The Miami Dolphins are certainly in dire need of an upgrade at the running back position, although RB Lamar Miller showed promise at times during his sophomore season in the league. Miller, who is entering his third season in the league, is more of a change of pace back and struggles in short-yardage situations.
Numerous reports suggest that the Dolphins organization is “not sold” on Lamar Miller nor Daniel Thomas (for obvious reasons there..) as the future for this team at the running back position.
Although Miami did take former Florida running back Mike Gillislee in last year’s draft, the team will likely look to upgrade at the running back position through the draft.
It’s quite simple. The free agent running back market is riddled with under-achievers, over-achievers, and guys who are clearly past their prime (MJD, Ronnie Brown, etc.).
The 2014 draft class is loaded with talent at the running back position from guys like Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde to Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey to Washington’s Bishop Sankey, the draft is loaded with talent.
So who are some running backs the team could be interested in?
Let’s take a look at five guys who should be high on Miami’s radar:
Carlos Hyde – Ohio State
2013 Stats via ESPN.com: 208 attempts/1,521 yards/7.3 ypc/15 tds – 16 rec/147 yards/3 tds
Hyde is a monster at the running back position listed at 6’0” 240 pounds. He possesses that Marshawn Lynch style while running the football, meaning he will run over you, around you, or any other way to get to the end-zone.
It’s quite a mind-blowing statistic when you realize that this guy averaged 7.3 yards per carry at 240 pounds. He was a one man wrecking crew this season for the Buckeyes, but he does carry some baggage with him.
He has a few off-the-field incidents that have lead to character concerns, but make no mistake, Hyde can play with the best of them.
If Miami would like to go the route of finding a true #1 back to compliment Lamar Miller and take over the reigns of the “starter” label, Hyde should and more likely could be their second round pick at #50.
Bishop Sankey – Washington
2013 Stats via ESPN.com: 327 attempts/1,870 yards/5.7 ypc/20 tds – 28 rec/304 yards/1 td
We’ll get to “my guy” towards the end of the list, but Bishop Sankey is a very close second on my list of running back wants.
Sankey carried the ball an astonishing 327 times this season for Washington at just 203 pounds. He has the prototypical body that teams look for in a running back at 5’11” 203 pounds, with just enough power and a whole hell of a lot of speed.
Sankey is a capable receiver out of the back field and possesses some of the best hands in the draft class at the running back position, something that Miller really struggled with last season.
If Miami opts to go after a running back in the third round, Sankey may be their guy. My only true concern here would be the fact that they would be adding a player similar to a poor man’s Reggie Bush, rather than someone who has a bit more power.
But, this kid can play and he can carry the ball 30+ times per game.
Lache Seastrunk – Baylor
2013 Stats via ESPN.com: 158 attempts/1,177 yards/7.4 ypc/11 tds
Lache Seastrunk is the wild-card in this year’s class. He is going to test incredibly well and could work his way into the second or third round range. Why? He’s going to run one hell of an impressive 40-yard dash.
Seastrunk is a track-star playing the running back position, similar to Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs. He is perhaps the most elusive and downright quickest back in this draft class – I don’t count Kent State’s Dri Archer nor Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas as running backs.
The only knocks I have on Seastrunk are that he had absolutely no receptions this season in a Baylor offense that, let’s face it, throws the ball more than a flag football team does. With someone who has such incredible speed and elusiveness, why wouldn’t you get this guy the ball in space?
If Miami were to attack the position by adding Seastrunk, I would not be upset, but I would question the decision a bit because he is very similar to Miller. A ton of speed, but most certainly is not a 4th and goal kind of guy.
Tyler Gaffney – Stanford
2013 Stats via ESPN.com: 330 attempts/1,709 yards/5.2 ypc/21 tds – 15 rec/86 yards/1 td
If you caught my Miami Dolphins Mock Draft 2.0 posted earlier today, you probably already know some background on Tyler Gaffney as I have him slated as Miami’s sixth round pick.
What? A running back who rushed for 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns in the sixth round? Indeed.
Gaffney is a back who possesses limited upside due to his, well, lack of athleticism. He does not have the speed to blow you away and will likely run a bad 40 time.
But what Gaffney does offer is a complete bell-cow running back (listed at 6’0” 230 pounds) who can actually hold on to the football inside the pile and fight for extra yardage, something that Miami is missing on it’s current roster.
He comes from a ground and pound Stanford offense who basically rode his back when the going got tough, and boy did he produce.
If Miami were to go this route, I would be fairly happy. No, he’s no Carlos Hyde. But a good comparison would be to Oakland’s Reshad Jennings. Not a ton of speed. Not a ton of anything really. But he gets the damn job done when it matters most.
James Wilder Jr. – Florida State
2013 Stats via ESPN.com: 81 attempts/563 yards/7.0 ypc/8 tds – 3 rec/27 yards
And finally, my guy.
James Wilder Jr. is one of the bigger backs in this year’s class listed at 6’2” 230 pounds. His stats will not blow you away, but he did happen to share the load with 2 and sometimes 3 other running backs during Florida State’s National Championship run – god that kills me to type.
Wilder Jr. is one of the most physically gifted players in this year’s class and will test extremely well at the combine. Look for Wilder Jr. to show off his speed, power (expect a nice bench press number), explosiveness, etc.
He does, like Hyde, carry some off-the-field issues with him, but this guy’s upside outweighs the risk.
If Miami opted to take a guy like James Wilder Jr. in the 3rd or 4th round, I would be ecstatic. His running style reminds me of what could have been with ex-Dolphin Ronnie Brown. Wilder Jr. has the speed, the power, the elusiveness, and the blocking ability to be the perfect running back for this Miami offense complimenting Miller.