Cowboys Exec Sounds off on Star RB Who Could Play ‘Right Away’

The opening of NFL free agency saw a scramble of movement for the league’s running backs, a much-needed bounce-back for the ball carriers after years of market decline at the position. But the Cowboys were among the few teams that opted not to participate, even as their top back from the past two seasons, Tony Pollard, bolted for the Titans.

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones (left) and his father, owner Jerry Jones.

The Cowboys’ lead back currently is Rico Dowdle, a fourth-year player with 96 carries and 385 yards rushing on his career ledger.

With no apparent additions coming on the free-agent market, the Cowboys appear dead-set on addressing the spot in the upcoming NFL draft. It’s become so obvious that even team vice president Stephen Jones is openly talking about one of the top running backs on the draft board, Texas star Jonathon Brooks.

“From a periphery basis from afar, going to the combine and things like that, I think he can be a player that can start first day of training camp. Not start, but participate right away,” Jones said.

Cowboys Doctor Performed Surgery

The Cowboys have a link to Brooks right from the get-go. Not only did he suit up for Texas, but when he suffered an ACL tear in November against TCU, it was the Cowboys’ surgeon, Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the repair on Brooks. It’s unusual for a team official to discuss an individual player in detail, but Jones did so anyway with Brooks.

​​”It always helps when one of the doctors you’re very familiar with does the surgery,” Jones said on Monday, per the Cowboys team website. “That’ll be very helpful. Obviously, he’s a guy we follow right in our backyard in Texas. He’s got a lot of skill sets. If it wasn’t for the injury, might would’ve ultimately been rated the best back in the draft. Any time that a back is coming off an injury, you have to take those things into account.”

Jones did not want to get too far ahead of himself, though, especially for a player coming off a significant injury. The Cowboys have had a dodgy recent history investing in players coming back from ACL tears—Michael Gallup and Terence Steele come to mind.

“Our understanding is that he has a great chance to be ready to not miss anything, start training camp and go to work,” Jones said. “We’ll see. I don’t want to preempt anything. I haven’t seen the medical report.”

Jonathon Brooks ‘Has an Explosive First Step’

Brooks had to wait two years behind Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson to get his chance to be a starter, and put together 1,179 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games last season before the injury.

While no running backs are expected to go in the first round, it is likely that there will be a run on backs in Round 2 of this year’s draft, and the Cowboys have set themselves up as a team that will need to ensure they get one. On Bleacher Report’s mock draft, the Cowboys select Brooks with the No. 56 overall pick.

In its evaluation of Brooks as a draft prospect, Pro Football Focus wrote that the wait for Brooks appeared to be worth it, as he looked like a future NFL star as just a redshirt sophomore:

“While his footwork isn’t quite Robinson’s level, he can cut/change direction/avoid tacklers very quickly and has an explosive first step. He isn’t a nuanced route runner, but he has good hands and showcased his ability to force missed tackles as a receiver. The only glaring negative on his scouting report is a torn ACL in 2023 that ended his lone season as a starter.”


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