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NFC East Position Rankings: The Running Backs

Kevin Brady

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Ezekiel Elliott, Eagles

Last week we took a look at the starting quarterbacks in the NFC East, ranking them and deciding who reigns supreme atop the division.

After coming to the conclusion that the Philadelphia Eagles currently have the best quarterback situation in the NFL, we now move onto the next offensive position group to rank across the division. A group so strong that even a former 1,000 yard rusher will find himself at the bottom of these rankings.

The running backs.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Despite coming in last in our running back group rankings, the Eagles have arguably a top 2 rushing attack in this division. The thing is, I believe much of that can be attributed to their offensive line rather than individual talent at the running back position.

Former Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi had a nice year with the Eagles in 2017 and is penciled in as the starter this season as well. He's a former 1,000 yard rusher and ran for 873 on 208 carries a year ago, but the rest of the NFC East is simply deeper at the position.

Currently behind Ajayi are players like Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Donnel Pumphrey, and Josh Adams; all three of which are yet to really make their mark on the NFL stage. Adams, the rookie out of Notre Dame, may be a sleeper to win some carries in 2018, however.

Darren Sproles also returns from a season ending injury a year ago, but it's fair to wonder just how much the aging veteran has left to give.

3. New York Giants

Despite using the second overall pick in last year's draft to select a running back, the New York Giants currently come in third in our position group power rankings.

Yes, I fully expect rookie Saquon Barkley to be a beast at the next level and add a dimension to the Giants offense which they haven't had in quite some time. But I also don't think that as an overall unit their running backs are all that impressive.

Behind Barkley is veteran Jonathan Stewart, who appeared to be on his last leg in Carolina. Second year running back Wayne Gallman is also still on the roster, and could be the third down/change of pace pass catcher out of the backfield any offense needs.

Barkley is going to eat up the majority of snaps and carries, as he should, but I just need to see it out of him in the NFL before anointing their running back group a higher spot in this division.

2. Washington Redskins

It's quite possible that the Washington Redskins have the deepest running back group in the NFC East after drafting LSU RB Derrius Guice in the 2018 NFL Draft. Guice now joins a group already containing Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, and Chris Thompson, all of which have been productive at points in their NFL careers.

Guice is currently regarded as RB2 on this roster, but I fully expect him to win the starting job by the beginning of the season.

With Derrius Guice running behind Washington's solid offensive line, and Chris Thompson providing the pass catching threat out of the backfield, the Redskins pose a serious threat on the ground in 2018.

1. Dallas Cowboys

It can be argued that the Cowboys suffer some of the same "depth" issues at running back behind Ezekiel Elliott that the Giants do behind Barkley, but when you're starter is a top three runner in football, those issues don't matter much.

Elliott has proven over the first two years of his career just how valuable he is to the Cowboys offense, as they look like a completely different (and much worse) team when he isn't out there.

Behind Elliott is fellow Ohio State alum Rod Smith. Smith filled in admirably for Elliott when given opportunity to do so in 2017, and will be an interesting player to watch with Elliott back in the line up this season.

Bo Scarbrough and Darius Jackson will battle it out for the RB3 job in Dallas, but regardless of the winner, this is one of the top rushing attacks in all of football, and the best in the NFC East.



Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

https://twitter.com/tae15adams/status/1108158105957920770

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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