Scouting the NFL Draft: Fits at Running Back

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The Cowboys are in decent shape at the running back position for the upcoming season, giving them flexibility in the draft.

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The team should look for high-ceiling runners that slip. Three candidates that could be good values in the middle rounds include:

Devontae Booker, Utah
Ht. 5'11", Wt. 219, Arm: 31 ⅝", Hand: 8 ⅝", Bench: 22
40 yd: -, 10 yd.: -, 3 Cone: -, Vertical: -, Broad: -

Booker transferred from American River College to Utah before the 2014 season and then tore up the Pac 12 to the tune of 2,773 yards and 21 TDs in two seasons. His senior season came to an early end when he tore his meniscus in November, but he was still named second-team all-conference.

• Pros: Size, pad level, hands, pass protection, laterally shifty, vision, burst
• Cons: Stops feet, injury, workload, long speed

Booker is a well-built bowling ball that runs violently once he gets a head of steam. He's not a home run threat, but he looks like a three-down back with the traits to be a feature back in a zone scheme.

Verdict: Round 2

Paul Perkins, UCLA
Ht. 5'10", Wt. 208, Arm: 31 ⅝", Hand: 9", Bench: 19
40 yd: 4.54, 10 yd.: 1.62, 3 Cone: -, Vertical: 32", Broad: 10'4"

Perkins was one of the most productive backs in the country, racking up 2,915 yards, averaging a shade less than 6 yards per carry, and 23 TDs in his two full seasons as a starter. Football is in his blood, with his father, Bruce, playing eight seasons as a fullback and his uncle, Don, spending eight seasons with the Cowboys.

• Pros: Quickness, cuts, pass catching, vision, patience, maximizes runs
• Cons: Maxed out size, pass protection, durability

Perkins lacks the size of a traditional bellcow, but his exceptional vision and undeniable quickness should earn him NFL carries. He's a dangerous change of pace back at worst, but his traits make him a good candidate for the Cowboys zone-based attack.

Verdict: Round 3

Keith Marshall, Georgia
Ht. 5'11", Wt. 219, Arm: 31 ⅝", Hand: 9 ⅜", Bench: 25
40 yd: 4.31, 10 yd.: 1.53, 3 Cone: -, Vertical: 30.5", Broad: -

Marshall was the other 5-star runner that committed to Georgia before the 2012 season, spelling Todd Gurley at 6.5 yards per carry and scoring 8 TDs as a freshman. A knee injury suffered during his sophomore season derailed the remainder of his career with the Bulldogs and he opted to enter the draft rather than seek a medical redshirt.

• Pros: Upside, size, speed, strength, burst
• Cons: Injury, hesitant, slower cuts

Marshall looked like a future first-round pick as a freshman, but he ran much more tentatively in his return to full action last season. He looked like a Day 3 back on film, but he's worth a pick in the fourth or fifth round on the chance that he'll look more like he did as a freshman with time.

Verdict: Round 4

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