Cowboys Draft: Mid-Round Gamebreaker RB?

Sep 19, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise (20) carries the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 19, 2015; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back C.J. Prosise (20) carries the ball against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys are in dire need of a young ball carrier to run behind the best offensive line in football. This mid-round gem may be the gamebreaker they’re looking for….

The Cowboys added RB Alfred Morris to their stable of RBs this offseason but that certainly doesn’t preclude them from investing a draft pick in the position. Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Lance Dunbar all offer stability at RB for the Dallas Cowboys but to most in Cowboys Nation, stable just isn’t good enough.

Many, yours truly included, believe the running game must be addressed in the draft, and that the best way to improve the Cowboys team, is to improve the running game. The Cowboys have the 3rd down back in Dunbar, the grinder in Morris, and the stability in McFadden, but lack the big-play homerun threat.

C.J. Prosise could be just the RB they need…

Related Story: The Case FOR Zeke Elliott at RB

Before we say anything too declarative about the Notre Dame gamebreaker, we must first admit the sample size is extremely limited. Prosise began his college career as a safety and was immediately moved to receiver. Injuries dictated a move to RB and when starting RB, Tarean Folston, suffered a season-ending injury in week 1, Prosise’s move paid off.

C.J. Prosise went on to play nine complete games in 2015 and after racking up 1,032 on just 156 carries, he declared for the NFL Draft.

Nine games of experience isn’t much film to study, and speaking as someone who watched all of his 2015 snaps, Prosise offered up plenty of good as well as a little bit of bad.

First, the Good 

C.J. Prosise averaged  6.6 yards per carry against some pretty formidable defenses. His 11 touchdowns came from long distance as well as goal line situations. The converted WR was also a threat in the passing game, often lining up in the slot and running clean routes typical of a WR.

C.J. Prosise appears to be the type of 1-cut RB that would thrive in the Dallas Cowboys’ offense. He gets to top speed in a hurry and wholeheartedly commits to hitting the hole. At 6’0” 220lbs, Prosise has the big build sought after in today’s NFL.

He runs surprisingly low for a converted WR and can maintain balance after the hit like successful RBs are expected to do. His 4.48 40-time (2.64 20-time) illustrates his quickness and ability to break off long runs and is built stout enough to sustain some abuse.

His film shows patience, vision, and top speed. I highly recommend watching his highlights here. Keep in mind, all of these are only from nine games worth of film…

Then, the Bad

Some of the criticism of C.J. Prosise revolves around his inexperience. While he thrived in the Notre Dame zone-read blocking scheme, he did understandably struggle with consistently finding the best possible crease to cut through.

His blitz pick-up is also lacking a great deal, making him a liability as a pass-protector on passing downs. Since the Cowboys only keep their RBs in to pass-protect about 25% of the time on passing downs, this isn’t a deal breaker but it’s certainly something that Jason Garrett finds important and could potentially keep him off the field.

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I mentioned that Prosise runs low for a converted WR, but compared to his fellow RBs, it’s still too high. Prosise is built well and appears to have the body to be a lead back in the NFL but he needs to lower his pads and avoid the direct hits or he won’t be able to stay healthy (like what happened at ND).

C.J. Prosise has been developing quite the fan following this offseason. His big-play ability is easy to fall in love with and his always-appealing potential is through the roof. But with only nine games to pull from, he also has a litany of question marks.

The truth is C.J. Prosise is raw prospect with top-end ability and natural vision. Unlike most RBs, he may take some time to hit his full stride in the NFL. The good news is even at half stride he looks like a gamebreaker. He had some ball security issues in 2015 but considering how large and strong his hands are, the fumbles are likely coachable and not a true weakness.

Next: Draft: WR Corey Coleman too Good to Pass Up

C.J. Prosise will be able to contribute from day 1, but he will need to be developed to become a reliable starter in the NFL. If the Cowboys are truly content leaning on McFadden and Morris, Prosise could be groomed in 2016 and establish himself as a lead horse in year 2.