December 9, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Miami Dolphins running back Lamar Miller (26) runs with the ball after a catch in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Is Lamar Miller the Real Deal?



During the offseason Jeff Ireland allowed Reggie Bush to leave Miami for a 4 year deal with the Lions, despite the running back making it clear that he would prefer to stay in Miami and was willing to take a hometown discount. This decision, and the subsequent lack of any additions at running back, has made it clear that Joe Philbin will give second year RB Lamar Miller every opportunity to start next season. Is Lamar Miller the real deal or just another gifted athlete not suited to be an every down back in the NFL?

College Career and Draft

A Miami native, Miller decided to play for the Hurricanes where he started as a true freshman picking up 646 yards on 108 carries, good for a 6.0 yards per carry average. In 2012, Miller continued to be impressive in his first and only season as a starter amassing 1272 yards on 227 carries (5.6 yds/carry) to go with 6 TD’s. After deciding to go to the draft, Miller continued to impress scouts with his athleticism and quickness running a 4.4 40 yard dash and measuring in at 5’ 10” and 212 lbs. Many scouts gave Miller a low 1st to high 2nd round grade but luckily for the Dolphins he continued to fall until the ‘Phins traded up to grab him with the 2nd pick of the 4th round. His fall was likely due to his only having one season as a college starter and concerns about a lingering shoulder injury.

Past Season and Analysis

In very limited time this past season, Miller showed flashes of his high potential. Over the course of the season he ran for 51 times for 250 yards, however it is very important to note that in games where he had 9 or more carries he averaged a ridiculous 6.4 yards per carry. Granted this only took place 3 times and in games against relatively weak run defenses (Buffalo, NYJ and Oakland), but regardless Miller looked explosive and capable of being an every down back. In examining the tape, Miller continues to look very impressive. His acceleration and ability to hit holes quickly allow him to get into space early and use his speed and elusiveness to turn short runs into big plays.

Additionally, he is much tougher to tackle than many give him credit for, often taking multiple defenders to bring him down and adding valuable yards to the end of his run. He occasionally tries to do a little too much when running on the outside but in general shows very good vision and improvisation when running. There has been some concern about his pad level being too high, but looking at some of the games later in the season he seems to have worked to correct this running in a lower and more compact manner. He is a great fit for the zone-blocking scheme that Mike Sherman installed this past season, showing the required ability to be patient and then hit the hole quickly.

However, Miller is not void of any weakness, his blocking ability is a definite weakness and he is often a liability in pass protection. For this reason, I would expect Mike Sherman to bring in Daniel Thomas on many plays which require the RB to pass protect thanks to his superior size and blocking ability. Additionally, while Miller has shown good hands and ability to make plays after the catch, his route running is questionable and he will have to work to improve that this season. I believe, however, he is athletic and driven enough to make this change and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him lineup in the slot several times this year.


It is very to difficult to predict whether Miller will blossom into the Franchise Running Back the Dolphins want him to be this year. There is no question he has all the tools and athleticism required to be an excellent NFL running back, but his lack of time and experience starting as an every down back in both college and the NFL make it tough to predict how he will perform and whether he will be durable enough for the role. I would expect Miami to start the season splitting carries between Miller and Thomas, but look for Miller to take a greater share of the carries as the year progresses.

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  • kidjoker1991

    I have to say either way miller was going to be a top running back coming into this draft and was gonna go in the first or second round anyway. He can also be an effective run blocker as well thats just not where he is best. Besides that there are many players that lack experience or have faced weaker competition in college that are great players today we know what miller is capable of and its not a bad thing he had one season as a primary rusher in college but he has practiced against nfl players And had a taste of the nfl level miller is ready

    • Pygskyn

      And by practiced against NFL players, you mean, practiced against one of the stingiest run defenses out there. The kid is going to rock it this year.

  • gofins60

    I’m more worried about Thomas being reliable. With 11 picks, I’d consider drafting a RB to compete.

    • Pygskyn

      I’m right there with you on Fumblestilskin. The guy scares the crap out of me every time he handles the ball. The sooner the Phins replace Thomas as Miller’s backup, the better.

  • Maggy

    Great article. Lamar will prove to be one of the steals of last years draft and one of the great sleepers of this years fantasy draft. The passing game will open up running lanes for LM and will allow him to eclipse his five YPC from last year. He will be one of the reasons the Dolphins make the playoffs and win the Superbowl!! You read it here first!

  • Jcartwright67

    Miller is going to be special! What a great pick and a great talent. Wow, what a difference a year makes…last year all I read was doom and gloom. Its nice to read about all the optimism heading into the draft and the ’13 season. Can’t wait for September.

  • Tommy Gosling

    The NY media in miami wanted the dolphin fans to keep bashing the owner to try and get the best GM in the NFL fired. they seen this coming and knew jeff ireland was the real deal. if miami would of fired jeff then the rebuilding process would of started all over again. Jeff ireland is the best and i been telling you fans this for years and you guys bashed me. now miami will have another 55 million in cap space next season also. wow if that does not show how good this guy is i do not know what does. lets not forget he hits on 56% of his draft picks the last 3 years. Best in the NFL.

    • Tommy Gosling

      yes the same media said how great the 9ers coach is but that coach missed on every draft pick last year and 90% of the starters on that team where drafted or signed by other coaching staffs. after the SB jeff ireland can sit there and tell people that he built the dolphins not another GM that would of tried to take credit for like billacheat did in 2001. the 2001 pats where built by bill parcells. and since bill parcells players retired billacheat could not replace them. the pats where in the SB in 1997. most of the guys from the 2001 SB where drafted from 1994 to 1997

  • Richard

    Lamar is definitely a starter. Im not sure about him being an every down back. He is quick and elusive. I had a chance to sit and talk with him last year at the Dolphins kick off luncheon. I must say he is a very humble individual. While Talking to him I expressed to him how excited Miami fans were to have him on the team, not only for his talents, but because he is a Miami local who starred at “THE U”. When he heard this, he couldn’t believe me.

    I see great things for this young player. During the Raiders game he showed us he can be a viable starter (even though he received more carries after Bush was given a break on a 200+ yard game). My only concern is Lamar’s ability to stay healthy and more importantly Daniel Thomas’s ability to stay healthy. Picking up another running back in the draft who is elusive and quick like Lamar, and interchanging them will be huge for us.

  • Miami Jules

    Can’t make a giraffe out of a lion. Miller, much like all players, has strengths and weaknesses, there are some type of plays he can be quite a play maker, and others, in which he will have difficulties getting out of the backfield. Good coaches will identify these, and use him for plays which maxomize his strengths, and Miller has plenty of those.