Barber an Insurance Policy at RB?

Dallas bolsters it backfield with addition of Minnesota's Marion Barber III, but how does he compare with starter Julius Jones? <BR>

After spending three picks Saturday shoring up the defense, the Cowboys opened up Sunday's portion of the draft by plucking running back Marion Barber III (5-11.5, 221, 4.46).

Dallas pulled off a coup last year, trading down to take Julius Jones, who emerged late last year as a very promising ball carrier. But after getting little from the rest of its backs, Dallas was one injury (to Jones) away from going back to the pass-heavy offense employed when Jones sat out part of the season with a broken shoulder blade.

Barber should be OK with the role (at least at first) as Jones' caddy.

Considered one of the top tailbacks in the country last year (Barber was a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award, given annually to the nation's premier ball carrier), Barber teamed with Laurence Marone at Minnesota to form on of the nation's top running back tandems.

Barber is a powerful back who also has excellent vision and cutback ability. He might be a step behind Jones on pure speed, but he's better at waiting for blocks to develop in front of him than Jones was coming out of college a year ago.

He is also much more physical with the ball in his hands than he is as a blocker, but rest assured, Bill Parcells will change that mindset immediately -- running backs who don't block on a Parcells-coached team don't play on a Parcells-coached team.

Barber is built a lot like Cincinnati's Rudi Johnson, and has a similar running style that relies on power and cutbacks more than pure speed (as a senior, Barber put up 1,269 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns on 231 carries.

Barber won't be asked to make as much of an immediate impact as fellow draftees Demarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, who will be expected to start immediately. But in an era in which teams need more than one capable ball carrier, his addition to the Dallas backfield may prove to be one of the team's top picks in the 2005 draft.

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