*(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features running back Lance Dunbar.) *
Name: Lance Dunbar
Position: Running Back
Height/Weight: 5-8 / 191
Experience: 1 season
College: North Texas
Key stat:While he was fifth on the team in carries with just 21, Dunbar's 75 rushing yards ranked third. His 3.6 yard average was tied with Felix Jones (111 carries and 402 yards).
Contract Status:Signed through 2014
2012 Impact: As critical as we can all be about how this team drafts and spends money free agent wise, there is no grounds for what they have been able to do when it comes to adding free agent talent after the draft. When I was a scout for the team it was College Scouting Coordinator Chris Hall that was the driving force for making sure that when the draft was over that we were trying to sign players off our draft board or players that we had listed as priority free agents. Another development of this scouting department was Dallas Day where Hall was able to coordinate with the local players within a 50 mile radius of the Valley Ranch complex to come by to meet and workout for the coaches as well as the scouts. It's a wonderful opportunity not only for these players to get in front of the Cowboys but in turn for them to get to know these players a little better. Lance Dunbar is one of those players that Hall invited to Dallas Day from North Texas where he was able to prove in Oxnard that he deserved an opportunity to make this 53 man roster. Dunbar didn't initially make the roster but show enough to be placed on the practice squad to start the
season but after the bye, he was placed on the roster and never looked back. In his first action against the Ravens, he had an explosive 11 yard carry which opened my eyes from the press box. In that same game he was able to make a special teams tackle as well. Against the Giants he saw his first action in the regular season as a kickoff return man and responded with six returns for 142 yards. In his role as a gunner on the punt team, he was consistently down the field and involved in plays. Dunbar ended the season with 10 special teams tackles. The traits that were the most impressive about Dunbar was not only he speed and quickness but the fearlessness that he played with on special teams. There are times where you take players like Dunbar that is the star of his college team and doesn't get many chances to play on teams but he took to it well and developed as a core player.
Where He Fits: When I worked for Jerry Jones, his vision for the third back on the squad was that of a runner, catcher and blocker but that player had to be outstanding on special teams. Dunbar is somewhat limited by his height as a blocker but he does his best to overcome those short comings. I believe you will continue to see him in the mix as a core special teamer and change of pace type of back. I have seen him carry the load in college with toughness and skill so I am not worried about him getting a number of carries in the game because of his quickness but my gut tells me that he will not be the second back and the front office will address that spot by drafting more of an every down back and keeping Dunbar for those situations where they can use him but on special teams as well.
Writers' Analysis: [embedded_ad]
Nick Eatman –He's the one guy among last year's running backs who had a legitimate burst of speed. We used to think Felix Jones had that and he did in his first couple seasons. Jones didn't show that kind of burst last year and Dunbar was really the only guy who provided that. As it turned out, Dunbar started to get more carries down the stretch and play more on third downs. While he's likely the No. 2 back on the depth chart right now behind DeMarco Murray, there will likely be another back or two added to the mix. Still, Dunbar can set himself apart with his blazing speed and quickness. If he can get bigger and stronger this offseason and maintain that speed, he should have a spot on this roster and maybe even a solid role within the offense.