The Dallas Cowboys have drafted 5 running backs since 2008, with only one of them coming in the first round. It came with the 22nd overall pick in that 2008 draft, when they selected Arkansas product Felix Jones.
The Cowboys actually left that draft with two running backs, as they took Tashard Choice in the fourth round. Jones and Choice, particularly Jones, were brought in to compliment Marion Barber – who was coming off of a career year.
Barber was a key player for Dallas’ 13-3 season, which ended in the first round of the playoffs. The Cowboys would regress to a 9-7 team in Jones’ rookie year, which was basically the story of his Cowboys career.
Let’s take a closer look in this edition of Cowboys on the Clock.
Jones’ first career carry would go for an 11 yard touchdown in a Cowboys win over the Browns, as his role as a “home run hitter” was off to a good start in 2008. He saw just 30 carries, but averaged 8.9 yards per carry. He also added a 98 yard kickoff return for a score, which came in a divisional win over the Eagles.
Cowboys Nation would get to watch Jones in a larger role during the following 2009 season, as the team returned to the playoffs. Jones handled 116 carries very well throughout the year, as he rushed for 685 yards (5.9 YPC). Marion Barber added 932 yards, the second best output of his career, and the three headed rushing attack for the Cowboys turned out 1,966 yards of offense on the ground thanks to 349 yards from Choice.
As was the case throughout the end of the season, Jones started as the featured back over Barber in the team’s first playoff win since 1996. He would set the franchise record for the longest run in a playoff game by scampering 73 yards to the end zone, and Dallas won the game 34-14 at home against the rival Eagles.
The Cowboys hot streak would end abruptly though, as Brett Favre and the Vikings derailed their season the following week in the NFC Divisional Playoffs. Still, things were looking up for Felix Jones and the Cowboys offense.
Jones began 2010 at the top of the depth chart ahead of Barber, and went for a career best 800 yards. While Barber still added 374 yards on 113 carries, the team felt confident enough in the suddenly-durable Felix Jones (who played in a full 16 games for the first time in his career this season) to release Barber that off season.
DeMarco Murray was added in the draft to be the newest back behind Jones, and would quickly get thrown into the fire when Felix sprained his left ankle in week 5 of 2011. Murray started four games in his absence, before he was then lost for the season due to injury. Jones was ready to come back at the time of Murray’s injury, as he finished out his season with just 127 carries. It would be his second to last season in Dallas.
After missing the 2012 off season program due to a shoulder injury that required surgery, he failed the conditioning test that would set him up as nothing but a change of pace back to Murray for the year. His career worst 3.5 yards per carry did little to motivate the team to re-sign him, as they were ready to move into the era of DeMarco Murray – who of course started through 2014.
Jones went on to be picked up by Philadelphia before being traded to Pittsburgh, where he appeared in every game but saw just 48 carries. It was the last we’ve seen of Felix Jones in the NFL.
The following players have also been selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 22nd overall pick:
Charley Young, 1974, RB
Young was selected with one of two first round picks the Cowboys had in the 1974 draft. The first selection was Ed “Too Tall” Jones. The 22nd overall pick was used on Young, who served only as a reserve player for three seasons as a Cowboy. A torn ligament in his left knee during training camp in 1997 would effectively end his NFL career.
David LaFleur, 2000, TE
The Cowboys traded up for LaFleur in the 2000 draft, passing on Tony Gonzalez to grab the tight end out of Lousiana State instead. He would have one notable year in Dallas, which came in 1999 when he led the NFC in receiving touchdowns from his position – catching 7 scoring passes and going for 322 yards on the season.
Cowboys on the Clock is going Beyond the Clock tomorrow, as Dallas has never selected with the 21st overall pick. Look for our story of a Cowboys undrafted legend right here on Inside The Star!
Thank you for reading this series, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it! To contact me, just leave a comment below this article, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! We will be taking you right up until the night of the draft with “Cowboys on the Clock”.