The Cowboys need a lot of help in the running game. After DeMarco Murray bolted for Philadelphia Jason Garrett tried to run the ball by committee with Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle. McFadden didn’t have a terrible year but after Murray’s 1845 yards in 2014 anything else was going to be considered a downgrade. By picking fourth in the draft in 2016 the Cowboys have a good opportunity to improve their running game. Should they wait and pick up one in the second round they still could find a good one.
By picking at #4 it’s really hard to justify drafting a running back that early unless Jerry Jones feels he has the next Emmitt Smith. Running backs don’t tend to get drafted that high anymore and other positions like defensive line, quarterback and left tackle seem to be where most GMs want to go if they pick in the top five. Last year the Rams reached for Todd Gurley coming off ACL surgery. A lot of people scratched their heads since St. Louis already had Tre Mason and Zac Stacy but Jeff Fisher felt he was too good to pass up. Gurley rushed for over a thousand yards in his rookie year and took over games at time to show he was worthy of the pick. In 2014 the Titans waited until the second round before picking the first running back, Bishop Sankey from Washington who turned out to be a bust so far.
If Dallas is going to go offense with their first pick it will likely be a quarterback. Tony Romo can’t play forever and has had injury problems in recent years. The Cowboys will likely wait until the second round to pick up a running back unless they trade back or trade up from the second round. If nothing changes and Dallas doesn’t get a running back in the first round they will pick again at pick #35 in round two. Ezekiel Elliott probably won’t be there but could slide a little on draft day. Elliott would be a hit in Dallas and he would be the man for years to come in the backfield behind a potential new QB. If Jerry Jones picked up Paxton Lynch in the first round and Elliott in the second he could have another Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith combination to build around for years to come.
Elliott has great pad level and always fights for extra yards. He also holds onto the all which is paramount for a running back in the NFL. In three year at Ohio State Elliott only fumbled three times. In the 2015 College Football Playoffs Elliott gashed Alabama for 230 yards and Oregon for 246 en route to the National Title. Earlier this month he went wild on Notre Dame for 149 yards and 4 touchdowns. Elliott shows up in big games and would be a hit in Dallas. The Cowboys will have to get him in the first round or hope he slides to the early second because he is a complete back and someone will grab him.
If Jerry Jones doesn’t want to grab Elliott Derrick Henry should be available at pick #35. Henry has a chip on his shoulder after receiving a second round draft grade and has the tools to make teams pay for passing on him in the first round. In my opinion Henry has the best chance to be drafted by Dallas in April.
Henry isn’t elusive and won’t make defenders miss but once he gets to the second level he has another gear he puts it in to take off and get to the end zone. He runs downhill angry and NFL general managers love that. Last season Henry ran for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns earning him the Heisman trophy. Earlier this month in the National Championship game he went off on Clemson running for 158 yards and 3 touchdowns. If Dallas can snag him in the second round Henry would start next season for the Cowboys and could be the guy who makes fans forget about DeMarco Murray.
The Cowboys are in a good spot with their picks in the first or second round. If running back is where they want to go in this draft they will have a chance to draft either Henry or Elliott.