After a quiet free agent period, the Dallas Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL Draft with the opportunity to improve their football team and get younger. The goal of every draft is simple, get good football players and leave the draft with a better team. In essence, the Cowboys managed to do that and along the way they solved some needs, but also left some holes open.
If you wanted this franchise to answer every need with just six picks, well then you were going to come away disappointed. It's nearly impossible to do that, so we shouldn't expect even the best drafting teams to accomplish that feat.
The Cowboys accomplished some of their goals and found value along the way. While this isn't my favorite draft class in recent years, this year's haul is a solid one and the players acquired have the potential to all become contributors or starters.
It's extremely difficult and premature to grade a draft class this early, but the grading process is common in the NFL community. Even though we won't know how successful or unsuccessful a draft will be for a few years, I always follow up with my own grades.
Joseph Randle: A
Entering the draft, the Cowboys had a major need at running back. Felix Jones unfortunately was a bust and never amounted to the type of player Dallas envisioned when they drafted him in 2008. DeMarco Murray is by far the most talented running back this team has seen since Emmitt Smith, but his durability concerns forced them to find a capable backup who can fill in and offer depth.
Knowing that this year's draft class was deep at running back, the Cowboys opted to forgo spending money in free agency. This was a smart decision by management as they ended up with one of the top backs available in the draft.
In all honesty, when the Cowboys were on the clock I knew who the pick was going to be. Randle fit the criteria they were looking for and he was a pre-draft visit. The value here was insane, it's not often you can land a player in the fifth round who came from a big school and produced the way Randle did.
This pick earns an A because Dallas got the player they wanted, most likely he was the best player available on their board who fit a need and the value was too good to pass up on.
Randle doesn't boast elite speed (4.6 at the combine, 4.5 at his pro day), but he does play faster than his timed speed indicates and he actually does show some burst in the 10-15 yard range. His 35 inch vertical, 10'03" broad jump and 4.25 short shuttle do offer some numerical evidence that Randle has the athleticism to necessary to play in the NFL. Typically slower running backs have trouble in the NFL, but like Alfred Morris this is the type of runner who could thrive on the next level.
Productive in the passing game, Randle continues the Cowboys' tradition of running backs who can catch the football. Dallas continues to look for receivers out of the backfield and they now have a handful of them on the roster. Randle also excels in pass protection, which is something that Dallas is definitely high on.
Physically, Randle (6'0, 204) does have similar size to DeMarco Murray and both have an upright running style. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy is a physical runner who has some wiggle ability and "make-you-miss". You can see in some of his 2012 tape that he wanted to bulk up, become more physical and run through his opponents. Randle has no durability issues and didn't miss a game in college, not one.
This is a player who produced 43 touchdowns and over 3,085 yards rushing in just three seasons. He has a nose for the end zone, which is something the Cowboys desperately need to see more from their running game.