There is no secret that the Dallas Cowboys plan to take a running back in the first or second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
It’s one reason they brought in a collection of the best draft-eligible backs for visits early in the week, including Georgia’s Todd Gurley, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Indiana’s Tevin Coleman and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon.
The Cowboys continued their due diligence regarding a deep running back class by bringing in Boise State’s Jay Ajayi for a closeup on Friday as part of the annual Dallas Day workouts.
More than 80 players who either played in high school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area or at one of the local colleges, including North Texas, TCU and SMU, were invited for workouts at the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters.
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For many draft long shots such as Missouri receiver Darius White (Fort Worth Dunbar) and Henderson State wide receiver Darius Davis (Frisco Wakeland), it was a dream come true and a chance to show their skills in hopes of earning free-agent contract with the Cowboys.
“My family is full of big-time Cowboys fans,” Davis said. “To be able to get that opportunity was incredible. I think things went well.”
White, who started his college career at Texas before transferring to Missouri, believes he helped himself during a day that began for him at 7 a.m. and ended around noon.
“I felt it went very well,” White said. “It felt good being out there, especially in front of the hometown team. That was a great feeling. The Cowboys have always been a dream.”
While the dream of playing for the Cowboys was the same for Ajayi (Frisco Liberty), the stakes were quite different. Unlike many of the other prospects, who likely will be late-round picks or undrafted free agents, Ajayi could go as high as the second round and is considered a serious option for the Cowboys in their quest to replace 2014 NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray.
So not only did Ajayi work out for the team on Friday, he also went to dinner with running backs coach Gary Brown on Thursday night.
“They wouldn’t be taking me to dinner if they weren’t interested,” Ajayi said.
By all accounts, Ajayi had a great workout.
An agent who was there with another player said “No. 47” stood out.
That’s the same feedback Ajayi got.
“They said I had a great workout,” Ajayi said. “I talked to coach [Jason] Garrett and Stephen Jones and the running backs coach afterward.”
It would be a dream come true for Ajayi to be drafted by the Cowboys and get a chance to run behind the team’s massive offensive line.
But he knows it’s out of his control.
“I can’t wait until the draft gets here. I’m ready to see where I’m going to play and continue my career,” Ajayi said.
Ajayi plans to have the same attitude heading into the draft he did coming out of high school, when he was overlooked. Texas running back Malcolm Brown, who is considered a late-round option at best, was the headliner in the state when Ajayi was a senior. Four years later, no back from Texas entering the NFL Draft is ranked higher than Ajayi.
“It helped me build that chip on my shoulder to prove my doubters wrong. That really motivated me,” Ajayi said.
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760