Is it possible that our greatest need going into the draft is RB? I guess that would depend on who you talk to, but even if it’s not the most glaring need, if we intend on running the ball considerably more than we did last season, we’re going to need an infusion of talent and numbers in our RB stable.
As it stands now, the feature back would be 2nd year RB Jay Ajayi. Ajayi, who played his college ball at Boise St., was considered by many to be a 2nd RD talent. Medical news day of the draft circulated like wildfire and the red flags went up immediately. Apparently, the news was Ajayi had so little cartilage remaining in his knee that he was basically almost bone on bone, at which point it becomes so painful, it’s career ending. Ajayi tore his ACL in 2011, his redshirt season at Boise St. In 2012, Ajay came back slowly from his injury, garnering only 82 carries for 548 yards, 6.7 YPC and 4 TD’s. in 2013, Ajayi figured more prominently, getting 249 carries for 1425 yards, 18 TD’s, along with 22 receptions for 222 yards and 1 TD. Obviously, Ajayi was back and healthy. 2013 cemented that Ajayi was not only back, but he could be a workhorse back. Ajayi carried the ball an astounding 347 times for 1823 yards, and an unbelievable 28 rushing TD’s. He also caught 50 passes for 535 yards and 4 TD’s. OK, so just how much was Ajayi the Boise St. offense??? 2378 total yards, and 32 TD’s! Incredible!
Ajayi performed well at the NFL combine. While not a speedster, he ran 4.57, but as important for a RB, is that quick burst. Ajayi ran 4,10 20 YD shuttle (top performer), a 39 ” vertical (tp), 121 broad jump (tp), and 11.60 60 YD shuttle (tp). OK, so Ajayi is an athlete, a former soccer player with very good feet, and we can see from the drills, lots of explosion.
Who can we draft to be part of an effective rushing attack in 2016? Let’s take a look!
The clear cut best RB available in this draft will most likely not be available to the Dolphins if we stay at #13, but if somehow Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott makes it to our pick at #13, it will give the Dolphins a very difficult choice. Elliott has been compared to former Colts and Cards RB Edgerrin James. Elliott was a great back for Ohio St., a true 3 down RB. Elliott topped 1800 yards in both his sophomore and junior seasons, 1878 and 1821 respectively. Elliott averaged 6.9 YPC his sophomore year and 6.3 YPC in his junior, along with scoring 18 TD’s and 23 TD’s respectively. He’s the real deal, and while he may not be a prospect of Adrien Peterson’s ilk, he is a great prospect, quite worthy of an early first pick. In 592 carries, Zeke has a fumble rate of 162.5, which means he fumbles once per 162.5 carries, very solid. Fumbling is clearly not an issue. Again, odds are, Zeke is gone by pick #13, so although he would be a great addition to our rushing attack, let’s look at some RB’s who have a better chance of being available to us after our 1st pick.
Derrick Henry is the big boy of the group, at 6’2″ 247, Henry is reminiscent of former NY Giants RB Brandon Jacobs. Not quite as big as Jacobs who was 6’4″ 264, he’s certainly big enough. A physical RB who is fast for his size, Henry ran a 4.54 40, along with a 37″ vertical, and 11.50 60 yard shuttle, which shows he’s athletic for his size. One of the negatives with Henry is he tends to run more upright, partly due to his size, and that opens him up for more hits and punishment from defenders, despite the fact that Henry delivers his fair share of punishment too. If we’re looking to really become a run heavy team, or at least closer to a 50/50 ratio of run to pass, we could do worse having a tandem of Ajayi and Henry. We could then pick up a change of pace back later on, one that’s faster and smaller, as we don’t have that type of back at the moment. Henry rushed for 2219 yards on 395 carries last season (junior year) for 5.6 YPC average along with a college football leading 28 TD’s. Henry doesn’t offer much as a receiver, logging only 17 total receptions in 3 years at Alabama. He is, however, a workhorse who finds his way into the endzone, and lord knows, the Dolphins could stand to score more of those.
Keith Marshall is about the same size as former Dolphins RB Lamar Miller. He’s actually a bit faster too, running the 40 at a blazing 4.31, and may be an intriguing choice for the Dolphins later in the draft. Marshall chose to play all 4 years at Georgia. In his sophomore year, Marshall suffered a torn right ACL. Due to that injury, Marshall has a very small body of work, only 253 total carries, 117 of which were in his freshman year. Marshall appears to be very healthy, and could be a steal in mid to later RD’s. Marshall also has good ball security, so he has low mileage, speed and agility, and holds on to the football. He could be that change of pace type back for us initially.
Kenyan Drake is Derrick Henry’s RB mate at Alabama. Drake was the change of pace for the workhorse Henry. Drake had a total of 233 carries in 4 years at Alabama for 1495 yards, for a nice 6.4 YPC. Drake finished with a total of 18 TD rushing TD’s in his college career, but understandably a low figure, considering he took the backseat to Henry who scored 28 TD’s in his senior year. He’s a potential mid to late RD pick for Miami.
There are quite a few other prospects that the Dolphins will be looking at, especially if we don’t pick up a solid veteran RB to compliment what we already have. Last week we picked up two former 2nd RD picks, Isaiah Pead from the Rams and former Dolphins 2nd RD pick, yes, the infamous “DT 3”, Daniel Thomas, who rejoins the team. Can either of those 2 recapture what made them 2nd RD prospects in the first place? Not likely, but I think there is a chance Daniel Thomas can stick on the roster, because one thing Thomas excels at is pass protection as a RB.
Piggy/Wedge have already gone into depth with many of the RB’s, and will likely continue to do so, so I won’t tread on “their” territory, and leave that to them. If there are RB’s that you think we should be interested, bring them up on the blog and we’ll discuss them!