Yes, Darren McFadden resurrected his career behind the Cowboys offensive line in 2015. After only producing one season in Oakland in the 1,000-rusher club, he added his second four seasons later. In total, McFadden carried the ball 239 times (most in a season) for 1,089 yards with three rushing touchdowns and a 4.6-yard average. All of this came after he was given the starting job in week six, who knows what could have been had he started sooner? McFadden showed the world that he can still be the workhorse back in the NFL. So what?
That fact doesn't excuse the Cowboys of the severe lack of depth behind McFadden, or the fact that they were essentially wrong in their RBBC approach. To the credit of Run DMC because he showed them what they needed was to follow the same blueprint of 2014. Despite all these accolades, it's important to remember that McFadden will be 29 before the season begins, an age where running backs have seen quite the drop off in production.
To put it quite plainly, the Dallas Cowboys need to go shopping for a running back, perhaps two. Whether that means they target the 24-year old Lamar Miller in free agency or not, the draft is a place that could reap them the most benefits. As I've said before, this front office and coaching staff let the 2015 draft get away from them a little in the later rounds. However, once again, though not as deep, 2016 will offer a handful of really good options.
Ezekiel Elliott 6'0, 225 lbs, (CBS 13th Prospect)
By leaps and bounds, Elliott is the most dynamic running back in this year's draft. He's a well-polished runner with all the wrinkles and nuances he needs to understand the facets of the game. A very intelligent player, Elliott was extremely productive in his time with the Buckeyes. He's the only running back worthy of a first-round grade though there are still great options past him. Elliott has even mentioned his desire to play for the Dallas Cowboys as pointed out by my man, Ryan Ratty. Elliott knows how to maintain excellent pad level and has tremendous balance. His patience as a runner should not be overlooked though many remember him darting through the line into the second level in most of his games. He's a very intense, team-first type of player who has shown that he can handle any assignment. Like most backs entering the NFL, he'll need to work on pass protection, but he's willing and capable with ideal size. Elliott could be an option for Dallas in a trade down, but if they like him enough, they may have to reluctantly spend that 4th pick. However, Bryan Broaddus has gone on record saying Elliott is the one player in this draft with the least amount of holes in his game. He's certainly someone to consider and is a supreme talent.
Derrick Henry 6'2, 242 lbs, (CBS 39th Prospect)
From one Cowboys' hopeful to another, Henry is hoping to hear his name called by Dallas early in this year's draft. Henry has a tremendous size for the position and doesn't really look like most backs that are entering the NFL. However, Henry was a great player for the Crimson Tide and was a bulldozer of a back to try and take down. He fights for every yard and gives consistent effort throughout the game. He's an opener and closer with the look of an NFL workhorse back. His size and athleticism are ideal though he may be a little top-heavy in his frame. Still, Henry shows patience as a runner and willingness as a pass blocker, too. He's got the one-cut style that makes him a better fit in a zone-blocking scheme. He's very light on his feet for an athlete his size but shows his power with each stride. His vision is excellent and he rarely loses the football. He's not the full package that Elliott may be, but if he checks all the boxes for the Cowboys, he's a no-brainer in the second round.
Kenneth Dixon, 5'10, 215 lbs, (62nd CBS Prospect)
The more you watch Dixon, the more you want this guy on your team. Excellent character and overall team-first mentality. What he lacks in explosiveness, he makes up for in intelligence and patience. Dixon hits the hole with a compact build that can take the punishment. He was an extremely productive at LA Tech with 4,480 rushing yards, but there are some slight concerns with his 900 carries. What sets him apart is his ability to know all of the little wrinkles and nuances of the position that make him intriguing. He's a very decisive runner and knows how to take on blocks in pass protection. He has a very high football IQ to know where the chains are and always keep focus as a runner. Great vision and ability to catch passes out of the backfield. He did have some fumbling issues but seems to have corrected them. Dixon is a very durable back with the potential to be a workhorse at the next level.
Kenyan Drake 6'1, 210 lbs, (CBS 88th Prospect)
Drake is one of the all-around best athletes in the SEC, it's a shame that he's battled numerous injuries in his career. He's currently slated as a third-round prospect but could help himself with a solid combine performance. Drake is explosive and has excellent speed. He's the workhorse type of back with great patience for the position. Drake can beat you in multiple ways including the passing game. As a runner, he loves to bounce things to the outside and show off his elite speed to basically burn the competition. He's also got great size at 6'0, 210 pounds which put him ahead of a lot of backs in pass protection. He's going to make some creative offensive mind very happy because there are just so many ways he can be used and knows how to exploit defenses.
Jonathan Williams 5'11, 219 lbs, (CBS 114th Prospect)
He entered 2015 as one of the top running back prospects in the country. Unfortunately for Williams, he suffered a foot injury that derailed the entire campaign back in August. He's definitely one of the most interesting options at running back. He accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl to prove that he's '100%'. Williams is athletic, has great vision, and amazing cutting abilities. His upper body and arm strength allow him to break a lot of tackles and he's got excellent ball security. He's got true power in his legs and seems to have decent speed and ability to change direction without losing any momentum. Williams will be competing to be the first Senior running back taken but he's still a bit unknown currently. Arkansas coaches are still going to bat for their guy as he was slated to have a big 2015 after averaging 91.5 yards and almost six yards per carry in 2014. The Combine is the place for Williams to make a name for himself.
Aaron Green 5'11, 203 lbs, (CBS 154th Prospect)
Green transferred from Nebraska to TCU in hopes for more playing time. The Horned Frogs had a crowded backfield but Green slowly made his rise to the top after rushing for 900+ yards and a seven yards per carry average. Green also showed exactly what he's about at the Senior Bowl. He's quick, agile and has the burst to get going and make plenty of defenders miss. Brugler has stated several times that Green almost runs like he's in Madden or something. His calling card is his ability to be shifty and slippery through the tackles as he gallops his way to paydirt. He's got great instincts and is determined to be the best player he can at all times. He's got above-average hands to and could be a solid pass-catcher out of the backfield for an NFL team.
Tyler Ervin 5'10, 192 lbs, (CBS 180th Prospect)
Though his frame doesn't look like an NFL prospect, Ervin is a much tougher running back than expected. He's got great vision and hits his holes very quickly. He was another Senior Bowl standout that showed not only is he quick, but he's patient and can pick up extra yards. He actually has done well in space to make defenders miss and can break a few tackles too. He was very durable and productive at San Jose State. He racked up 1,469 yards for them and showed his versatility by adding 44 catches for 337 yards. He didn't stop there though as he averaged 23.9 yards per return on special teams. Ervin also was second in the country with 200 all-purpose yards per game in 2015.He's just got an innate ability to see the hole and go and reaches his top speed almost instantly which will get him on the radar of many NFL scouts and coaches.