Entering the NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys were looking for a No. 2 running back to get carries behind DeMarco Murray. What they landed in the fifth round was a three-down runner that compares well to the team’s starter.
Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle was selected by the Cowboys with the 151st overall pick, making him the 10th running back drafted. With free agent Felix Jones’ time likely done in Dallas, the Cowboys needed someone to compliment Murray, the team’s leading rusher but also someone who has missed nine games over the last two years.
Last season, Murray carried 161 times. Jones was next in line with 111 rushes, followed by Phillip Tanner with 25 and Lance Dunbar with 21. Even if Murray avoids injury, Randle should be stepping into a significant role.
“I can’t envision Murray carrying the entire load for an entire game,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Saturday night. “In Dunbar, we’ve got a back that we really like a lot, and he’s very natural in what he does, but he’s your third back. He’s not the guy that comes in and carries a big part of that load.”
The Cowboys are hoping Randle is capable of taking on that workload. And Jerry Jones’ relationship with Oklahoma State athletic booster T. Boone Pickens might’ve provided the Cowboys with some additional intelligence.
“We had a lot of great information about his entire Oklahoma State [career],” Jerry Jones said. “I respect and know the coach over there really well. Boone’s one of my three or four best friends there are, and Boone gets you some information over there.”
Randle rushed for 1,216 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore and 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns last year. So why did he last until the 18th pick in the fifth round? Well, it could be because he’s dealing with a thumb injury.
Jerry Jones said Randle will wear a club-like cast and be limited in OTAs and minicamp but it won’t prevent the 21-year-old from participating in training camp.
“He’s been a real productive player as a runner,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Not only as a runner, but as a receiver, and he certainly has all the physical traits you want. But you also feel like he’s a guy who is going to get bigger and stronger. He’s a six-foot 205-pound guy now, and he can probably be even bigger than that as he grows into his body even more. You see quickness, explosiveness in a fairly big body, and some versatility.”