The Cowboys’ Week 7 romping of the St. Louis Rams was really all about DeMarco Murray, who exploded for 253 yards on 25 carries, including a 91-yard touchdown scamper to start the game. Prior to the 2011 NFL Draft, I was fairly high on Murray, ranking him as the No. 7 running back and No. 65 overall on my Big Board. Here is my initial scouting report on Murray:
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.
Murray’s home-run ability was useful on Sunday, and now that Jones is down, it is Murray’s time to shine. It will be really interesting to see what the Cowboys do when Jones returns from his high ankle sprain if Murray continues to play well. My guess is that Jones will regain his starting spot, but that will be tough to justify if Murray keeps it up.