ST PETERSBURG, FL - DECEMBER 21: Running back Latavius Murray #28 of the Central Florida Knights runs out of the grasp of linebacker Justin Cruz #48 of the Ball State Cardinals during the Beef 'O' Brady's St Petersburg Bowl Game at Tropicana Field on December 21, 2012 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Central Florida running back Latavius Murray never received more than 198 carries in a season, but he still ran for 1,106 yards, 5.6 yards-per-carry, and 15 touchdowns in 2012. Murray took 8.2 percent of his career carries into the end zone.
It’s really amazing that there isn’t more hype surrounding Murray, who could very well possess the top combination of size and speed of any running back in this draft. At 6-3, 223 pounds, Murray ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, jumped 36 inches vertically, and recorded a 10-4 broad jump.
On tape, Murray reminds me a lot of Arkansas running back Knile Davis in that he’s not extremely elusive. Both Davis and Murray turned in average short shuttle times—Murray’s was 4.36—which suggests they have more long speed than short-area quickness.
Murray is a quality all-around running back who can stay on the field on third down. He caught 44 passes over the past two seasons at Central Florida and he looks really good in pass protection. It’s also worth noting that Murray never lost a fumble.
NFL Comparison: Ben Tate
It’s difficult to find a comp who matches Murray’s height, which could actually be a concern for some teams. Tate is a shorter back, but just as explosive.
Murray is going to be a late-round pick, probably in the sixth or seventh round. He’s going to drop because he looks a little stiff on tape, but he’s undoubtedly worth a selection in the late rounds. He’s a big, fast, explosive player with good production. He’s basically Knile Davis at a lower cost. Murray has the high ceiling teams should covet in late-round picks.
On top of that, late-round running backs are great investments in general. Historically, a running back’s draft slot hasn’t been a factor in his NFL efficiency; late-round running backs have posted the same YPC—actually slightly higher—as compared to first and second-round running backs.
Fit In Dallas
I think the Cowboys will try to address the running back position in the middle rounds, but Murray could be a consideration if they miss out. His upside is obvious and he compares favorably to a lot of the backs who are mentioned as mid-round considerations.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.