IRVING, Texas – On Thursday afternoon, I took part in an exercise with the other DallasCowboys.com writers to rank the Top 10 running backs that the Cowboys would face this upcoming season. Everyone's list was a little different, but I wanted to share my thoughts here.
I was in agreement with our group on LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch as the top two, but at the third spot I had Arian Foster over Matt Forte. I have a great deal of respect for what Forte can do as that complete back, which is much like what the Cowboys have in DeMarco Murray.
Despite avoiding the NFLâ??s best RB this year, plenty of other great backs will surface on the Cowboysâ?? 2014 schedule. Hereâ??s a Top-10 list of opposing RBs for 2014.
If you look at the entire body of work for the Houston Texans, it wasn't just Foster that had a rough season. The quarterback play was inconsistent and they could never really get anything going on offense. Guys like Foster and Andre Johnson suffered for it. Foster only played in eight games but still managed to hit his career average of 4.5 yards per carry.
Foster thrived in Gary Kubiak's zone rushing scheme throughout his career, so it will be interesting to see how Bill O'Brien intends to use him. I believe that the 2013 season was just a down season and he will be able to bounce back.
As a group, we voted Andre Ellington of the Cardinals in the ninth spot, but in my opinion he is right behind Frank Gore in sixth. If any of you took the time to listen to the "Draft Show" that we did before the 2013 NFL Draft, you would have heard my love for Ellington out of Clemson.
There was just so much to his game when you studied his college tape. There was explosive quickness that you saw with the ball in his hands. This guy is a "home run" type of back and the Cardinals took advantage of that. He is a weapon in every sense of the word and it would not surprise me one bit to see him in the mix at the end of the season as one of the leading rushers in the league. [embedded_ad]
The group had Alfred Morris of the Redskins sixth but I had him seventh, and my reasoning is because of the new coaching staff. Like Arian Foster, Morris was a beast in the zone scheme that Mike Shanahan used in Washington. I am not really sure how much of that we will see with Jay Gruden, but if they are smart, they will continue to attempt to get him the ball and allow him to make that one cut and go. This coaching switch will either suit him well or he will need to be traded.
I had Pierre Thomas of the Saints eighth while the group had him ranked 10th. I know that doesn't sound like a big difference, but the reason I moved him up a couple of notches is for what he does in this rotation running and catching the ball. He can be a very productive player when he gets the ball in his hands.
He had over 70 catches last year and seasons where he has averaged over five yards a carry. I have always liked his physical running style and the way he attacks the hole. If he played anywhere other than New Orleans, he would be an every down type of back.