This is the third installment of a series of articles evaluating the Dallas Cowboys current roster in anticipation of the April draft. This evaluation deals with the FB position.
The Cowboys have two fullbacks on the current roster.
Starter - Oliver Hoyte
Last year Bill Parcells converted rookie fullback Oliver Hoyte from linebacker to fullback. The Cowboys were planning to use a 2-TE set as the base formation and basically eliminate the standard FB position from their offense. The strategy was eventually abandoned and Parcells started to use Hoyte as a traditional FB. Hoyte's transformation from defense to offense was fairly successful on a limited basis. Hoyte proved very adept at one thing; blowing up a tackler when he made contact with him. In fact, in film reviews his blocks were sometimes one of the main highlights. But he still has some learning to do to fully grasp the position. There were occasions when he didn't pick up the correct defender leading to open shots by the defense on the Cowboys runners. He also has yet to prove he can be a full-service FB by contributing to the running game - even if it's just an occasional carry - and he hasn't proven yet that he can run routes and catch passes from the FB position. This isn't a real knock on Hoyte because he is just learning the position and he may be able to address those concerns after a training camp where he is used exclusively as a FB. But much is still unknown about his long-term potential as a FB.
Reserves - Lousaka Polite
Polite has hung around the Cowboys' roster for the past couple of years by being a serviceable FB. He appears to have a limited skill set that encompasses all the attributes you want in a FB, but he doesn't excel at any one thing. He can block, but isn't as physical as Hoyte in this area. He can catch the ball and make an occasional run but rarely makes a big play out of those chances. He's basically an insurance guy, someone you can plug-in and count on not to make big mistakes, but not someone you can count on to significantly help the offensive unit.
New OC Jason Garrett is a disciple of the Ernie Zampese/Norv Turner offense that served Dallas so well in the early `90s. If Garrett is serious about returning to those roots, he probably would like a more accomplished FB on the roster, or at least one that has the potential to service the offense like Moose Johnston did in his heyday. The Cowboys could use a little competition at this position, so the draft is a likely place to pick up a traditional FB. I would expect Dallas to at least take a shot on a FB in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft.