Why Not McGahee?

Even if the Cowboys don't trade down in the 2003 NFL Draft to acquire multiple picks in the second round, why wouldn't they take a chance on Miami running back Willis McGahee? Simply put, McGahee represents the most versatile, most electricfying running back available this year.

Willis McGahee, a star running back out of Miami who suffered three torn ligaments in the national championship game loss to Ohio State on January 3rd, underwent reconstructive surgery just two days later.

At the time, most experts conceded that his stock would plummet should he decide to enter the NFL Draft.

As it turns out, those experts were wrong.

McGahee, who would have easily been a top five pick before the injury, might be able to actually play football as soon as this year should he continue to speed through the rehabilitation process.

The sophomore running back was the Big East Co-Offensive Player of the Year after carrying the ball 282 times, rushing for a school record 1,753 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes for 355 yards which gave him another record of 2,036 all-purpose yards. In all, he broke seven Miami records last season, including total touchdowns, touchdowns in a game, total points and 100 yard rushing games.

"He's an explosive ball handler with tremendous running back skills," notes NFL Draft Expert Tony Pauline.

"He displays vision, finds the running lanes and makes defenders miss anywhere on the field. He sets up and follows his blocks, keeps his feet moving up the field, working his run to pick up as much yardage as possible. He also can slide off defenders, break tackles and stay on his feet."

McGahee rushed 282 times for a school record 1,753 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also caught 27 passes for 355 yards which gave him another record of 2,036 all-purpose yards. (Getty)
While the scouting reports are generally nothing but positive for this young man, the devestating knee injury he suffered against Ohio State in early January has some teams scared to take a chance on drafting him- even in the later rounds.

My question to those teams is....why?

All indications are that McGahee will not be drafted in the first round, and that's more than understandable considering the circumstances.

And even with his tremendous success in rehab, there still is justified concern in selecting McGahee with your only first round pick. However, after that first round passes us by on April 26th, all bets are off.

Drafting a running back with this much pure talent in the second round seems hardly like "taking a risk" if he's available.

And that brings us to the Dallas Cowboys.

Bill Parcells and company could be in prime position to make a run for McGahee's services after they trade down from the fifth selection and acquire more picks in either the second or third round.

"This team won't stay how it is at running back," said a source close to the Cowboys late last week. "Hambrick may end up being 'the guy' but it won't come without some serious competition. Parcells wants him to be challenged, and he will be."

Musa Smith, McGahee, and Larry Johnson are just some of the names being thrown around Valley Ranch, with McGahee and Smith becoming two of the favorites.

"There's no doubt that McGahee is a gifted runner but he's still a major risk anyway you cut it," added Pauline. "He's working through a long rehabilitation process and he may suffer the consequences if he rushes back too early."

While that may be true, having Hambrick and possibly one more free agent running back ahead of him next season could be the perfect situation for McGahee.

That gives him a year to be slowly groomed, and it also gives him a year to get full strength back in his knee.

"They are looking at him, as well as several other running backs right now. They know about his potential. The key will be how much confidence Parcells has in Hambrick. If he thinks he can get by with him for one year, they would be more inclined to pull the trigger on McGahee, should he be available," added the source.

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