IRVING, Texas – As Day 3 of the NFL Draft wound down, Darius Jackson waited for his name to be called. He didn't think it would come from the Cowboys.
Not after they drafted Ezekiel Elliott at No. 4 overall, the franchise's highest draft position in the last 25 years.
"I was really excited," Jackson said after he got selected with the third of Dallas' four sixth-round picks. "I was happy to come here and compete."
Compete indeed. There's no deeper position on the 2016 roster than running back. Even Elliott, who's likely to have a significant role right away, enters a crowded backfield occupied by veterans Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and Lance Dunbar.
That's fine with Jackson, a one-year starter at Eastern Michigan who grew up a Cowboys fan with family in the Metroplex.
"Drafting Zeke and we're five deep at running back," he said, "but they didn't draft you for no reason. So I'm excited to play for the Cowboys and compete for a spot. I feel like I'm in a great situation, actually, even though we've got Zeke and McFadden and Morris and Dunbar.
"Hey, I'm ready to go, ready to get to practice."
The Cowboys liked Jackson's upside as a developmental back in the sixth round. Finally a full-time starter his senior year of college, he ran for 1,089 yards with a single-season school-record 16 touchdowns.
"He runs fast, he jumps high," head coach Jason Garrett said of the 6-foot, 221-pound rookie. "He was a productive player, but you feel like hopefully with coaching or some experience he can turn into something you really like."[embeddedad0]
Jackson took part in the team's rookie minicamp last weekend. He will compete for a spot on the 53-man roster this summer, or perhaps the practice squad, despite that stacked depth chart.
"Oh, it's tough, but I love that," he said. "If you're not down for competition then there's no reason to be here."