Posted on Fri, Apr. 23, 2004 Looking for 22 at 22 Could Dallas find another Emmitt in the first round? By Jennifer Floyd Engel Star-Telegram Staff Writer IRVING - Cowboys fans have loved three running backs in their lifetimes. They lost two a long time ago, and they lost one to the Arizona Cardinals. They need another. Which is why Bill Parcells and Jerry Jones need to play matchmaker and find another back worthy of 20-plus carries per game in a 2004 NFL Draft that might have more Mr. Right Nows than Mr. Rights. "I don't think it is a very deep draft for running backs," Texans general manager Charley Casserly said. "There's clearly two that separate themselves from everyone else: Kevin Jones and Steven Jackson. All of us feel they are first-round backs. After that, there's another group that's bunched together." Not everybody appears all that sold on Jones and Jackson, either. The New England Patriots needed a running back. They have the 21st pick in this weekend's draft - one slot ahead of the Cowboys -- as well as another first-round selection. They are famous for building through the draft. And they were so impressed by the available backs they traded for the perpetually pouty Corey Dillon, who has only slightly less baggage than Paris Hilton on a two-month cruise. Which is to say they were not too impressed. Which explains why every running back except Jackson seems to be falling faster than Randy Moss in 1998. "For Kevin, a borderline first[-round pick] is how I would view him now," ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said, adding "just a little" when pressed as to whether the Virginia Tech back's stock was slipping. "For running backs, there are only five or six teams that need running backs. That's why running backs historically always slip." Trolling for running backs along with the Cowboys might be the Detroit Lions at No. 6, the Denver Broncos at No. 17, the Patriots at No. 21 and the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 28. Considering Jerry Jones did everything Monday but guarantee the Cowboys would not trade up in the draft, somebody is likely going to take Jackson before the Cowboys pick. The next best option is Kevin Jones, who could be there when the Cowboys select at No. 22. A lot will depend on what the Lions do. If they stay at No. 6 and take tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. or safety Sean Taylor -- both from Miami -- Kevin Jones could drop to the Cowboys. But if the Lions trade down to get Jackson, there is a chance Jones could go to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 15 or the Broncos at 17. The question facing the Cowboys is this: Is Jones "The Guy" or what Parcells would call a "J.A.G" -- "just another guy." "Do they want Kevin Jones? Is he a Parcells kind of back?" Kiper said. "I'm not positive about that because he's not a consistent tackle-breaker and he's not necessarily as well-rounded catching the football and blocking." The Cowboys have blocking and catching in fullback Richie Anderson. What they are lacking is elusive speed, quickness to and through the hole and game-changing ability. But, if Jerry Jones and Co. determine Kevin Jones is not their guy, don't expect the Cowboys to get a running back in the first round. Everybody else would be a reach. And while Jones was not exaggerating when he said "we need a running back" at the NFL scouting combine in February, you do not take a second-round talent in the first round, no matter how big the need. "I think they have some options with that pick, or they could wait a little bit," Kiper said. "You can be patient at running back and you may find somebody fall in your lap at pick 52, which is in the second round, and you may get lucky and see somebody also be there at 83, which is the third round." Six running backs went in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Four look to be the real deal, or at least good bargains. Domanick Davis rushed for 1,031 yards in his rookie season with the Texans. Onterrio Smith averaged 5.4 yards per carry in limited duty. Lee Suggs is expected to compete for the starting job in Cleveland. And former Oklahoma standout Quentin Griffin so impressed Broncos coach Mike Shanahan that Shanahan felt comfortable trading Clinton Portis. Of course, the Broncos might not be ready to stand pat. They did trade up to No. 17 and reportedly want a back. The Broncos certainly have developed a reputation for being able to find running backs everywhere in the draft when others have come up empty. They selected Portis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary and Terrell Davis. Shanahan says he has his eye on a couple of backs with potential in this draft as well. "You only need one," Shanahan said at the NFL owners' meetings, when asked if this draft was light on quality backs. All you need is one, if he is the right one, if he is a Hill or a Dorsett or an Emmitt. Yes, Cowboys fans have loved three running backs in their lifetimes. Calvin Hill had an uncompromising toughness that won him a multitude of admirers. With Tony Dorsett, his game-changing speed converted mere Cowboys fans into Dorsett devotees. And Dallas' love affair with Emmitt Smith can only be described as enduring as his Cowboys career. What Parcells and Jones are trying to do is find a back capable of making fans fall in love all over again. Collins signs Offensive tackle Javiar Collins signed a one-year contract worth $628,000. 2004 NFL DRAFT | 11 A.M. SATURDAY | ESPN | COWBOYS PICK 22ND Kevin Jones 6-0, 227 Virginia Tech Some people say he's the best back in the draft; could be a steal at No. 22. Chris Perry 6-0, 224 Michigan He could make some general manager look like a genius. Or an idiot. Julius Jones 5-9, 217 Notre Dame His stock has been rising, and some are predicting him to be a difference-maker. Michael Turner 5-10, 237 N. Illinois The Cowboys were one of the teams high on him at the NFL scouting combine. Tatum Bell 5-11, 212 Oklahoma State He has been described as a Bill Parcells-kind of player; only question is his fumbling.