Trade Up for McFadden?

Why wouldn't the Dallas Cowboys trade up for Darren McFadden? As the best running back to come out of the college ranks in the last 10 to 15 years, it's an absolute no-brainer. Or is it?

Make no mistake, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden is the top running back to emerge from the college ranks in the last 15 years.

Once you get your arms around that idea, you'll understand why the Cowboys should do everything in their power to sign him.

That is, almost everything.

With two first round picks in the upcoming draft, there has been much speculation Dallas should consider trading both picks to the Dolphins in order to move into the top spot to select McFadden.

The problem is, those two first round picks (No. 22 and No. 28) likely won't be enough to trade up with new leaders of the Dolphins, including team President Bill Parcells, General Manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sporano.

As it turns out, the Dolphins may want Pro Bowl running back Marion Barber as part of such a trade, ESPN's Chris Mortenson reported Sunday on NFL Countdown.

Sorry "Mort," and sorry Dolphins fans, because that's simply too much.

That's too much to ask of a rookie running back stepping onto a team that is poised to make another run at a Super Bowl. It's too much to give up in terms of draft picks and proven talent.

Darren McFadden would be welcomed addition in Dallas, but the Cowboys would have to give up too much to get him, including Pro Bowl RB Marion Barber.
Sure, the numbers for Darren McFadden speak for themselves.

He's 6-2, 215 pounds. He runs a legitimate 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. He rarely fumbles. He's tough and has avoided injuries despite being the workhorse for the Razorbacks in each of his three seasons.

In fact, his production at Arkansas from 2005-07 was unparalleled.

As a true freshman he rushed 176 times for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a sophomore, those numbers increased to 284 carries for 1,647 yards and 14 scores.

During his junior year, his production increased yet again, this time to 325 carries for 1,830 yards and 16 touchdowns. The same year he also established a career high in receptions with 21 for 164 yards and a touchdown.

And he did all of that while essentially splitting time with another highly skilled back- Felix Jones.

But the numbers only tell part of the story.

McFadden was Arkansas football. He finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in each of the last two years. He was the kind of playmaker that put the Razorbacks on par with the likes of LSU, Auburn and Tennessee.

He was the kind of running back that was an equalizer. One Darren McFadden could make up the talent gap against a defense that was loaded with five or six All-Americans.

In the NFL? He's the next Eric Dickerson.

However, is he worth two first round draft picks and a Pro Bowl running back on a team that is poised to be one of the best in the league again in 2008?

In a word, "no."

The Cowboys have a proven running back in Marion Barber. He was a Pro Bowl performer this year as a backup to Julius Jones. He's the most physical running back in the league and he gives the Cowboys some much-needed toughness out of the backfield.

While I feel confident in suggesting McFadden brings more to the table long-term than Barber, and believe me, he does, he doesn't have a Pro Bowl year under his belt just yet.

My point here is simple, if the Dolphins want a team's two first round draft picks and its Pro Bowl running back for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, the Cowboys have to pass.

They have to. It's too much to give up and too many other quality backs are available this year to focus entirely on just one.

And knowing how Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland operate, they probably aren't going to draft McFadden anyway. Parcells wants to build the Dolphins around a young and improving defense. The last time I checked, Miami's front seven is anything but young, which means Parcells and company have work to do.

Put it this way, if the Cowboys want to trade up to No. 2 or No. 3 if McFadden somehow starts to slip on draft day, then fine. That's a move that makes more sense if Barber is removed from the equation and the dynamics of the trade start to change. Odds are he won't slip past No. 3 (Atlanta) but you get the picture.

But two first round picks and Marion Barber for Darren McFadden? No thanks.

The Cowboys can do too much as it stands now with two first round picks to help out other areas of need that need to be addressed before next season (cornerback, nose tackle, wide receiver).

So no offense Darren. You'll be a great one. And it wouldn't be a bad thing for you to be a great one in Dallas.

It just has to come at the right price.

And right now the price doesn't sound right.

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