Running Back Bo Scarbrough is used to the big stage, going from the University of Alabama to the Dallas Cowboys in this year’s draft. But the rookie’s college pedigree doesn’t insure him of anything in the pros. In fact, he’s likely fighting an uphill battle for a roster spot.
At best, Scarbrough would be third on the Cowboys’ RB depth chart in 2018. Rod Smith’s experience and versatility make him the better backup to Ezekiel Elliott. Smith’s proven ability to play special teams also makes it easier to get him on the active 46 every week.
Tavon Austin is also a consideration. The veteran free agent is listed at running back, and even though he may be more of a RB/WR hybrid that roster spot is easier to take from the runners. Elliott’s heavy workload as a starter alleviates the need to go long.
That said, on Thursday I posted my latest 53-man roster projection and had Scarbrough making the team. Here is what I said about his opportunity:
“Scarbrough is an interesting case. We’re all excited about him getting a head of steam running behind the Cowboys’ offensive line. But how much will he actually get to play with the first-team line? Will he get to look impressive behind Joe Looney and Chaz Green?
Helping the rookie is that Rod Smith has an expiring contract, so I think Dallas will find ways to give Bo looks to determine his long-term value. A battering ram is nice as a backup, particularly for later in games after the defense is already worn down.”
Even if he doesn’t get to run behind Travis Frederick and Zack Martin much, Scarbrough can still impress before final cuts. Opposing defenses are pretty bad late in preseason games, and talented runners can often shine as long as their blocking is even semi solvent.
But even if Bo shows well in August, the numbers game may still do him in.
As already mentioned, Dallas will be using a roster spot on Tavon Austin as a hybrid player. They also may want to go long at receiver with the uncertainty around new arrivals such as Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Deonte Thompson.
There’s also tight end to consider. On my last projection I had Dallas keeping just three players. But Rico Gathers or Blake Jarwin could easily make themselves more desirable to keep.
That decision could come down to who the Cowboys think they can get to the practice squad. Dallas already had to sign Jarwin last year to keep him from being poached by the Eagles. Gathers would also be tough to stash given what he flashed in the last preseason, let alone what he may do this year.
That’s not to say Scarbrough will be any easier, but the Cowboys also have Darius Jackson in the mix. They could be okay with risking the seventh-round rookie to free agency with their former sixth-round pick available.
And really, who’s to say that Jackson won’t be more intriguing than Scarbrough by the end of preseason?
That is why Scabrough is the 53rd man on my last roster projection. The depth at his position and other needs on the offensive roster make his spot extremely perilous. I do like his potential, but I’ve learned to never get too attached to a late-round rookie.