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Running the Numbers: 4 Reasons DeMarco Murray Will Break Out in 2013

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At DallasCowboys.com, I explored DeMarco Murray’s potential in 2013:

1. Murray might not even be “injury prone.”

A lot of what we view as “injury proneness” is just an illusion. Injuries are a low-frequency event and, for the most part, very random. That means we’d expect the distribution of injuries to be rather random as well, regardless of whether or not some players are more susceptible to injuries than others.

Nonetheless, we’d still expect a few players to be more susceptible to injuries than others. It makes sense that some people’s genetic makeup is such that they’re unlikely to get injured and/or likely to heal quickly after getting injured. But that doesn’t mean we can predict future injuries with any sort of accuracy.

Even if injury proneness does indeed exist, it would take quite a long time to discover whether or not a player is truly more susceptible to injuries than average. Imagine that the typical player has a 10 percent chance to get injured in a given season and an injury-prone player has a 20 percent chance to get hurt. Even if that’s the case, we’d still need a pretty substantial number of seasons to pass before we could claim with any sort of certainty whether or not a player’s injuries were because he’s injury-prone or if he just got unlucky.

Predicting injuries is kind of like projecting fumble recoveries. The events are rare, and thus susceptible to randomness. And while important, using past fumble recoveries (or injuries) to predict future ones is basically useless. That means Murray might be injury prone, or he might not, but the nine games he’s missed in two seasons really can’t help us make that determination.

2. He has game-breaking speed.

I’ve talked quite a bit about how the most predictive trait for NFL running backs is speed. There will always be Emmitt Smith and Alfred Morris outliers, but on a pretty consistent basis, the best backs are the fastest ones. At 213 pounds, Murray turned in a blazing 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He also had a 4.18 short shuttle and 10-4 broad jump, suggesting he’s truly an explosive athlete. We saw that on Murray’s 91-yard touchdown run against the Rams as a rookie. He possesses outstanding and borderline elite speed, especially for someone his size, and that’s important.

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