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Cowboys 2016 Draft: The Future Of The Running Back Position

Despite Darren McFadden's productive season in 2015, the time is now for the Dallas Cowboys to assess the future at the running back position.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

When DeMarco Murray fled to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, the Dallas Cowboys signed Darren McFadden just two days later in attempt to have insurance at running back. A common prediction for the Cowboys in last year's draft was to add a running back. Names such as Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon were mocked to the Cowboys in multiple mock drafts. Seven rounds went by and the Cowboys left the position unaddressed. When the Cowboys went with the committee approach to start the season, it was pretty much Joseph Randle's job to lose.

But after Randle started fights in practice with Dez Bryant, read the wrong holes in games, and had continued off-field problems, the Cowboys' decision to give Darren McFadden the starting role was seen as a desperate one at the time. However, McFadden's 2015 season was just a testament to not only how great Dallas' offensive line is, but also how good of a thing the Cowboys have in the player personnel department with Will McClay.

So with the 2016 season around the corner, where exactly do the Cowboys go from here? Many people will say it doesn't matter who runs behind the offensive line. Despite that and despite how talented Tony Romo is, the Cowboys will need someone reliable at the position for years to come. There has been talk about the Cowboys pulling the trigger with the fourth-overall pick on Ezekiel Elliott, but with the recent news of the Cowboys' interest in a franchise quarterback or drafting an immediate-impact type of player on defense, waiting until later in the draft to bring in a running back would be ideal.

When asked about the running back position, Vice President Stephen Jones responded with this:

"Of course we do feel like we need another back to go with McFadden," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "Where we get that, whether it's in the draft or whether we do it in free agency, a lot of different ways you can go there."

The Cowboys' offensive line is by far the best in football and the crazy thing is that this unit is only going to get better. Tyron Smith is still improving, despite being the most athletic tackle in football. The interior tandem of Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, and La'el Collins is also only going to get better with more gameplay and NFL seasoning.

Elliott and Derrick Henry have already voiced their opinions of how they want to run behind the Cowboys' offensive line. Looking at the needs of the roster as well as the fact that McFadden has one more year on his contract, the Cowboys don't need to draft a running back early, but drafting one in the middle rounds would make a ton of sense.

For starters, McFadden's productive season was extremely interesting. Much of his success came in man-blocking schemes. Dallas' line is better suited for a zone-blocking scheme. That's why guys like Devontae Booker, Alex Collins, and Kenneth Dixon would all make ideal sense in the middle rounds.

McFadden deserves every right to be the Week 1 starter when the 2016 season rolls around. But after the 2016 season, the Cowboys would be wise to let McFadden walk, as he would be 30 entering the 2017 season. The lifespan of a running back isn't a good one in the NFL. If Dallas drafts a running back in this year's draft, which they most likely will, that guy will be the team's running back of the future. He'll start out being a complementary back next to McFadden, but he'll undoubtedly become the team's option at the position in the near future.

Who do you believe the Cowboys will add at the running back position?

Follow me on Twitter: RyanRattyNFL

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