The Cowboys finished the season as the fourth-ranked rushing team in the NFL. They got nearly 1,100 yards out of former Raiders' draft bust Darren McFadden. However, seeing as he's not the best fit for what their superbly athletic offensive line prefers, they went out and signed away Alfred Morris from the rivals in Washington. Despite this signing, the Cowboys must still address the position with some fresh legs in the draft.
Alfred Morris is a fine player but he's far removed from the player that he was in 2012. Each year, his production has dropped. That cannot simply be a lack of opportunity with his former team. He's coming off his worst year with 751 yards on 202 carries and a 3.7-yard average. Now, surely he fits what the Cowboys like to do, but he's no threat as a receiver out of the backfield. He's also not the complete back that McFadden actually is. He's part of the solution, but he's not the only solution. So, how should the Cowboys go about drafting a running back?
Select Ezekiel Elliott At 4th Overall
A classic case of taking a good running attack and making it a great running attack. Elliott is the real deal, it's that simple. He can run, cut, block, jump, catch and just about anything you want him to. Taking Elliott would be a signal of winning now because it puts a dynamic player in the Cowboys' backfield and brings the team back to their 2014 ways. Elliott is one of those few players at the top of the draft that I consider to be catalytic.
If other targets are wiped out at four, Elliott should be the perfect pick for the Cowboys. There is a small sliver of a chance that another quarterback could generate some trade buzz should Cleveland take a different player. If that lets them move down and take Elliott, that would be ideal. Keep in mind that they are likely having to stay in front of the Eagles or Elliott may be playing for a division rival next season. We all hope that doesn't happen. If Elliott becomes the choice, Cowboys fans should rest easy. I know five guys up front that would be doing a dance and one quarterback who would join them.
Select Devontae Booker, Kenneth Dixon or Derrick Henry At 34
Booker- He fits the mold of a workhorse back that this coaching staff seems to want. He's got a compact build and low center of gravity that makes him a good fit for the Cowboys. He's got balance and power in his lower body to break plenty of tackles. He's not a very speedy back but does get to his top speed quickly. He's got vision and balance to keep his head down and go. He's known for being a punishing runner which brings up the durability questions. The Cowboys will love that this guy is a fighter and runs with aggression.
He was recruited out of high school after rushing for 2,844 yards and a whopping 45 touchdowns. He sat out his first year at Utah, then destroyed the Pac-12 with over 1,500 rushing yards and ten scores in 2014. Unfortunately, he tore his meniscus in November, but he seems ready to make his mark in the NFL with a good bill of health now.
Dixon- He jumped on the scene at the Senior Bowl, but is another workhorse back that offers the Cowboys exactly what they want in a runner. He's patient and productive with the right attitude to get in there and never let up. He seems to be just as fresh in the fourth quarter as he is in the first. What really jumps out to Cowboys fans is his 1,000+ yard rushing season with 19 touchdowns as a senior. However, that's not it, he also added another 460+ yards as a receiver and seven more scores as a receiver.
Dixon could very well be the best senior running back prospect and has his school's rushing records with 4,480 total rushing yards. He seems to have the perfect grasp as to what makes a successful running back and is very intelligent. Like Elliott, he takes pride in the willingness to stay in and block. Dallas could very well fall in love with him in their backfield.
Henry - He's still considered the second-best runner behind Elliott in this year's class and he's made it clear that he wants to be a Dallas Cowboy this spring. The 2015 Heisman Trophy winner has plenty of things to like as he is a massive player with the build to punish defenses. He rushed for 2,218 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2015 and was an absolute beast of a runner.
He might be the perfect fit for the Cowboys as that ZBS-style runner but there are knocks on his speed. He also needs a little space to get going, that just doesn't always happen in the NFL where windows close as they open. Henry is an intriguing talent and if there at 34, you must consider him. The Cowboys could likely love a lot of things that Henry brings to the table, but there are concerns about his ability to replicate his college success in the NFL.
Target A Mid-Round Talent Like Paul Perkins, C.J. Prosise, or Others
Perkins- The Pac-12's most consistent runner over the past few seasons. Perkins has patience and vision to let his lanes develop. He's more of an explosive runner and really shows his burst. The Cowboys will like that Perkins is an intelligent runner that makes the most of each carry. However, he's a bit thinner than the ideal NFL prospect. He may have issues in pass protection though he knows how to chip and be an opportunistic blocker.
Perkins is a solid pass catcher and seems to put away a lot of doubts with the way he plays. Perkins put up a ton of numbers in the Pac-12, becoming the first Bruin to lead the conference in rushing since 2001. He'll have to convince doubters that he can either put on weight or defy some NFL odds.
Prosise- For a guy who hasn't spent much time in the position, he seems to fit naturally. Prosise was thrust into the fire due to injury. He became the starter and led the team with 1,029 rushing yards on 157 carries with a 6.6 yard per carry average. He looks to fit well in the Cowboys scheme with his vision and one-cut style of running.He has also shown good overall body strength, and agility.
He's a very fluid runner and has the cutting ability of an NFL prospect with the patience to see and deliver. With only having one year of experience he has plenty to learn. However, the Cowboys just might present the best situation for him to thrive in the NFL.