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Dillon trade could benefit Dallas

By Darrell Trimble

NFL Insider


When it first became apparent that Corey Dillon was going to be shipped out of Cincinnati rumors immediately began to emerge that he would wind up in Dallas. Dillon was a productive runner and the Cowboys had a gaping hole in the backfield.

But it was New England that stepped up to the plate and picked up the Bengals' all-time leading rusher. It's true that by not making a deal for Dillon the Cowboys failed to fill a need with a proven player but, if things shake out, they could be sitting pretty on draft day.

Now that the Patriots, who have the 21st pick in the opening round, have satisfied their need for a feature back, the Cowboys could have a shot to draft Steven Jackson out of Oregon State. Jackson is widely considered the top tailback available and was not expected to get past New England's pick. Since the Cowboys will be on the clock immediately following the Pats, Jackson could wind up in Dallas.

Jackson is in demand for many reasons. He has size (6'2", 231) and decent speed (4.5 seconds in the 40). Those measurables helped him rush for 3,360 yards, catch 61 passes and score 39 touchdowns in his last two college campaigns. But the fact that he posted those numbers while playing in pro style offenses under both Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley is equally important.

And it's why the Cowboys won't be alone in their desire to draft Jackson. The Detroit Lions also have a serious need for a running back, but they have the sixth overall selection. Jackson isn't that high on anybody's draft board so the Lions will likely look in a different direction. Detroit might attempt to trade down between picks 7-15 to acquire an extra pick or picks and draft Jackson.

The Denver Broncos could also be in the market for a tailback even though they just signed Garrison Hearst. His age, 33, and injury history make him nothing more than a stop gap solution. The Broncos traded up to the 17th pick but, with their linebacking corps in disarray, they might very well opt for Auburn's Karlos Dansby, Miami's D.J. Williams, or one of the other top linebackers.

That leaves the Cowboys to upgrade a glaring weakness on their team. That's not to say that Jackson would be as productive as Dillon, but the attitude problems that Dillon brings to the table and the hard-line of coach Bill Parcells could have been a volatile mix. Now the Cowboys stand a chance of getting a bright, young talent -- who is a team player. Now all they need is the 21 teams in front of them to cooperate.

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