News: DMN: Many first-round backs fade into history

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  1. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Many first-round backs fade into history

    Cowboys say the past made them pass on top rushers in draft

    01:16 AM CDT on Tuesday, April 27, 2004

    By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

    IRVING – Before Julius Jones steps on the practice field this weekend for the Cowboys' rookie minicamp, he should know that he will be forever compared to Steven Jackson, Kevin Jones and Chris Perry.

    The Cowboys passed on the chance to take one of those running backs with the 22nd overall selection Saturday and selected Julius Jones in the second round after receiving Buffalo's 2005 first-round pick in a trade.

    While coach Bill Parcells admitted it was a difficult decision to move out of Round 1 Saturday, he used history as a barometer.

    "I know that in my experience that the running back position, particularly the early picks, has been the one position with the highest degree of failure," Parcells said.

    So before the Cowboys are criticized for not taking Jackson, who went to St. Louis with the 24th pick, or Perry, who went to Cincinnati at No. 26, or Kevin Jones, who went to Detroit with the 30th pick, take a look at the history.

    From 1994-2003, 31 running backs were taken in the first round, but only 10 have been named to the Pro Bowl. Sixteen of those running backs gained 1,000 yards, but four only did it one time.

    The first-round failures include Thomas Jones, Julius' older brother who went No. 7 to Arizona in 2000 before finding some success last year in Tampa Bay. Two other running backs from that draft have yet to do much in Ron Dayne (No. 11, New York Giants) and Trung Canidate, (No. 31, St. Louis). In 1998, Chicago missed on Curtis Enis at No. 5 and Miami blew it with John Avery at No. 29. In 1996, the sixth (Lawrence Phillips to St. Louis) and eighth (Tim Biakabutuka to Carolina) picks were flops.

    Ki-Jana Carter was the last running back to be taken No. 1 overall when the Bengals took him in 1995, but he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his first preseason game. The Bears also missed on Rashaan Salaam (No. 21) that year.

    It's not that second-round selections have been much better – Arizona missed in 1994 (Chuck Levy) and 1996 (Leeland McElroy) – but three second-round picks have made the Pro Bowl in the last seven seasons – Cincinnati's Corey Dillon (now with New England), Buffalo's Travis Henry and Denver's Clinton Portis (now with Washington).

    "I looked a lot on this kid," Parcells said of Jones. "I think he's pretty quick. Elusive. Sees it well. He's a high-character player; that's important to me. ... Football has been in his family with his brother to look at in front of him. I think he's a pretty well-rounded back."

    In developing Hall of Fame credentials, Parcells has needed few first-round running backs to be successful. Rodney Hampton was the Giants' top pick in 1990.

    The Giants picked running backs Butch Woolfolk and Joe Morris with their first two picks in 1982, when Parcells was an assistant, but it was Morris who led the way to Super Bowl XXI. With New England in 1995, Parcells took Curtis Martin in the third round and later gave up first- and third-round picks to New England to bring Martin to the Jets.

    "Now it doesn't matter if he was picked in the first round or picked in the second," Parcells said. "We got him, and we'll do the best we can with him."

    Jones figured the Cowboys were going to pick him once they traded down, and he knows critics will be watching to see how he performs against the first-round backs.

    "It doesn't add much pressure on me," Jones said. "Obviously they wanted to get me, and I wanted to be there. Now I got there like I've got something to prove. I've got a lot to prove to a lot of people."

    Briefly ...

    The Cowboys reached agreement Monday with college free-agent wide receivers James Newson of Oregon State and Brandon Middleton of Houston and Arkansas-Monticello guard Darrick Sanders. The team expects to sign between 12 to 15 free agents, including UT defensive end Kalen Thornton, a St. Mark's graduate and the son of former Cowboys defensive lineman Bruce Thornton.

    E-mail tarcher@**************


    A look at running backs selected in the first round of the NFL draft since 1994, with the best back taken in each draft. Of the 31 first-round running backs, 10 have made the Pro Bowl.

    2003 FIRST ROUND

    • Willis McGahee, Buffalo (23rd pick): Did not play last season because of knee injury.

    • Larry Johnson, Kansas City (27): Future seems limited with Priest Holmes around.

    THE BEST: Domanick Davis, Houston (101): Fourth-rounder ran for 1,031 yards.

    OF NOTE: Lee Suggs (115th overall) could be Cleveland's top runner in '04.

    2002 FIRST ROUND

    • William Green, Cleveland (16): Off-field issues have curbed his development.

    • T.J. Duckett, Atlanta (18): Has yet to run for 1,000 yards.

    THE BEST: Clinton Portis, Denver (51): A Pro Bowler last year, now calls Washington home.

    OF NOTE: Carolina's DeShaun Foster (34) is healthy and could be Panthers' top option.

    2001 FIRST ROUND

    • LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego (5): Most complete back in the game today.

    • Deuce McAllister, New Orleans (23): Has been productive as runner and receiver.

