3.5 yards per carry.
That's how many yards Troy Hambrick averaged every time he touched the ball last season for the Dallas Cowboys.
Not too impressive is it?
Certainly not, and that's just one of 100 reasons the Cowboys will be looking to improve their talent in the back field in this Saturday's NFL Draft.
Over the course of the last few weeks, speculation has been rampant. From the offensive line, to the secondary, the rumors insisting the Cowboys will go with another position other than running back have fueled sports talk radio and Internet message boards like no other time of year.
Of course, most of that speculation has been incorrect.
Sure, the Cowboys need help up front with the loss of Ryan Young and the drama surrounding Larry Allen (who could still be traded by the way), but is it really worth a first round pick?
However, no other need on the team sticks out quite like the lack of a true running back with breakaway speed. And in the ever improving NFC East, the Cowboys have to find a way to improve their running game.
Enter Kevin Jones and Julius Jones, two of the more prominent names that will likely be available when the Cowboys go on the clock on Saturday.
Kevin, a speedster out of Virginia Tech, fits the bill like no other back in the draft, with the exception of Oregon State's Steven Jackson, (who will likely be long gone when the Cowboys go the clock with the 22nd overall selection).
He's fast, he's ellusive, he's a man of high character, and most importantly he fits into the Cowboys current offensive system.
"He is a great combination of innate abilities, football skills, and physical stature. His athleticism leads one to believe he can be used in a variety of offensive systems that rely on running the ball," notes draft expert Tony Pauline.
Then take look at Julius, another strong candidate out of Notre Dame.
Julius Jones is a running back that is well respected by the Cowboys' organization. He's a player that was extensively scouted at the NFL Combine, and a player that has seen his stock steadily rise in the eyes of many teams around the league.
While there could be potential character issues involved here, most of the problems that plagued the 1,200 yard rusher in the past, appear to be long gone. (He was suspended the entire 2002 season due to poor grades.)
He put that behind him during his senior year however, rushing 229 times for 1268 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year.
At a legitimate 5-10, Julius Jones is a bit undersized to play in the rugged NFC East in the eyes of some experts. Undersized, that is until to discover that he possesses 4.3 speed.
Kevin Jones is about an inch and a half taller, and has similar breakaway speed, which is one of the reasons most scouts agree that he'll go in the first round and Julius goes in the second.
For the Cowboys however, it's no secret that the organization covets both of these talented backs.
What this boils down to is this: who could the Cowboys possibly draft in the first round that would better their team more than Kevin Jones, assuming that Julius Jones will still be avaiable in the second?
It would have to be a player on the offensive line. Namely, a guy like Arkansas' Shawn Andrews or Miami's Vernon Carey.
If either one of these two players are available, the Cowboys could go with the option of selecting a running back in the second round- and of course, that's probably Julius Jones.
And Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones are ready for that very possibility. Parcells, who has escaped the scrutiny and questioning of the media since the playoff loss in Carolina, has been preparing for Saturday ever since his team was unpleasantly ousted by the eventual champions of the NFC.
"We will look at every option possible to improve this team," said Parcells. "We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to that."
Certainly, Parcells' enthusiasm is unparalleled, and rightfully so.
All it takes is one player to get this team into the next round of the playoffs, the NFC Championship game, or even the Super Bowl.
On Saturday, the Cowboys will be looking for that one player, and you can go ahead and count on that player being a running back.
Jones or Jones?
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