After a somewhat questionable pick in the second round, the Cowboys continued the trend in the third round by selecting Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray.
Although I predicted the ‘Boys would grab a running back at some point during this draft, I figured it would come on day three. While I do like Murray, the depth at the running back position made me believe Dallas would hold off on drafting one.
Players like Pitt’s Dion Lewis, Eastern Washington’s Taiwan Jones, Miami’s Graig Cooper, Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter and Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers were all available and all represent value in later rounds I find equal or superior to Murray in the third.
Again, the Cowboys must have jumped on a player who was rated so highly on their board that they could not pass. Let me say that while I do really like Murray’s game, I don’t agree that his value was tremendous in the third round.
I had him rated as the No. 64 overall player on my 2011 Big Board. You would think the ‘Boys would have liked at least one of the running backs I listed above, all of whom they could possibly secure in the fourth round or later.
Let’s take a look at some of Murray’s tape. . .
Murray has solid agility and start-and-stop ability. His quickness and long speed are both really, really good. He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the Combine and he really does possess home run ability.
While I don’t like the timing of the pick, I think there are only a few runners in this draft who are better for Dallas than Murray. He’s an insurance policy against a Felix Jones injury, which was really an underrated “hole” for the ‘Boys.
If you haven’t done so yet, check out Murray’s career numbers. I don’t look at stats when I look at film because 1) they could potentially cloud my judgment and 2) I don’t particularly care. At the running back position, though, you always want to see a guy produce no matter the circumstances.
Murray had a ridiculous 63 total touchdowns in his career and, more important to me, 157 career receptions (including 71 alone in 2010). Running backs must be able to catch the ball nowadays, and Murray is a natural receiver.
Murray is a continuation of what appears to be a revised draft plan for the Cowboys. He’s a versatile player who will be especially helpful in the passing game.
Tyron Smith is a versatile player who will be especially helpful in the passing game. Bruce Carter is a versatile player who will be especially useful in the passing game. See a trend?
Murray’s vision is solid and he makes very quick decisions with the football. You won’t see Murray dancing in the backfield. He isn’t great after contact, however, and his legs sometimes die after he gets hit. He isn’t particularly effective in short-yardage situations either.
Due to his upright running style and carelessness with the football, I think he could be prone to fumbles at the next level.
A major reason I think the ‘Boys had Murray rated so highly is that he has value as a returner. The Cowboys don’t want Dez Bryant on returns again and it’s unclear what Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and Bryan McCann can do, so Murray’s return ability could be useful as soon as 2011.
You can also bet that Marion Barber is finished in Dallas, which is a nice feeling.