There has recently been a lot of talk about the Dallas Cowboys’ depth at running back. While I am personally of the ilk that you don’t need some “bell cow” running back, there are still people who believe that a bell cow is necessary for this era of football.
While there is a lot of evidence to the contrary, it is a position that people are still concerned about. So instead of focusing on whether running backs matter or not, we will simply look at the depth chart as it stands.
The far-and-away favorite for the starting running back is Tony Pollard. Pollard performed well in 2022 and was the more efficient and effective running back between himself and Ezekiel Elliott to the point the Dallas Cowboys felt that Elliott, with his cost, was expendable.
Pollard will be the primary back and while he may not be the traditional short-yardage style back Elliott was in 2022, He will get the bulk of carries barring injury. It is the position behind him that is the big unknown.
Heading into 2023 the Dallas Cowboys have Tony Pollard as the starter, but the depth is a question and each player offers some interesting possibilities.
Before we get into the actual running back depth, the one name that you won’t see listed is Hunter Leupke. Leupke is thought to be more of a fullback, and while he offers the short-yardage ability, much of what many expect is for him to play a traditional up-back for blocking and possibly split out or on the edge in certain situations. So while we talk about running backs, Leupke will usually be left out of the discussion.
The backup position is up for grabs with Malik Davis, Ronald Jones, and Rico Dowdle probably getting the first crack. Davis and Dowdle have performed well in the short time and attempts they have been given, but when Davis wasn’t used in the playoffs once Pollard went down, there is a thought he is not ready for a big role. If that holds true, then Jones or Dowdle could be the backup to Pollard. Jones, of course, has the most experience of the trio.
Of the said trio, Jones has the most experience not just rushing but receiving as well. In his career, Jones has 77 catches and almost 600 yards with only one touchdown. Of the other two only Davis has a reception with one. That means if they want a back who is a receiving threat, Jones may be the player they would turn to behind Pollard. However, of the three, Dowdle has the special teams experience that they could hold onto.
The wildcard in all of this is rookie Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn’s college career was loaded with explosive plays both in rushing and passing games. He has the speed and agility that could be a weapon the Cowboys may fear they would lose if they try to move him to the practice squad. Vaughn is not the type of back a team would want to use to pound the ball on the goal line, but he is a weapon in space.
If the Dallas Cowboys want to have a short-yardage back behind Pollard, then Davis is the guy they could turn to. However, if they want to have another speedy weapon then Vaughn or Dowdle could be the choice. If Vaughn can play special teams, then Dowdle could be the odd man out at the end of it all.
Jones gives a little bit of everything with the veteran experience that is fairly lacking in the position. It might force the Dallas Cowboys to keep four running backs if we include Leupke.
For now, it looks like it could fall out to be Pollard, Jones, Vaughn, and Leupke. But Davis and Dowdle will get the chance to fall somewhere in there. I don’t think (unless there are injuries) that the Cowboys will add to the position.
With Mike McCarthy calling plays, the position could look a little different than it has in recent years, even if we all know the front office has traditionally believed the offense moves through the position.
- Published on 06/27/2023 at 16:01 PM
- Last updated at 06/27/2023 at 16:01 PM