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