With 6,405 rushing yards at San Diego State, production was never an issue for Donnel Pumphrey – who graduated as the FBS' all time leading rusher. When it comes to the tough business that is the NFL though, Pumphrey's size and strength issues are already affecting him as a prospect. Projected as a late round project back, the Dallas Cowboys met with Donnel Pumphrey Thursday, reportedly talking mostly about his special teams ability.
Donnel Pumphrey San Diego State RB said that he met with the Cowboys last night. Special teams was the discussion. pic.twitter.com/JWXZL3JvqB
— BryanBroaddus (@BryanBroaddus) March 2, 2017
Asides from measuring in at 5'8″ and 176 pounds (a seven pound weight improvement from the Senior Bowl), Pumphrey also doesn't have the return experience that teams will try to project when valuing his draft stock.
As a freshman, Donnel Pumphrey returned four kickoffs for an average of 15.8 yards – not fielding another kickoff or punt until the 2016 season – in which he returned a kickoff six yards.
These uninspiring numbers don't mean that the Cowboys won't grade Pumphrey as the mid-round running back most are expecting them to target in backing up Ezekiel Elliott and potentially replacing one or more of Lance Dunbar, Darren McFadden, or Alfred Morris.
The Dallas Cowboys will hardly be the last team to talk to Donnel Pumphrey at this Combine and gauge his interest in trying to be a breakthrough player in the NFL due to his physical build, along with his ability and willingness to play special teams.
A dynamic return man is certainly a missing element on the current Cowboys' roster, and they have already tried to potentially fill this hole with Canadian Football League star Quincy McDuffie. Now at the NFL Combine, a new wave of players presents itself from the NCAA ranks to be the missing piece that 32 fan bases hope put their teams over the top.
For the Dallas Cowboys, it is not unrealistic to think that they are just a few players away from that Lombardi Trophy, and every player – even Donnel Pumphrey – should understand that walking in to be interviewed by America's Team.
The roster build never ends.