The Cowboys must pick a running back in this draft. My big red scouting spiral notebook is filled with prospects, but only a select few are the right kind of guys. In fact, the number one selection may lead you to believe I am using a Big Red spiral notebook.
Right Kind of Guys: Running Backs
Rex Burkhead, Nebraska (5-10, 214, 2nd round)
- Rex Burkhead in the 2nd round? Call me crazy. Not saying he will be drafted in the 2nd round, but I rank him right up there with Eddie Lacy and Gio Bernard, who most teams have as 2nd round values.
- This Plano Senior High product is my favorite player in this draft – as detailed three months ago, my Sean Lee (2010) or Randall Cobb (2011) or Ryan Broyles (2012) of this draft, three players who were taken in the 2nd round the past three years
- Check out Nebraska’s bowl game against Georgia, a team that features an NFL draft pick at all eleven defensive positions; Burkhead ran for 140 yards and caught 4 passes for 39 more and scored 2 TDs in that game
- Limited by an MCL injury that did not require surgery his senior season, Burkhead ran for 1406 yards and 15 TDs as a junior, including 177 total yards and two 4th quarter TDs in a come from behind win over Ohio State
- Can run between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield, has lined up in the slot and even at fullback, plus he threw 3 TD passes in his college career
- The only thing lacking is long speed (4.64 forty) but virtually every 3-down back in this draft is lacking in long speed
- Truth is, Burkhead is more athletic, more productive, and possesses more of the “right kind of guy” tangibles and intangibles than every running back prospect in this draft
- Scouting Combine comparisons: Burkhead put up better numbers than all the top rated RBs except for Texas A&M’s Christine Michael, who has some maturity red flags. The last player listed below, Knile Davis of Arkansas, has played sparingly the last two seasons after suffering an ankle injury following a 1322 yard freshman year.
40/10/20 Bench Vertical Broad Shuttle Cone Burkhead 5-10, 214 465/157/259 21 39 10-5 4.09 6.85 Lacy 5-11, 231 464/165/265 n/a 32 ½ 9-7 4.44 7.33 Bernard 5-8, 202 453/156/257 19 33 ½ 10-2 4.12 6.91 M. Ball 5-10, 214 459/161/259 15 32 9-10 4.40 6.88 L. Bell 6-1, 230 460/157/264 24 31 ½ 9-10 4.24 6.75 Ellington 5-9, 199 461/157/264 n/a 34 10-2 n/a n/a S. Taylor 5-9, 214 470/164/271 19 31 9-2 4.50 7.13 Randle 6-0, 204 459/160/260 n/a 35 10-3 4.23 7.01 Franklin 5-10, 205 446/156/262 18 31 ½ 9-7 4.31 6.89 Michael 5-10, 220 454/156/263 27 n/a 10-5 4.02 6.69 K. Davis 5-11, 227 437/154/257 31 33 ½ 10-1 4.38 6.96
- 2-time team captain, 5th leading rusher in Nebraska school history, 2-time Nebraska weightlifter of the year, 2-time 1st team Academic All American, Campbell Trophy (Academic Heisman) finalist, one of 11 members of the AFCA Good Works team
- Rex Burkhead is one of the most popular players in Nebraska football history – Husker fans have even written songs about him – and would be the same with his hometown Cowboys
- If you’re still unconvinced that Burkhead is the “right kind of guy”, then ask 7-year old brain cancer patient Jack Hoffman – Jack’s 69 yard TD run in Nebraska’s spring game earlier this month is the best evidence of the Burkhead’s impact on Nebraska football
LeVeon Bell, Michigan State (6-1, 230, 3rd round)
- Cowboys are looking for a big back who can run between the tackles to spell Demarco Murray and LeVeon Bell is really one of only two in this draft who are in that 230 pound mold (Eddie Lacy is the other)
- Proved his junior season that he can carry the load with 382 rushes for 1793 yards his junior season and caught 32 passes for another 167 yards
- I think Bell is the running back the Cowboys would love to draft, and if he is there in the 3rd round, they will jump all over him
Montee Ball, Wisconsin (5-10 ½, 214, 3rd round)
- Doak Walker Award winner carried the ball 663 times for 3753 yards and 55 TDs his final two years at Wisconsin
- Mature, solid guy who has quick feet, though not real athletic, and did deal with a concussion issue early last season
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (5-9, 214, 4th round)
- Another player who has proven in an NFL-style balanced offense that he can tote the rock, with 223 carries for 1137 yards as a sophomore, 242 carries for 1330 yards as a junior, and 322 carries for 1530 yards as a senior
- Also proved reliable as a pass catcher with 97 career receptions
- Impeccable character and a great teammate
- Guaranteed the Cowboys love this product of Mansfield High School, though he doesn’t have anywhere near the breakaway speed that Murray possesses
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (5-10, 205, 4th round)
- Franklin is rising up many boards and could be a 2nd round pick but lacks the size the Cowboys are looking for
- Probably would be more of a 3rd down back in the Cowboys offense but did increase his production his senior year with 282 carries for 1734 yards and 33 receptions for 323 yards
- Team captain and tremendous character, he interned in the Los Angeles mayor’s office last summer and aspires to be mayor of LA some day
Matthew Tucker, TCU (6-0, 221, 7th round)
- Really like Tucker as a late round pick or priority free agent
- Showed good speed (4.45 forty) and athleticism (35 ½ vertical), but due to injuries and a running back by committee approach at TCU, did not have as much production as you’d like; but that also means there’s plenty of tread left on Tucker’s tires
Wrong Kind Of Guys
Christine Michael, Texas A&M (5-10, 220)
- As alluded to earlier, he tested great at the combine and has a chance to be as early as a 3rd round pick, but there are some off field issues that kept him sidelined and in a reserve role his final year at A&M – was suspended for the SMU game for reportedly breaking a team rule, and he says he still isn’t sure why he never got to play in the Cotton Bowl, his final game.
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