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Why Lance Dunbar is a Better No. 2 Option than Joseph Randle

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At DallasCowboys.com, I argued for Lance Dunbar as the Cowboys’ No. 2 running back.

Dunbar to the Rescue?

Let’s start with the biggest concern: Dunbar weighs just 191 pounds. That’s far from ideal, but it’s less concerning than Randle’s weight of 198 pounds. The reason is that Dunbar is just 5-8, actually a positive, while Randle is 6-0. There seems to be a positive correlation between not just weight and running backs success, but body mass index. Historically, the best backs have been stocky, i.e. short and thick. It’s really one of the only positions at which shorter can be better.

Based on their heights, Dunbar trumps Randle in BMI: 29.0 to 26.9. If you look at the top 50 running backs in career rushing yards, only three had a BMI as low as Randle’s: Tony Dorsett (ever hear of him?), Warrick Dunn and James Brooks. They were all faster than Randle.

Meanwhile, Dunbar checked in at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash as a rookie. That’s still not elite given his small stature, but it’s better than Randle. Using a metric called Speed Score, we can look at 40 times as a function of weight. A 4.60 40-yard dash from a 230-pound back – the numbers we saw from rookie Le’Veon Bell this year – is more acceptable than the same time for a 195-pounder. Below, I charted the Speed Scores for Dunbar, Randle, Murray and a few other notable running backs.

Running Back

Weight 40 Time Speed Score
Lance Dunbar 191 4.47 95.7
Joseph Randle (Combine) 198 4.63 86.2
Joseph Randle (Pro Day) 198 4.51 95.7
DeMarco Murray 213 4.41 112.6
Jamaal Charles 200 4.38 108.7
Adrian Peterson 217 4.4 115.8
Doug Martin 215 4.55 100.3
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