IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys can take their time while searching for a running back in the NFL Draft.
Most of the obvious needs for the Cowboys can be filled with capable offensive linemen, defensive linemen and safeties in the first couple rounds, but this year's stock of running backs features few early-round selections and a load of value toward the bottom of the draft.
Multiple outlets provide input on where they expect the top prospects to come off the board later in April (CBSSports.com's prospects page gives a decent look at where to value players at each position). One constant across the board is the amount of talent that should still be around as teams enter the final day of the draft.
The Cowboys could still pull the trigger on a running back early in the first few rounds. From Alabama's Eddie Lacy to North Carolina's Giovani Bernard to Oklahoma State's Joseph Randle, there are a few players worthy of a selection in that range. But apart from Lacy, it'd be unlikely to see any of these players go in the first round.
By the mid-rounds, 6-foot-2, 230-pound Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell, who took a pre-draft visit to the Cowboys, should be available. Bell ran for 1,793 yards his senior year and averaged at least 4.7 yards per rush each of his three seasons.
A bigger back could help answer the durability concerns the Cowboys have had and would provide a different style of running back to complement Murray than they've had in years past.
Other running backs that should still be available in the later rounds, like Oregon's Kenjon Barner, could provide elusiveness and a knack for receiving out of the backfield. The speed of Arkansas' Knile Davis, LSU's Michael Ford, Auburn's Onterio McCalebb and Florida's Mike Gillislee could be intriguing, and all-around backs like Nebraska's Rex Burkhead and Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy should also be available after the third round.
The Cowboys need to hit on this draft and be able to plug players in immediately, including draft picks that don't get selected in the first few rounds. This year's crop of running backs should allow them to find a player to compete immediately without burning a top pick, should the Cowboys choose to wait.