Joseph Randle visited one team during the pre-draft process — the Dallas Cowboys.
And that franchise clearly liked what it saw in the former Oklahoma State running back, as on Saturday Dallas selected Randle in the fifth round (No. 151 overall) of the NFL Draft.
In Dallas, Randle will slide into a role backing up former Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, a player Randle has been compared to because of his taller build and more upright running style. But Murray has struggled with injuries throughout his career — and former complement back Felix Jones is no longer on the roster — so Randle could have a chance to make an immediate impact.
“The NFL is a two-back system now,” Randle told the Dallas Morning News, “so guys need other guys to come in and you don’t want to drop the tempo off much. I think (Murray and I will) work well together.”
Randle will also join former OSU players Dez Bryant and Dan Bailey in Dallas.
Randle is regarded as a durable, versatile and consistent back that can run between the tackles, make defenders miss in the open field and catch the ball out of the backfield.
He left OSU following a junior season where he rushed for 1,417 yards and 14 touchdowns and earned first-team All-Big 12 honors. As a sophomore in 2011, while playing for a Cowboy team that featured superstars Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and won the Big 12, Randle tallied 1,216 rushing yards, 266 receiving yards and 26 total touchdowns.
“We’re happy that Joseph is getting the chance to live his dream by playing in the NFL and we’re excited about what the future holds for him,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said in a release. “He was a very productive player on our team and now he has the opportunity to continue the NFL running back tradition that we have established here at Oklahoma State over a number of years.”
But Randle’s stock somewhat slipped during the pre-draft process.
He does not possess elite speed, running a disappointing 4.63 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine but improving that time to 4.51 seconds at OSU’s pro day in March. Additionally, various scouting reports also expressed concerns about Randle’s tendency to run with his pad level too high. Thumb surgery after OSU’s season also hindered Randle’s training before the combine.
“I will use it as fuel to my fire and work harder and remember this day and that all the other teams that passed up on me,” Randle told the Dallas Morning News of being the 10th running back selected. “When I hit the weight room, I’m definitely going to be hungry and determined to show my worth and my value.”
Randle becomes the third running back drafted during Mike Gundy’s tenure at OSU, joining Vernand Morency in 2005 (third round, Houston Texans) and Kendall Hunter in 2010 (fourth round, San Francisco 49ers).