It's rare that a team's seventh round draft pick is arguably the biggest "name" in that year's class, but that might be the case for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.
By selecting Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough late on day three the Cowboys added some depth to their backfield, but despite his relatively star-level name due to the school he attended, it's fair to ask if there is room for Scarbrough on the Cowboys' final roster.
At 6'1" 235 pounds Scarbrough prides himself on being a tough, bruising back who isn't afraid to run right up the gut of the defense. He isn't really a shifty player who will make people miss in space, rather he will try to run someone over when in that situation.
Scarbrough isn't someone who will make his own running lanes, but he will attempt to get tough yardage when things get mucked up.
When evaluating the Cowboys depth chart, however, it's tough to see exactly where Bo Scarbrough will fit in. At the top you have Ezekiel Elliott, and you know he'll be carrying the bulk of the load this season. After Elliott is running back Rod Smith who came along nicely with increased opportunities during Elliott's suspension in 2017.
Then there's Tavon Austin, who the Cowboys have made a point to say will get at least "a dozen" touches per game. That's a lot of bodies and versatility in the running game, which will make it difficult for a running back like Scarbrough to find time.
In the end, it will probably come down to whether or not Scarbrough can play special teams. He doesn't seem to fit the bill of a return man, but maybe he could work on the kick and kick return teams in different roles. He will have to prove his special teams ability to the coaching staff during the preseason if he hopes to make the final roster.
The best play for Bo Scarbrough may be for the Cowboys to place him on the practice squad. This way the Cowboys can given him another year to develop while still working within their system.
This will also give the Cowboys time to evaluate what they really have in Tavon Austin and Rod Smith before making binding decisions.
Cowboys RB Bo Scarbrough Tabbed to “Exceed Expectations” in Rookie Season
Given their rich history at the position, and current resources allocated to the running game, the addition of any running backs to the Dallas Cowboys roster is always noteworthy. Making two-time national champion Running Back Bo Scarbrough their last pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys did as well as they could at 236th overall.
Naturally, a prospect that played at Alabama has garnered plenty of attention as a potential compliment to Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas. This would of course be exceptional value for the Cowboys to get out of their ninth player drafted.
NFL.com's Lance Zierlein gets much further into the draft than just the recognizable players such as Scarbrough. This is why it's noteworthy to see the rookie back land on his list of "seven late-round picks likely to exceed expectations in 2018".
In his brief overview of the loaded backfield that Scarbrough finds himself in, Zierlein writes that:
"Ezekiel Elliott is clearly capable of handling the lion's share of duties on all three downs, but Scarbrough is a downhill runner who has the size and demeanor to help the Cowboys continue to impose their will on the ground when Elliott is resting. I can envision Scarbrough thriving in a complementary role similar to the one the Titans' Derrick Henry has played behind DeMarco Murray for much of his career. Landing Scarbrough in the seventh round could turn out to be a tremendous steal this season."
The name clearly missing from this quote is Rod Smith. Likely posing the biggest threat to Scarbrough's roster spot, Smith embodies what the Cowboys are looking for in a back that can do it all - spelling Elliott as a capable runner and receiver while also contributing on special teams.
Proving himself on just 55 carries for 232 yards this season, Smith's roster spot feels safe entering 2018. As seventh round picks should have to do in making a contending team's roster, Scarbrough will have to excel in ways he never did at Alabama in order to earn a spot behind Smith.
It's also interesting to see Zierlein mention former Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray in the scheme of two physical running backs coexisting.
If their better understanding of what Rod Smith can do on offense wasn't enough of an indicator, the Cowboys also traded for two backfield additions this offseason in Tavon Austin and Fullback Jamize Olawale.
There is little doubt that the Cowboys will hold true in their commitment to backfield depth again this season. The versatility and overall readiness of this unit is a direct extension of the best positional group in the league, being the Cowboys offensive line.
The idea of handing the ball to Bo Scarbrough late in games against a defense already shredded by Elliott is a great one for Cowboys Nation. It is one that many national writers will continue to mention in their discussions of how the Cowboys can return to form after a surprising 9-7 setback last year.
Unless Scarbrough is able to elevate his game on special teams or as a pass catcher, he faces an uphill battle to live up to nearly any expectations on the table for him right now. Nonetheless, the Cowboys have an exciting player to utilize this summer through the preseason in hopes of maximizing Scarbrough's upside.
In his more in-depth scouting report of Scarbrough, Zierlein sees the player similarly, giving him an overall grade of 5.50. This translates to Scarbrough having a "chance to become an NFL starter," a position happily occupied by Ezekiel Elliott for hopefully years to come in Dallas.
Cowboys G Zack Martin Skips OTA Amid Contract Negotiation
You can now add Cowboys Guard Zack Martin to the list of elite NFL players currently skipping voluntary Organized Team Activities. Some are skipping just for veteran rest or to avoid injury, and others like Martin are still trying to work out new contracts with their clubs.
As usual, ESPN's Todd Archer was the first to break the news:
All-Pro right guard Zack Martin did not take part in Tuesday's OTA and it's not clear if he will work in any of them, according to multiple sources. The Cowboys and Martin's agents have been in talks regarding a long-term deal over the last few weeks.... espn.com/espn/now?nowId...
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Le'Veon Bell, Julio Jones, Aaron Donald... many of the best in the business are not currently with their teams for a variety of reasons. "Voluntary" often gets forgotten when it comes to OTAs, and absent players are often portrayed as committing a sin rather than exercising their right.
For a guy like Zack Martin, who is in the middle of a major contract negotiation, avoiding unnecessary injury is just smart policy. One bad moment and he could be like Chargers Tight End Hunter Henry, who has likely suffered a season-ending ACL injury yesterday.
Of course, you'd ideally like all of your players present at any team function. But tens of millions of dollars are on the line for Martin over the next two months, making this a time when the business side of professional football takes precedence.
It's not all bad that he's gone, either.
In Zack's absence, newcomers like Marcus Martin get a chance to work with the first team offense. Those reps could come in handy down the road if the backups ever get called into action during the regular season.
It's far too early to hit any panic buttons about Zack Martin's status with the team. Until he would actually hold out during a mandatory camp, this is just smart business on his part and what happens throughout the league during contract negotiations.
Nothing to see here. Move along.
Cowboys Zack Martin Graded as NFL’s Best Run-Blocking Guard
You already knew that Cowboys Guard Zack Martin was one of the elite players at his position in the entire NFL. According to one respected source, he graded out last year as the top run blocker of all guards.
Zack's been to the Pro Bowl every year since he entered the NFL and been a First or Second Team All-Pro as well, so this grade isn't surprising. Even non-Cowboys analysts have called him in the best in the game.
It's worth noting, though, as Zack remains in contract negotiations with the Cowboys for a long-term deal.
With Martin's rookie deal expiring in 2017, Dallas picked up the fifth-year option for players taken in the first round. Zack will be playing 2018 on a one-year, $9.3 million salary in what is essentially a smaller version of a franchise tag.
This is the time of the year when major contract extensions often happen, though. With the flurry of free agency, scouting, and the draft now behind them, teams are in a better position to focus on negotiations.
For example, Dez Bryant signed his massive five-year deal on July 15th, 2015.
There is little doubt that the Cowboys and Zack Martin will reach an agreement on a new deal. But this grade report from Pro Football Focus is a good reminder of just how special Martin is, and how high his asking price is sure to be.
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