One of the positions the Miami Dolphins need to upgrade this off-season is the running back position. The Dolphins were 22nd in the league in rushing, which was better than the year before, but not much better. The running back position over the past decade has been devalued because the NFL is a passing league, and running backs careers aren’t as long due to wear and tear.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important to run the ball. Points do come in the passing game, but if there is one thing you can do to combat a high scoring passing offense is to run the ball and control the clock to keep the other team’s offense off the field and give your own defense time to rest to stay fresh, especially as the season progresses.
The Dolphins’ leading rusher this year was Myles Gaskin, with 584 yards rushing. Gaskin went from a 2019 7th round pick who looked like a player who wouldn’t make the team into a player whose development made him the work horse back. He beat out free agent Jordan Howard and Matt Breida, who was acquired in a draft-day trade from the San Francisco 49ers. Howard and Breida, for whatever reason, didn’t work out for the Dolphins this year, and their diminished playing time also provided opportunities for undrafted free agent Salvon Ahmed, who made contributions at the end of the season and should be back next year to compete.
Gaskins and Ahmed were good finds, but are they running backs that will be counted on to carry the load for the Dolphins? I don’t think so as much as both players contributed. I think they are both good backs but are more complementary backs. I think the Dolphins need to find a feature back, whether in the draft or free agency. How will they address it, and will they address the position as a big need?
— DolphinsTalk.com (@DolphinsTalk) February 25, 2021
Last week there was chatter about Green Bay Packers free agent running back Aaron Jones and the Dolphins having mutual interest. It sounds good, but after getting burned by Howard in free agency last year, the Dolphins should spend their money elsewhere. Jones will want to get paid after having a big season last year, as he should, but with there being a salary-cap crunch, do the Dolphins want to give a running back like Jones a contract with more than $10 million in guarantees? I would say no. I think Miami should use that money somewhere else.
I would really like to see the Dolphins use one of their 4 picks in the top 50 on a running back. Last year the Dolphins were able to take a running back with 5 picks in the first 2 rounds, but they passed. In particular, the Dolphins’ last 3 picks at 30, 39, and 56 were prime areas to take a running back, and they went elsewhere with their pick. I realize the Dolphins had many other needs, but they were dead last in rushing on offense in 2019, and their leading rusher was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, with 243 yards.
The Dolphins could have drafted either Clyde Edwards-Helaire, D’Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers, JK Dobbins, or AJ Dillon. The Dolphins instead drafted Noah Igbinoghene, Robert Hunt, and Raekwon Davis. I had no issues with Hunt and Davis being drafted because they are solid players on the offensive and defensive line, and they showed it. However, I had an issue when the team drafted Igbinoghene with their last pick in the first round because the team already had Xavien Howard and Byron Jones at cornerback, so why spend a first-round pick on another cornerback? I get coach Brian Flores values defensive backs, but the Dolphins had other pressing needs other than cornerback. It reminded me of the 2001 draft when the Dolphins drafted Jamar Fletcher in the first round when the team already had Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain in the prime of their careers and locked into long-term contracts. Igbinoghene might turn out to be a good player, but I think the Dolphins should have gone running back with that pick or some other position.
This year the Dolphins have 4 picks in the first 2 rounds with picks 3, 18, 36, and 50. There is no running back in this draft worth taking at pick 3. The best chance the Dolphins will have to take the first running back is pick 18. In my opinion, the best running back in this year’s class is Alabama running back Najee Harris.
Harris has good size, can run between the tackles for tough physical yards, speed can catch the ball out of the backfield, and can block. I watched many Alabama games last year and enjoyed watching him play, and every time he made a big play, I would always yell the Dolphins need to draft him. He seems like a perfect fit at pick 18 unless someone picks him earlier.
In the end, it will come down to the Dolphins draft board, but more importantly, do the Dolphins value taking a running back at pick 18? Flores comes from the New England Patriots, and during Bill Belichick’s time, he has drafted two running backs in the first round, and both times were late in the first round. Maybe that’s how Flores is because he will have input on the roster with general manager Chris Grier. The Dolphins could take someone else at 18, and maybe Harris falls to pick 36, but I would be stunned if he fell to pick 36.
Other running backs the Dolphins could take like Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, and to name a few. However, the Dolphins have filled a lot of their holes since going into this full-blown rebuild. It’s time for the Dolphins to take one of the better running backs in this draft class, and they don’t have any excuses, especially with 4 picks in the top 50 after not taking a running back in the draft last year with all of those extra picks. I feel the Dolphins need to prioritize taking one early rather than settle for a free agent or making a trade for a low pick like the team did last year.