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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Where does Felix rank among '08 RB crop?

By Tim MacMahon

The running back crop in the 2008 draft will probably go down as one of the greatest in NFL history.

The Cowboys feel good about Felix Jones, who is likely to take over as the lead horse after a season and a half as an electrifying change-of-pace back. But it's tough to argue that he was the best possible pick at No. 22 overall.

The debate at the time was Felix vs. Rashard Mendenhall, who was selected by the Steelers with the next pick. And that's still worthy of an argument after Mendenhall rushed for 1,100 yards last season, when Jones averaged 5.9 yards per carry, 1.3 more than Mendenhall with a workload half as heavy.

But two years and one 2,000-yard season later, there's no question that Tennessee's Chris Johnson is the best of the bunch despite lasting until No. 24 overall.

You could make a strong case that Baltimore's Ray Rice, who lasted until late in the second round, is the second-best back in class. All he did last season was account for more than 2,000 total yards for a passing-challenged playoff team.

Third-rounder Jamaal Charles, the Texas product picked by Kansas City, has to be somewhere in the conversation. He rushed for 1,120 yards despite getting only 190 carries, matching Jones' yards per pop. Carolina's Jonathan Stewart, who has rushed for 20 touchdowns in two seasons as a part-timer, also merits mention, although he was long gone by the time the Cowboys went on the clock.

At least the Cowboys didn't trade into the top five to get Darren McFadden, who has been a dud in Oakland.

If Jones stays healthy, the Cowboys have no reason for regret. But we can still play the what-if game on a slow day in May.