Mailbag: Should the Cowboys draft a running back?

February, 10, 2013
2/10/13
11:00
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Q: How are you doing Calvin? It seems Felix (Jones) will be out of the picture for the Cowboys next season. Do you think the Cowboys will draft Oregon running back Kenjon Barner to help the running game or DeAnthony Thomas? I think either one can be a big help and a change of pace for DeMarco Murray. You thoughts on that? Thanks for all the work you do. Trevelin (Rockville, Md.)

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A: Yes, it seems Felix Jones’ time with the Dallas Cowboys is over. His health and his mediocre play the last two years are just too much to overcome. In terms of drafting Barner, he’s the fifth-best running back in Mel Kiper’s position rankings. I assume, based on Kiper’s rankings, Barner will be gone by the second round. Dallas has six draft picks, and unless they make a deal to add to the ledger, you can’t waste a draft pick on Barner. While he’s good, the Cowboys need to go elsewhere with their selections instead of running back. Lance Dunbar and Phillip Tanner most likely will backup DeMarco Murray in 2013.

Q: Who's more likely to be on the Cowboys' roster opening weekend: Anthony Spencer or Miles Austin? Ben (Santa Cruz, Calif.)

A: Interesting question. I would say Austin will be with the Cowboys in 2013 and Spencer will play for somebody else, maybe Rob Ryan in New Orleans? If the Cowboys franchise Spencer he’ll be worth $10.8 million. A long-term deal for Spencer could cost a franchise an average of $8 million to $10 million per season. Is Spencer worth that to the Cowboys? As far as Austin is concerned, he is still a valuable weapon to the Cowboys’ offense and just missed reaching 1,000 receiving yards. While it’s positive that Dez Bryant played so well in 2012, the Cowboys need Austin’s skill set.

Q: Will Bill Callahan retain the offensive line coaching position even when/if he becomes the genuine offensive coordinator with call playing authority? Maurice O’Mary (Sanger, Texas)

A: I believe Callahan can do both jobs. Now remember, Jason Garrett is still around and he’ll have a major influence with the game plan. I expect the Cowboys to make this move at some point and when they do, expect Garrett to hire an assistant offensive line coach to help Callahan. There has been too much speculation regarding Garrett and Callahan for this not to happen. Jerry Jones has said the decision is Garrett's to make. But it's hard to accept that given how the head coach said he expected the status quo to continue regarding the playcalling duties at the end of the season. Now we have an expected change.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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