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Super article on McFadden: Pro's and Con's


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NFL prospect McFadden optimistic about draft chances

03:33 AM CST on Monday, February 25, 2008

McKINNEY Darren McFadden doesn't care what you think. He certainly doesn't care what I think.

McFadden believes he's the best running back available in the draft and should be among the first players selected and it's really hard to argue with him after he ran a 4.27-second(4.33) 40-yard dash Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine.

But several weeks ago, I wrote a column saying how no running back was worth the top pick in the draft. Since he was training at the Michael Johnson Performance Center, I felt compelled to give him my theory on running backs.

McFadden is a phenomenal player. I told him that. With all due respect to Illinois' Rashard Mendenhall and Oregon's Jonathan Stewart, McFadden is, without doubt, the best running back in the draft. I told him that, too.

We all know McFadden finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting each of the last two seasons. We all know he won the Doak Walker award, given annually to the nation's top running back, each of the last two seasons.

And we all know the 4,590 yards rushing and 41 touchdowns he scored in his career at Arkansas.

See, it's not personal. It really has nothing to do with McFadden.

It has everything to do with running backs.

I realize there are exceptions to every rule, but who would wager $30 million or $40 million on an exception? Not me. Would you? Not with your own money.

The financial risk is too high to take any running back with the first pick of the draft. Their lifespan, about four seasons, is so short that it seems ludicrous to give McFadden, a man without an NFL track record, the millions he will command for being one of the top players drafted.

It seemed only fair to give McFadden an opportunity to state why NFL teams should feel comfortable giving him enough money to last several lifetimes.

"I have great passion for the game," McFadden said recently. "I love to run the ball, and I can work in any type of offense. I'm going to make a team better, I'm going to perform to the best of my ability and I'm not going to sit out or hold out at the start of training camp."

So you'll be worth the money?

"Yes sir. I'd be a good investment," he said matter-of-factly.

Meeting the soft-spoken, polite young man with the easy smile is almost enough to make me rethink my position on running backs.

Then I remember Ki-Jana Carter and Curtis Enis and Cedric Benson. All were top-five picks, all were busts. Or I think about quality runners like Marion Barber, Willie Parker and Ryan Grant, who were second-day draft picks or free agents.

No longer do teams rely on just one runner. More teams than ever want two runners sharing the load, making it even harder to justify spending the money and taking the risk on a player at the top of the draft.


Former Arkansas running back Darren McFadden ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash Sunday at the NFL Scouting Combine. The topic must be addressed here because we know Jerry Jones would love to figure out a way to add McFadden to the Cowboys' roster, though it would cost a king's ransom to move into the top five to grab McFadden.

You can start with Dallas giving up its two first-round picks (Nos. 22 and 28) and who knows where the price goes from there, which is why it's unlikely McFadden will ever wear a blue star on the side of his helmet unless he becomes a free agent later in his career.

That said, McFadden is more interested in being the first pick of the draft than playing for the Cowboys. While he says he spends almost no time thinking about it, the reality is he'd love to hear his name called first on draft day.

"It would be a great thing," McFadden said. "I've done everything I can do to line it up, but I can't control who drafts me. I've heard so much from so many people that I try not to listen to anything anymore. I'm just going to wait and see what happens."

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