*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 2015 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features running back Joseph Randle.*
Name: Joseph Randle
Experience: 2 seasons
College: Oklahoma State
Key stat:Randle had one of the NFL's highest average per carry at 6.7, despite just 51 attempts. He did have the Cowboys' longest rush from scrimmage with a 65-yard run in the season finale vs. Washington and scored three touchdowns.
Contract Status:Signed through 2016
2014 Impact: Is one of those players that played well when he got the opportunity but honestly was looking for more from him from what I had seen from his rookie season. Where I felt like he did approve as a player was with his conditioning. Came into the season with a much different body type which I feel helped him tremendously. He played with more explosiveness than he did the previous season. He has always been able to run with power and strength but now there is some elusiveness to his game. Instead of just bouncing off tacklers he is now able to avoid those collisions. His overall styling improved just by reshaping his body. He is a really nice fit in this zone running scheme because of
the feel that he has a one cut runner which is his strength. What has helped him with his reshaped body is what he does on the second level. He is a load for defensive backs to have to deal with when he gets in the open field. He is a strong runner. There is some violence to his game. If there were concerns that I had going into the season it was with his ability to understand where he fit in blitz pickup and how he was going to execute those blocks. In the opportunities he got during the season - he had improved from his rookie season. Did a much better job with his strike and sustain. Showed up on special teams in a positive light. Was not a liability at all. Physical player covering kicks.
Where He Fits: You would think that with the departure of DeMarco Murray to the Eagles that it would be a natural fit for Randle to step right up and take the job but that's not the case at all. The ink wasn't dry on Murray's contract when the front office made the move to go grab Darren McFadden from the Raiders. This tells me a great deal about Randle's situation with the club. From my experience in the league, this appears to be a trust issue with the player from the coaches and front office. You factor in what has been his off the field issues and maybe some issues with day-to-day preparations - then that trust factor becomes very small. My feeling is that the club will draft a running back and Randle will be in a fight to keep his job which is on him.
Nick Eatman:This one is hard to evaluate because so many things are up in the air regarding Randle and the running back position. For him, he's got some off-the-field issues that must be cleared up. He could be staring at a possible suspension, depending on the results of a few legal matters. And even without that, Randle might not be atop the Cowboys' priority list, even with the departure of DeMarco Murray. The signing of Darren McFadden doesn't exactly push him out the door but let's see what happens in the draft. If the Cowboys get another running back, coupled with McFadden, Dunbar and Ryan Williams, someone has to be the odd man out and could be the guy with the off-the-field issues. As a player, I do like what I've seen, but I've learned a long time ago not to be fooled by the backup tailback who comes in fresh and makes a few nice plays. We need to see the guy get carry after carry and still produce at a high level.