    • Michael Bennett, Minnesota (27): Injuries have slowed him some but effective.

    THE BEST: LaDainian Tomlinson: Having QB Philip Rivers should help him.

    OF NOTE: Buffalo (Travis Henry, second round) San Francisco (Kevan Barlow, third round), Cincinnati (Rudi Johnson, fourth round) and Philadelphia (Correll Buckhalter, fourth round) all found starters.

    2000 FIRST ROUND

    • Jamal Lewis, Baltimore (5): Threatened Eric Dickerson's single-season mark in '03.

    • Thomas Jones, Arizona (7): A bust with the Cardinals, now in Chicago.

    • Ron Dayne, NY Giants (11): Former Heisman Trophy winner has not made mark.

    • Shaun Alexander, Seattle (19): Made Ricky Watters expendable, touchdown machine.

    • Trung Canidate, St. Louis (31): Couldn't cut it with Rams, now with Washington.

    THE BEST: Jamal Lewis: Although a case can be made for Alexander.

    OF NOTE: Denver's Mike Anderson (sixth round, 189th overall) was the offensive rookie of the year with 1,487 yards.

    1999 FIRST ROUND

    • Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (4): Surprising pick at the time, but has been excellent.

    • Ricky Williams, New Orleans (5): Trade to Miami has made a major difference.

    THE BEST: Edgerrin James: A knee injury has taken away some explosion, but still a top-flight back.

    OF NOTE: Second-round picks J.J. Johnson (Miami), Mike Cloud (Kansas City) and Joe Montgomery (Giants) did not answer team's questions.

    1998 FIRST ROUND

    • Curtis Enis, Chicago (5): A bust of the highest order

    • Fred Taylor, Jacksonville (9): Dynamic when he has been healthy.

    • Robert Edwards, New England (18): Gruesome knee injury did him in.

    • John Avery, Miami (29): Stayed up all hours playing video games.

    THE BEST: Ahman Green, Seattle (76): Has become Packers' focal point over Brett Favre the last few years.

    OF NOTE: St. Louis' Robert Holcombe was the only second-round pick that year at No. 37.

    1997 FIRST ROUND

    • Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay (12): Too small to be an every-down back but gets it done.

    • Antowain Smith, Buffalo (23): Looking for work, but two Super Bowls in New England.

    THE BEST: Corey Dillon, Cincinnati (43): Six straight 1,000-yard seasons before '03, now with Patriots.

    OF NOTE: The second round also produced tailbacks Tiki Barber (Giants) and Byron Hanspard (Atlanta).

    1996 FIRST ROUND

    • Lawrence Phillips, St. Louis (6): Made more news off the field than on.

    • Tim Biakabutuka, Carolina (8): Never gained more than 718 yards.

    • Eddie George, Houston (14): Heisman winner has 1,000 yards in eight of nine years.

    THE BEST: Eddie George: Tough runner and tough-minded.

    OF NOTE: Washington took Stephen Davis in the fourth round (102nd overall), but Arizona missed badly on Leeland McElroy in the second round.

    1995 FIRST ROUND

    • Ki-Jana Carter, Cincinnati (1): Tore his ACL in first preseason game.

    • Tyrone Wheatley, NY Giants (17): Solid player but nothing special.

    • Napoleon Kaufman, Oakland (18): Led Raiders in rushing from 1996-98.

    • James Stewart, Jacksonville (19): Cashed in as a free agent with Detroit.

    • Rashaan Salaam, Chicago (21): Off-field issues took him out of the game.

    THE BEST: Curtis Martin, New England (74): Bill Parcells' favorite player has run for 1,000 yards or more every year of his career.

    OF NOTE: Denver took Terrell Davis in the sixth round (No. 196) and then went on to win two Super Bowls with John Elway.

    1994 FIRST ROUND

    • Marshall Faulk, Indianapolis (2): An all-around back who became better in St. Louis.

    • Greg Hill, Kansas City (25): He could never beat out Marcus Allen.

    • William Floyd, San Francisco (28): Nicknamed "Bar None," solid blocker.

    THE BEST: Marshall Faulk: Has only a few years left, but is a threat every time he touches the ball.

    OF NOTE: The Falcons ran to a Super Bowl behind Jamal


    Which Cowboy rookie will have the most impact this season?

    Answer Total
    (640 votes) Percent
    Patrick Crayton 8 1.25%
    Drew Henson 44 6.88%
    Julius Jones 458 71.56%
    Nathan Jones 4 0.62%
    Stephen Peterman 22 3.44%
    Jacques Reeves 3 0.47%
    Jacob Rogers 84 13.12%
    Sean Ryan 4 0.62%
    Bruce Thornton 13 2.03%

    ©2004 Belo Interactive
  2. Jarv

    Jarv Loud pipes saves lives. Zone Supporter

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    I like JJones. If he didn't miss his Jr. year he might have been a 1st rounder...Now we only have to pay 2nd round money for him too...Which is excellent also.

    In our history, Tony D. and Emmitt were 1st rounders that worked out.

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