No running backs were selected in the first round in 2013, the first time since 1963 that had happened. It repeated last year, with no running backs selected in the first round. The position is strong this year, with a number of options in the top 100, including elite talent at the top. Two backs — Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon — are projected as mid-first-round picks this year. But they will have company on the second day. An average of seven backs land in the first three rounds, but this year’s class could have double digits in the top 100.
The Cowboys finished with 508 run plays and 506 pass plays. They’ll continue that approach in 2015, even though DeMarco Murray left for Philadelphia in free agency. The Cowboys likely will rely more on a committee approach, with some combination of Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle, Lance Dunbar, Ryan Williams and a rookie, unless they can pull off a trade for Adrian Peterson. The Cowboys have had all the top running backs to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits, including Gurley, Gordon, Ajayi and Coleman.
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Todd Gurley, Georgia, 6-1, 222, NA: Gurley ran for 3,285 yards and 36 touchdowns, and if not for surgery on his left ACL in November, he might go even higher in the first round.
Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin, 6-1, 215, 4.52: He ran for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns last season.
Jay Ajayi, Boise State, 6-0, 221, 4.57: The Frisco Liberty product ran for 3,796 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career with the Broncos.
Tevin Coleman, Indiana, 5-11, 206, 4.4, Coleman, who had tendon surgery on a toe in December, ran for 2,036 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska, 5-9, 205, 4.53, His 4,588 career rushing yards fell only 192 short of Mike Rozier’s school record.
Zach Zenner, South Dakota State, 5-11, 223, 4.60, Only the second player in FCS history to have back-to-back, 2,000-yard seasons.
Top Texas ties
David Cobb, Minnesota, 5-11, 229, 4.81, The Killeen Ellison product, projected as a third-round pick, broke Laurence Maroney’s single-season rushing record with 1,626 yards.
Trey Williams, Texas A&M, 5-7, 195, 4.49: Williams, projected to go in the fifth or sixth round, averaged 6.6 yards in his career but he might make a team because of his ability as a returner.
Malcolm Brown, Texas, 5-11, 224, 4.62: He projects as a late-round pick after leading UT in rushing three of the past four seasons.
B.J. Catalon, TCU, 5-7, 186, 4.57: With 3,034 career all-purpose yards, he could be a late-round pick though his fumbling problems and concussion history work against him.
Jimmay Mundine, Kansas, 6-1, 237, 4.64, The Denison product might be a late-round pick as a fullback.
Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from CBS Sports.com
Thursday-Saturday, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Chicago.
Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday. Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday. Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. Saturday. TV: NFL Network, ESPN/ESPN2
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Tennessee Titans
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Oakland Raiders
5. Washington Redskins
6. New York Jets
7. Chicago Bears
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. New York Giants
10. St. Louis Rams
11. Minnesota Vikings
12. Cleveland Browns
13. New Orleans Saints
14. Miami Dolphins
15. San Francisco 49ers
16. Houston Texans
17. San Diego Chargers
18. Kansas City Chiefs
19. Cleveland Browns
20. Philadelphia Eagles
21. Cincinnati Bengals
22. Pittsburgh Steelers
23. Detroit Lions
24. Arizona Cardinals
25. Carolina Panthers
26. Baltimore Ravens
27. Dallas Cowboys
28. Denver Broncos
29. Indianapolis Colts
30. Green Bay Packers
31. New Orleans Saints
32. New England Patriots