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Could DeMarco Murray Be Replaced in the 2015 NFL Draft?

If impending free agent DeMarco Murray is allowed to walk, could he be replaced by one of the elite running backs in college football history?

DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after running for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half of their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Mandatory Credit: ESPN/Getty Images)

DeMarco Murray #29 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates after running for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half of their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Mandatory Credit: ESPN/Getty Images)

In a week from today, Dallas Cowboys running back and last year’s rushing title winner DeMarco Murray turns 27-years old. I would say 27-years young, but old is the better of the two adjectives to describe Murray.

In a league where the ideal running backs are becoming more expendable, they are also becoming replaceable. However, Murray believes he isn’t one of the replaceable backs in the league.

“I would like to see how it goes,” Murray said of his team letting him walk and simply plugging another back in. “I know what I bring to the table.”

Murray associated himself with names like Le’Veon Bell and Marshawn Lynch this past year, a trio of backs who carried their teams to their recent success the past two years. With a long list of injuries, Dallas’ work horse has yet to play a season without a mid-to-major injury since being drafted in the third round at No. 71 overall in 2011. Even this past season, Murray suffered a broken bone in his left hand in their Week 15 win over NFC East opponent Philadelphia, which he played through the next three games.

ESPN Insider Todd McShay released his second mock draft after the first revealing Dallas would select corner back Kevin Johnson out of Wake Forest. His Mock Draft 2.0 (as McShay calls it) is leading Cowboys fans to believe that Murray will not be in Dallas next season. Not because he isn’t good, but the shear fact of the business side of the NFL. If Dallas’ front office refuses to pay Murray the pretty penny most rushing title winners would receive, they’ll have to draft a running back in his place.

McShay believes Wisconsin’s running back and Heisman finalist (2nd place with 1,250 points) Melvin Gordon would be the perfect fit for the Cowboys if Murray is no longer on the roster.

“Gordon’s running style is very similar to Murray’s; he runs hard, is a work horse, gets from 0 to 60 in a flash and shows great vision and patience as a runner,” McShay said. “He isn’t great in pass protection or as a receiver, but he’s getting better.”

If there is any running back heading into the draft that could come close to replacing Murray, it would be the two-year starter, Gordon. His college stats alone show his ability to run on the perimeter, but what surprises most is his ability to run between the tackles, much like Murray did last season.

One thing Murray lacks is his ability to break those long runs into touchdowns. Murray’s backup, Joseph Randle, was the change-of-pace back. The guy who had that burst of speed, that extra gear to break long runs into six points, but Randle lacks the power of Murray. When Murray would break for a long run, he would either get caught from behind by the defensive secondary, or he didn’t have another gear to out run the secondary. Gordon, however, has the ability to run over people and turn on the jets when necessary.

The last two seasons, Gordon averaged 7.6 yards per carry, 2,098 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. He also broke the NCAA single-game rushing record against (at the time) 11th-ranked Nebraska with 25 carries for 408 yards. The record was broken a week later from Oklahoma true freshman Samaje Perine’s 427 yards on 34 carries and five touchdowns.

Murray may be getting older, but Gordon is much younger and has the same if not better running style. With Jerry Jones, it’s difficult to tell what he and his staff will do come draft day considering he has only made a selection with their original first-round draft slot twice in the last eight years, [Tyron Smith and Zack Martin].

“The Cowboys have a big decision to make about re-signing DeMarco Murray,” NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah said. “Gordon would be a nice fall back plan.”

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