In the 2011 NFL draft the Miami Dolphins traded up in the second round to take running back Daniel Thomas, and in 2012 they landed Lamar Miller in the fourth round. In the 2013 draft they took University of Florida product Mike Gillislee, and despite going lower than the other two (Gillislee went in the fifth round), the 5’11” 210lbs. Florida native will get a chance to pass both on the depth chart (quickly too).
I do think that Miller will get a massive chance to be the lead dog for the running back group, but the second year RB will have to produce. Thomas on the other hand has already had his opportunities to show that he is legit, and he has left Dolfans underwhelmed. Other ‘Phins like Marcus Thigpen and Jonas Gray could get a chance for some carries in 2013, but the quick Gillislee and his great RB vision should be able to establish himself as no.2 at worst on the RB depth chart.
Gillislee is a decisive runner with under-the-radar power and an exciting level of physicality in his play. At college he took back seats to Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, but in 2012 he established his value and showed when given the chance he can take the ball and run with it (pun pretty much intended). The new Dolphins regime did not use Reggie Bush as a catching threat out of the backfield as often as I would have liked, but Gillislee has the skills to run good routes and use his good hands to contribute and produce.
One main reason I wonder if the former Gator will get a ton of playing time is his NFL-ready ability to pick up blitzers and help in pass-protection. He is likely already the best blocking RB on the roster, and considering the franchise is in hands of second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill the blocking skill is magnified that much more.
Many Dolfans are surely familiar with the native Floridian already, and those who are have to be as excited as I am for his future on the NFL stage. For many ‘Phins phans it is difficult to cheer for Florida Gators, but this guy will earn a quick exception.