Current Running Backs:
The Miami Dolphins currently have Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas, Mike Gillislee, Cameron Marshall and Marcus Thigpen on the roster. The Dolphins need an upgrade as none of these backs have proven that they can be an every-down running back for this team.
The Dolphins were ranked 26th in rushing yardage last in 2013. Miller and Thomas, the primary backs in the offense, didn’t impress in their full-season try-out. The duo combined for only 1,115, six touchdowns and an average of less than four yards per carry. The two were running behind one of the NFL‘s worst offensive lines, but neither ever showed the competence to be more than just a number two option in the NFL.
Pass blocking was an issue all year with the running backs, highlighted by the picture above.
Not only that, but neither Miller or Thomas showed the pass catching ability that is needed from the running back in Dolphins’ new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor‘s offense. Lazor was creative with his running backs in his days as the University of Virginia offensive coordinator, utilizing the mismatches that running backs create with screens and swing passes.
The Dolphins need a complete back; one who has vision to find the holes in the zone-blocking scheme, one who can catch passes out of the backfield and one who can stop a blitzing linebacker from getting to his quarterback.
The Dolphins’ new GM, DennisHickey, knows he needs a new body in his offense’s backfield, but he is confident in his ability to evaluate and draft running backs. Hickey has said that finding a running back in free agency is not a priority because he would like to draft one. Hickey was largely credited with landing Pro Bowl RB Doug Martin in the 2012 draft when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
True to his claim, Hickey waited more than a week after the start of free agency to bring in RB Knowshon Moreno for a visit on Friday. Moreno left Miami without a deal, but signing him is still on the table.
Moreno, who had 13 touchdowns playing on a record-setting Denver Broncos offense last season, would provide the Dolphins with the do-it-all RB that they need, but he isn’t an electrifying talent. Moreno will get the job done, but it won’t be flashy. There are also concerns as to how much of Moreno’s success is owed to Peyton Manning.
Nonetheless, adding Moreno would assure that the Dolphins enter the season with a reliable runner in the backfield. This would also give the Dolphins draft flexibility. Having Moreno (or any veteran running back) on the shelf allows Hickey to take a chance on the running back position in the draft as he wouldn’t have to land an immediate starter.
With this new-found flexibility, Miami could wait until the later rounds to add a dynamic talent like Dri Archer or DeAnthony Thomas, or the Dolphins could select their running back of the future early in the draft and mold behind Moreno, who has gained an unquestionable amount of wisdom in his five years in the league.
Don’t be surprised to see Tre Mason or Ka’deem Carey, two of the top ranked backs in this draft, in a Dolphins uniform next season. Both Mason and Carey have a similar body type to the aforementioned Martin and both have similar playing styles. Both would be a reach in the first round, but it’s likely that neither will be available when the Dolphins pick in the second round (18th).
If the Dolphins don’t land one of the top running backs or choose to wait until a later round, Charles Sims, Lache Seastrunk or Devonta Freeman are second-day prospects who would fit the mold of what the Dolphins are looking for in.
Marion Grice, Isaiah Crowell, James White and De’Anthony Thomas are all projected to go in the fifth round or later and could end up being steals in this draft.
The Dolphins will draft a running back and his name is likely listed here today. Hickey and head coach Joe Philbin know a true every-down back is needed in this offense. Miami will improve upon the league’s 26th ranked rush attack as the Dolphins cannot afford to field a one-dimensional offense next season … again.