One of the keys for the Dallas Cowboys to be successful in the 2013 season will be a healthy DeMarco Murray. They must rely heavily on the running game to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Tony Romo.
The only problem is that since drafting Murray in 2011 he has had a history of nagging injuries that have caused him to miss a considerable amount of games late in the season.
The Cowboys must address the backup running back position in this year’s NFL draft. We need a dependable back up if need be who can shoulder the load if Murray get injured again during the season.
This year’s draft is deep with quality running backs that could instantly help the Cowboys from day one. Below are a few running backs I think could be on the Dallas Cowboys radar.
1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama (5’11, 231)
STRENGTHS: Has the leg drive to push the pile and keeps his legs churning through contact, often resulting in broken tackles. Lacey reads his blocks nicely, showing enough lateral agility to avoid defenders as well as the burst to stick his foot in the ground and accelerate through gaps quickly.
He’s a well-built back, but shows good balance (including an often-used spin move) and athleticism (leaping ability) to surprise defenders anticipating that all he has is power. Runs tough and determined with an angry attitude to finish each run and pick up positive yardage.
WEAKNSESSES: Needs to stay healthy as he’s been hampered at times with foot injuries (ankle sprains, turf toe). Put the ball on the ground a few times early in his career, but improved in this area. –Rob Rang via CBSSports.com
NFL COMPARISON: Michael Bush
2. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (6’2, 244)
Strengths: Strong-build and well proportioned with thick hips. Very good balance and stays low to the ground through contact. More of a downhill athlete who picks up speed as he goes. Stays light on his feet and has some deception to his game, slipping through cracks at the line of scrimmage.
Tough runner to bring down cleanly, often carrying defenders. Good forward lean and pop to deliver blows at the point of attack. Not afraid to leave his feet to leap over defenders. Active receiver with good awareness in pass pro to pick up blitzes. Led Big Ten in rushing in 2012 (1,793 yards) with three 200-yard performances.
Weaknesses: Not overly powerful despite his size and lacks breakaway speed to leave defenders in the dust. Smooth acceleration but not a burner and shows little burst in his cuts.
Lacks speed on stretch plays and won’t be able to make a living in the NFL going east/west as much as he did in college. Too hesitant and patient at times and gets himself in trouble when he stops his feet, taking time to survey the field and figure it his next move. Wears down late in games and at times looks to have checked out.
Needs technique work in pass protection, leaving his feet too often and struggling to square his shoulders and gain proper positioning. Hands are normally reliable but will struggle on passes away from his frame. Has a lot of touches on his resume. Some rumblings that he is a “me-first” player.-CBSSports.com
NFL COMPARISON: LeGarrette Blount
3. Montee Ball, Wisconsin (5’11, 212)
STRENGTHS: Reliable, hard-working zone back. Presses the line of scrimmage, and generally has good vision and feel to find the cutback lane or cut away from penetrating defenders. Willing to run into compressed spaces and doesn’t worry about contact. Hard runner. Stays patient behind pulling guards and fullbacks, has enough quickness to break off a run if the space is available to him. Lowers his pads on contact, keeps his legs moving to gain extra yards against glancing blows. Effective cut blocker in the hole and willing to stand up to blitzers when protecting the quarterback. Natural receiver, adjusts to throws over the middle and in the flat, continues downfield fluidly. Sidesteps or stiff-arms oncoming defenders in space after the catch. Good balance and low center of gravity, can sink low and spin out of tackles. Quick enough to get around the corner on perimeter runs.
WEAKNESSES: Smaller back with a lot of wear on his tires. Possesses average overall size and straight-line speed. One speed runner who another gear to accelerate once in space, and doesn’t have elite agility to elude quicker defenders. Lacks burst in and out of cuts. Does not have pure power to move piles or free himself through better tackle attempts. Volume runner who isn’t overly creative or powerful, and benefits from plenty of clear entry runs into the second level. Cited in May 2012 for trespassing after failing to leave a porch when asked during Wisconsin’s annual Mifflin Street Block Party. Injured after being assaulted by multiple assailants on campus in August 2012.-via NFL.com
NFL COMPARISON: Stevan Ridley
4. Andre Ellington, Clemson (5’9, 190)
STRENGTHS: He does not have elite Speed, but he’s not going to be caught from behind very often…catches the ball out of the backfield…has kick return potential and ability….does a better job than you’d expect for a speed back to pick up tough yardage…excels as a one cut runner…
WEAKNESSES: Thin in his lower half…ball security could be an issue at the NFL level…doesn’t break many tackles…needs to develops a little more patience in his runs..doesn’t have great vision or an exceptional burst to get quickly from the second level to third level. Will have to get a lot of reps on the practice field as a blocker on passing downs…production (yards per carry) as dropped down every year he’s been at Clemson…even though he catches the ball out of the backfield, he drops some easy passes and he doesn’t run great routes, he is not C.J. Spiller although he doesn’t miss a lot of games because of injuries, he seems to be nicked up with injuries as a lot and as a speed guy that’s not a great trait.-via nflmocks.com
NFL COMPARISON: Jahvid Best
5. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (5’11, 215)
Strengths: Presents a thick overall build and good forward lean, making him a tough north-south runner to stop with an arm tackle. Running hard is never an issue, as defensive backs often find when trying to wrap him up. Flashes good quickness to offset before getting his body moving forward to receive the handoff, as well as enough burst to hit an open hole in a hurry. Possesses the vision and just enough speed to take advantage of an opening off-tackle if the inside gap is filled. Adjusts well to throws with his back to the quarterback and possesses the quickness and bullish running/stiff arm to beat defenders on the outside. Also displays good technique and skill in pass protection.
Weaknesses: Less than average long speed won’t allow him to be a breakaway threat at the next level. Not quick enough to take plays to the sidelines or cut inside an oncoming defender once outside the tackles. Dances a bit inside when anticipating contact, too, throwing himself off-balance. Doesn’t show tremendous explosiveness while still behind the line of scrimmage. Fails to consistently keep his legs moving upon contact with lineman and linebackers.
NFL COMPARISON: Chester Taylor