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Mailbag: Too Early To Draft A RB In 1st? Senior Bowl Too Small A Sample Size?

TROY JORDANPIEDMONT, OK

I really like Ezekiel Elliott with the No. 4 pick. He's got size, speed, hands and can block. What are the pros and cons of taking a running back that high? Would you be willing to take a RB with that much talent that high?

Bryan:Congratulations, you can scout with me any day. I don't see any downside here if you want the player that has the least amount of holes in him and has a high ceiling. His talent is just as good as any of the other top players in the draft. I believe he has a chance to be special and that has never stopped me from wanting to draft a player like Elliott despite whatever position he plays. I am not sure this front office agrees with me but that's okay too.   

Rob:Like quarterback, running back is an interesting debate at No. 4 for different reasons. There's been a shift in the league away from drafting backs with high first-round picks because it's a position that wears down over time, and the every-down running back has been phased out of college football to some degree. Generally speaking, my opinion is you're more likely to get similar value for a back taken later in the draft than say, an elite pass rusher. But I will continue to say this all the way through late April: if the Cowboys' evaluations say a running back is definitively the best player available at No. 4, then they should take him. I'm about getting the very best player possible with a pick this high.

GENO VELASQUEZDALLAS, TX

After reading the "Senior Bowl Notes" article, it seems there were many players who looked good on tape but either did not have a good practice week or just looked sloppy on game day. How do you take into consideration that you only saw a small sample size of these players and they could be the type who works hard and improves, or hits a wall and not get over it?

Bryan:Great question. I am always going to use these bowl games as a helper when evaluating these players. I wasn't thrilled with the way that Austin Johnson DT Penn State practiced and played, but his game film while in school was really good. Thought DT Jarran Reed was really good during the week and in the game, plus his college film was really good – that in my mind helps him. The bottom line is that it is all part of the process when scouting a player and the more opportunities like these college all-star games, the better you can make a decision on these players.    

Rob: It's a great point, and I agree that you can't make sweeping judgments on players either way based on three days of practice with brand-new teammates and a brand-new coaching staff and then limited snaps in a game. For instance, the four North team quarterbacks got a quarter each. The Senior Bowl helps teams learn more about players and in some cases reaffirm what they might have seen on college tape. It's certainly an important evaluation but it's only part of the pre-draft process.

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