KNOXVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 10: Andrew Baggett #99 of the Missouri Tigers celebrates with Kendial Lawrence #4 after kicking a 35-yard field goal in the fourth overtime to win the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Missouri won 51-48. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Earlier this week, I broke down undrafted free agent acquisitions Brandon Magee and Jakar Hamilton. I chose those players because they likely have the best chance to make the Cowboys’ roster. The ‘Boys dished out $70,000 in guaranteed money to Magee, meaning he’s probably better than a coin flip to be on the team after training camp. Hamilton was a big-school player who transferred to South Carolina State and, despite lots of competition at safety, he has deep skills that the Cowboys don’t necessarily possess elsewhere.
I didn’t know too much about the other undrafted free agents, so I spent the morning gathering as much information as possible. I came away with a favorite: Missouri running back Kendial Lawrence.
Lawrence is a small running back at 5-9, 194 pounds. The height doesn’t scare me—plenty of short backs have thrived in the NFL—but the weight is a concern. If Lawrence can beef up to over 200 pounds without losing speed, the Cowboys could have something here. To be fair, Lawrence’s body mass index (which is actually strongly correlated with NFL success) is 28.6—higher than Joseph Randle’s 27.7 BMI. So although short, there shouldn’t be too much concern that Lawrence can’t hold up.
When we’re looking at running backs from a measurables standpoint, the first things to consider are weight and long speed. If you’re deficient in one, you better make up for it in the other. And Lawrence does. He ran as low as a 4.33 40-yard dash at his pro day. That puts him in rare company with a group of running backs who have far out-produced even those backs in the 4.4 range.
Since Lawrence played in a major conference, we can also use his college stats as a predictor. In four seasons, Lawrence carried the ball 444 times for 2,232 yards—5.0 YPC—adding 21 touchdowns and 40 receptions. Lawrence averaged 5.1 YPC on a lackluster Missouri squad in the school’s first year in the SEC, which is a decent mark.
What I Like
Lawrence was relatively productive in college, and he has the speed you want in a running back. He’s undersized, but his body type doesn’t concern me nearly as much as fifth-round pick Joseph Randle (6-0, 204 pounds).
What I Don’t Like
Lawrence caught only 10 passes per season at Missouri. That could be due to the nature of their offense, but his best chance to make the Cowboys is as a third-down back. He’ll need to show he can pass protect and haul in receptions to make the roster.
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.