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Do Cowboys Need To "Chase" A Running Back In The Draft This Year?

If this year's running back class is indeed exceptionally deep, does that mean that there'll be value at the position late in the draft or will a lot of quality backs be picked early?

John Moore/Getty Images

There's been a lot of talk in recent days about the Cowboys possibly trading up in the first round to get a running back. There's been even more talk about the Cowboys needing to pick a running back in the second round.

There were even arguments being made that if the Cowboys were willing to give up a pick, say a second-rounder, for Adrian Peterson in a trade with the Vikings, then they should invest that exact pick to trade up in the first round for their running back of choice.

All three scenarios (scenarii for the cognoscenti) would have the Cowboys chasing a running back. And chasing any given position, or any given player, is the cardinal sin in any draft.

Adding fuel to the fire of the notion that the Cowboys need to strike early if they are to get a running back are statements found with increasing frequency among Cowboys fans like the following:

"There will be four running backs taken in the first round."

"The top six guys will all be gone by pick No. 60."

"There will be 10 running backs drafted in the first two days of the draft."

Yet that kind of hyperbole seems to be largely limited to Cowboys fan circles. Mel Kiper for example has only three running backs going in the first two rounds in his latest mock draft:

Round Pick Player Team
19 Todd Gurley Browns
24 Melvin Gordon Cardinals
Second 36 Tevin Coleman Jaguars
Third 76 Jay Ajayi Vikings
83 Ameer Abdullah Chargers
88 Duke Johnson Lions
91 Jeremy Langford Cowboys
96 David Johnson Patriots

And Kiper is not alone in his assessment. Here's a selection of recent mock drafts, and where they see the running backs going.

CBS BTSC Drafttek Draftsite Walter Draftcountdown
First Melvin Gordon Melvin Gordon Todd Gurley Melvin Gordon Todd Gurley Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley Melvin Gordon Melvin Gordon Melvin Gordon
Second Tevin Coleman Jay Ajayi Jay Ajayi Todd Gurley T.J. Yeldon Jay Ajayi
Todd Gurley Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman Tevin Coleman
Jay Ajayi Duke Johnson Duke Johnson Ameer Abdullah
David Johnson
Third Ameer Abdullah David Johnson Ameer Abdullah Ameer Abdullah Duke Johnson Ameer Abdullah
Duke Johnson Ameer Abdullah Duke Johnson Javorius Allen Jay Ajayi T.J. Yeldon
David Johnson T.J. Yeldon Jay Ajayi Mike Davis Duke Johnson
T.J. Yeldon David Johnson Mike Davis
Fourth David Cobb Karlos Williams Jeremy Langford Mike Davis Javorius Allen n.a.
Mike Davis David Cobb T.J. Yeldon Jeremy Langford
T.J. Yeldon Jeremy Langford Javorius Allen Cameron Artis-Payne
Jeremy Langford Mike Davis David Johnson Josh Robinson
Javorius Allen Javorius Allen Mike Davis
David Cobb
Fifth Cameron Artis-Payne Josh Robinson Cameron Artis-Payne n.a.
Matt Jones Jeremy Langford
Dominique Brown Dominique Brown
Sixth Josh Robinson Malcolm Brown Trey Williams David Cobb Terrence Magee n.a.
Zach Zenner B.J. Catalon Matt Jones
Cameron Artis-Payne David Cobb
Tyler Varga
Dominique Brown
Seventh Malcolm Brown n.a. Terrence Magee Karlos Williams n.a. n.a.
Cameron Artis-Payne Karlos Williams Dee Hart
Matt Jones Malcolm Brown Marcus Murphy
Terrence Magee Thomas Rawls
Karlos Williams Marcus Murphy
Zach Zenner

None of these mocks see an early run on running backs, and none of these mocks see more than five running backs taken in the first two rounds. Of course, if you're going to base your draft strategy on a bunch of mocks then all is lost anyway, but this at least provides some food for thought.

The reality of the draft is that you will usually have to invest a high pick for premier talent, but when you have a class that is deep in talent, as this year's running back class is, the value is going to be found in the later rounds. Or does a deep class mean that there will be a lot of quality backs picked early?

Going by the mocks above, the draft is going to offer a lot of options at running back in the third and fourth rounds. But should the Cowboys wait that long and let the draft come to them, or should they aggressively pursue their target player?

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