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One of these 8 running backs is likely to be selected by the Cowboys in the 2023 NFL Draft

Make sure you are up to speed on these eight running back prospects before the Cowboys draft.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 03 Big 12 Championship - TCU vs Kansas State Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys need a running back. With Ezekiel Elliott released and Tony Pollard playing under the one-year franchise tag, the team’s once plentiful running back squad could be undergoing an overhaul. While Pollard’s future is still up in the air, one thing that is certain is that Mike McCarthy and his new offense will be looking to add another running back.

With the draft less than two weeks away, many expect this problem to be resolved with a nice new set of fresh legs joining the team. This is a deep draft class for running backs so the opportunities will be there, but when will the Cowboys strike? Here are eight running backs we should familiarize ourselves in preparation for the upcoming draft.

Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

Texas’ Bijan Robinson gets all the attention, but it would be surprising to see him fall that far in the draft. And while Robinson is the top dog running back, Bama’s Gibbs is not too far behind. Super explosive, Gibbs is a remarkable cutter who is very savvy about the space around him. He’s a fantastic receiver and has 4.36 speed and is just a big play waiting to happen. He transferred to Alabama after Brian Robinson Jr. left for the NFL and even then he shared touches, but he’s only scratched the surface of the type of big plays he can bring to an offense. Some might not like the notion of going running back early, but Gibbs has the Cowboys' attention.

Projected round: 1st-2nd (according to Dane Brugler rankings)

Devon Achane, Texas A&M

This Aggie shared time with Isaiah Spiller in 2021 before Spiller headed off to the NFL. Last year, the backfield belonged to Achane and he rushed for over 1,100 yards. He’s super fast at 4.32 and possesses great vision and cutting ability to work his way through traffic. He’s on the small side (5’8”, 189 lbs) but his quick acceleration makes him a big play waiting to happen. He’s a willing blocker in pass pro and has demonstrated some nice ability as a receiver. This multi-way weapon will turn heads and will be on the Cowboys' radar on Day 2.

Projected round: 2nd-3rd

Tyjae Spears, Tulane

Spears has been manning the Green Wave backfield for the past three seasons although he tore his ACL back in 2020. He’s healthy now and ran for an impressive 6.9 yards per carry last season en route to 1,581 yards. He doesn’t have blazing speed (4.52), but his shiftiness is quite impressive as he darts through holes before defenders can get a shot at him. Like Achane, he’s also on the small side (5’9”, 201 lbs) and doesn’t come with a lot of power, but has happy feet that make him tough to corral.

Projected round: 3rd

Tank Bigsby, Auburn

Tank is a balanced runner who brings both power and explosiveness to his game. There is nothing super flashy about his running style, but he’s very effective, leading Auburn in rushing for three-straight seasons. His ability to maintain speed through his cuts is rather impressive as he always seems to have another move ready. He’s shown good durability and is solid in the passing game both as a blocker and receiving, but there is room to get even better. He has the skills to keep himself on the field on all three downs.

Projected round: 3rd

Roschon Johnson, Texas

Johnson is known as the other Texas running back, but don’t let his timeshare fool you. He’s got skills. Taking a backseat to Bijan Robinson just means he comes with low mileage as he had less than 100 carries in each of the last three seasons. Johnson is a physical runner who constantly churns his legs, powering through defenders and regularly grinding out yards. He runs a little upright but still has some good lateral agility to make guys miss. He’s also a high-character guy who will block and play special teams. He’s just a do-everything kind of player. The Cowboys found success the last time they took a backup running back in the draft (Tony Pollard backed up Darrell Henderson at Memphis), so why not try it again?

Projected round: 3rd

Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh

Abanikanda is a two-year starter at Pitt who is coming off an impressive 1,431-yard season (six yards per carry) and 20 rushing touchdowns. He has very good vision to find creases in the running lanes and will fly once he gains clearance for takeoff. He’s not a strong asset in the passing game as his blocking needs work, but he has shown some ability as a receiver. He also isn’t going to run over anyone, so although he’s not an ideal prospect to handle the workload, he has intriguing running skills to be a nice complementary toy.

Projected round: 3rd-4th

Zach Evans, Ole Miss

Evans is deceptively elusive as his lateral agility isn’t ankle-breaking, but it's quite effective. He has a quick cut to the start of his runs and then hauls off running. He doesn’t have great speed, but he sure looks a lot faster on tape and he’s constantly getting loose in the secondary. His efficiency is consistent as he’s had at least 6.5 yards per carry in all three of his college season; however, he doesn’t he a lot of work under his belt (only 290 career carries). He can run a little upright and comes with character concerns (suspended twice his senior year), but this prospect comes with some interesting upside.

Projected round: 3rd-4th

Kendre Miller, TCU

Miller became the lead back at TCU when the before-mentioned Zach Evans headed to Mississippi last year, and Miller wasted no time taking advantage. He compiled 1,399 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year. You get a little bit of everything with Miller as he’s a physical runner that doesn’t go down easy, but he also displays good lateral movement to finesse his way through traffic. He’ll pound it in on the goal line and he’ll break off some big runs. Overall, Miller shows great patience but has an attack-mode instinct that makes him a very productive runner.

Projected round: 3rd-4th

Building a better board...

Having a good feel for who the Cowboys are interested in is helpful in gaining an edge on whose name is more likely to be called on draft day. Here is a list of the running backs who have either had an official 30 visit with the Cowboys, had a formal meeting at the combine, met with the coaches during their Pro Day, or had a private workout with the team.


RB Jahmyr Gibbs Alabama 1st-2nd Explosive, shifty and fast, great receiver
RB Devon Achane Texas A&M 2nd-3rd Explosive, shifty and fast, great receiver
RB Tyjae Spears Tulane 3rd Super shifty, not overly fast, great vision
RB Tank Bigsby Auburn 3rd Quick cutter, strong runner, very durable
RB Roschon Johnson Texas 3rd Physical and shifty, high character do-everything guy
RB Israel Abanikanda Pitt 3rd-4th Good vision, break away runner, toy
RB Zach Evans Ole Miss 3rd-4th Good cutting, gets loose in space, character concerns
RB Kendre Miller TCU 3rd-4th Physical and shifty, balanced player

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