear that you need two running backs who have the ability to become the workhorse or share the load together. Injuries are common at running back because it's a position that takes a pounding on the body.
If you listen to the characteristics Garrett described, we can get a good feel for what the Cowboys will be looking for in the draft.
"We don't think you can have a guy who is fragile who just can't handle the physical demands of the position. You want a dynamic player certainly. You want a guy who is a great runner. You want a guy who in situations can block on third down, a guy who catch passes for you out of the back field and you want the best player. But we do understand the importance of having a bigger guy, a guy you can hand the ball too, a guy who can control the game a little bit for you."
The Cowboys are going to look for a running back who fits that criteria. This isn't a great running back class, but the 2013 NFL Draft does offer Dallas an opportunity to bring in another running back. It probably won't be an early pick, but after the second round we could see the war room spend a mid-round pick on a running back with the durability the team values.