After months of scouting, visits, and zoom calls, the Miami Dolphins are now just 9 days away from the First Round of the NFL Draft.
With picks 5, 18, and 26 on day 1 of the draft along with 39th and 56th in round 2, GM Chris Grier will likely use one of those picks to add a running back to compliment Miami’s new addition in Jordan Howard.
Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported that the Dolphins are targeting a running back in the second round of the draft. However, this won’t rule out a chance at taking a back late in the first with picks 18 or 26.
The Dolphins have been interested in a number of RB’s such as Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins, Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, Wisconsin’s Johnathan Taylor, Florida State’s Cam Akers, and LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
J.K. Dobbins visited Miami on March 12, both sides seemed to have been really intrigued with each other as the Buckeyes RB left believing the Dolphins really liked him. The junior rushed for 2,003 yards in 301 carries (6.7 per carry), recording 21 rushing touchdowns. On the receiving end Dobbins caught 23 passes for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns. His most notable season performances came in his final 3 games, rushing for 211 yards and 4 touchdowns against Michigan, 172 yards and a touchdown against Wisconsin, and a 174 yards and 1 touchdown night in the College Football Playoffs vs Clemson.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Dobbins falling to the LA Chargers at No. 37, seeing his ball security as an issue, saying: “Dobbins has had some ball-security issues, he’s not a big-time receiver out of the backfield. He had a couple of drops against Clemson. If this was 1985, JK Dobbins would be a top-15 pick. He’s a fierce runner, but he’s not the great receiver and he does have to do a better job, as Jonathan Taylor does at Wisconsin 18 fumbles, making sure that their ball security is where it needs to be.”
Selecting Dobbins could be Miami’s most realistic scenario as they likely won’t have to use one of the first round picks to get the guy they are looking for. Nonetheless, Miami could use pick No. 26 to keep him away from any other interested teams.
D’Andre Swift is another highly regarded name being spread around by Dolphins’ officials. Miami planned on bringing in Swift to team headquarters until the NFL banned visits for the time being. His 2019 campaign consisted of 196 rushed (6.2 per carry) for 1,218 yards, finishing with 7 rushing touchdowns. Swift caught 24 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. Notable performances from Swift come against Kentucky, rushing for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns and vs Texas A&M, finishing with 4 touchdowns on 103 yards rushing.
“Swift is the most complete back, he can run, catch, block, he doesn’t fumble, that’s the issue with Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin.” Said Kiper Jr regarding D’Andre Swift’s potential. “He’s a better receiver, better ball security than JK Dobbins coming out of Ohio State.”
Kiper Jr. projects Swift to be the only running back drafted in the first round, going to the Kansas City Cheifs at No. 32 overall. Due to his lack of being a receiving back, it will be unclear if Miami will use a first rounder on the Georgia Bulldog when there is a number of RB’s left on the board.
Wisconsin’s Johnathan Taylor is another realistic opportunity to select at No. 39. The two-time Doak Walker Award winner and unanimous consensus first-team All-American running back rushed for 2,003 yards on 302 attempts (6.3 per carry), finishing with 21 rushing touchdowns. Out of the 3 players discussed so far, Taylor is the best receiving back, totaling 252 yards on 26 catches for 5 touchdowns. His best games of his junior campaign was against Iowa, recording 250 yards rushing on 31 attempts and vs Michigan, finishing with 203 yards on 23 attempts for 2 touchdowns.
Taylor could easily be the best rounding back on every teams draft board, however, his fumbling is an issue. “”But now with the fumbling issues, 18 fumbles, 15 lost, that’s a concern, a major concern. He’s got to clean that up,” Kiper Jr said. “Tiki Barber did when he was in the NFL. We hope that Jonathan can. He’s a great kid. He’s a hard worker. Technique can improve that, as we saw with Tiki. He did have that fumble, Taylor did, even in the Rose Bowl when he was stripped by (Oregon linebacker) Troy Dye.” Regardless of the fumbling, his raw potential to be such a big impact in the NFL will lead to Taylor to become an early pick in the second round or possibly a late first.
Cam Akers out of Florida State could be the most underrated running back in the draft. Behind a struggling FSU offensive line, Akers rushed for 1,144-yards on 231 attempts (5.0 per carry) in 2019, scoring 14 rushing touchdowns and adding 225 receiving yards, catching 30 passes and scoring 4 receiving touchdowns. His best season performance was against Syracuse, rushing for 144 yards for 4 touchdowns on 20 carries.
“Despite a disappointing win-loss record and a lack of blocking up front, Akers maintained a consistent level of play that represents his football character.” said NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein. “He runs with tempo and flow but alters his rush track at a moment’s notice when needed. He is elusive but lacking the instant burst of a slasher capable of stacking long runs in a single game. Akers has above-average open-field vision once he’s into the second level and looks to run through the tackler’s pads as a finisher. He’s a three-down option with good feel for finding the crease near the goal line, but ball security needs to improve. He can be Leg 1 or 2 of a tandem rushing attack and is one of the more natural runners in the draft.” It won’t be a surprise if Miami does take Akers in the second round, considering that the Dolphins wanted to use one of its “30” visits on him.
LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire is an emerging target for the Dolphins as a second round pick. Edwards-Helaire rushed for 1,414 yards on 215 attempts (6.6 per carry), recording 16 rushing touchdowns. On the receiving end he was efficient as well, catching 55 passes for 453 yards and a touchdown. His top performance came against Alabama, recording 180 total yards and 4 total touchdowns, 3 rushing and 1 receiving. He was huge in the National Championship as well, rushing for 110 yards on 16 carries vs Clemson.
ESPN’s Todd McShay referred Edwards-Helaire as “one of the most underrated players in college football this year. Likely second-round pick. He has excellent lateral quickness to make defenders miss in tight spaces and high-end contact balance to break tackles.”
Possible other running backs available: Utah’s Zach Moss (Miami is expected to have a conference call with him), Vanderbilt’s Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Dolphins have expressed interest), Florida’s Lamical Perrine, Washington’s Salvon Ahmed, Boston College’s AJ Dillon, TCU’s Darius Anderson, UCLA’s Josh Kelly, Maryland’s Josh McFarland Jr, and Miami’s Deejay Dallas.