Last season the Dallas Cowboys only had Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard on the 53-man roster at running back. If they extend the depth chart in 2020, undrafted free agent Rico Dowdle is among the prospects hoping to earn a job.
Dowdle joined the Cowboys after a four-year stint with South Carolina. He was a starter when healthy but battled injuries throughout his college career, limiting his production and consistency.
Still, Rico did enough to be invited to the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. The 6’0″, 208-lb. running back posted a 4.54 time in the 40-yard dash and 38″ vertical jump.
There was enough in his athleticism and college tape to get Dowdle signed by Dallas. Now Rico will enter their training camp with a fairly open competition for the bottom of the RB depth chart.
If there’s a front-runner right now it would have to be Jordan Chunn, who has two years of practice squad work going for him. But while those developmental years are valuable, they also have Chunn at 25-years-old now and could have Dallas looking for a younger player to work with.
Also in the mix are two TCU backs, Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua. I wrote about Anderson’s prospects of making the team a few weeks ago. As for Olonilua, Dallas has already listed him as a fullback on their roster.
If the Cowboys are looking for an all-purpose back to put behind Zeke and Pollard than Rico Dowdle may be the best candidate. Chunn is more of a bruising, short-yardage guy and Anderson is more of a scatback like they already have in Pollard.
The big issue with Dowdle, as it’s been the last four years, will be health. If he has any issues staying on the field during camp or the preseason, Dallas isn’t going want to waste valuable developmental work on him even on the practice squad.
Making the 53-man roster would also mean finding a role on special teams. That’s how past RBs like Phillip Tanner and Rod Smith stuck around in past years, being standouts on the Cowboys’ coverage teams.
Dallas didn’t keep a 3rd RB last year because they had better options for special teams players at other positions such as linebacker and cornerback. Many of those players, such as CB C.J. Goodwin and LB Justin March, are still on the roster.
It’s quite possible, and perhaps even likely, that none of Rico Dowdle, Darius Anderson, or Jordan Chunn will make the roster this year. Dallas has a hard enough time giving Tony Pollard the number of touches he deserves, plus FB Jamize Olawale serves as an emergency 3rd running back.
But if there is a spot to be had for one more RB in 2020, Dowdle has the all-around game to be a contender for it. Hopefully he stays healthy enough, and shows up on special teams, to be competitive.