Miami Dolphins’ Preview: Jay Ajayi


When a player is drafted in the fifth round of the NFL Draft it means they are either a project or special teams contributor. It isn’t often that a team drafts a player that late in the draft knowing full well that they may actually be a starter come the regular season. It may not happen often but it happened this year when the Miami Dolphins selected Jay Ajayi with the thirteenth pick in the fifth round of this year’s draft. Jay Ajayi has not even played a down against any NFL team yet, but he still has a lot of Dolphins fans excited for the season. Let’s take a look at why so many people are clamoring to see the fifth round pick in action.

More from Dolphins News

2014 College Season

Since Jay Ajayi is a rookie after all he has no stats in the NFL so we will look at his last season playing for Boise State. Ajayi enjoyed a very good college career at Boise State but his 2014 season was just magical. In 2014 Ajayi became the first player in history to gain more than 1,800 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards (NFL) in a season. What makes Ajayi a special back is his ability to beat defenders multiple ways. Ajayi has the speed to kick into second gear and make plays in space but he also has a very physical running style that allows him to break tackles. As if that wasn’t enough to ask for in a running back, Ajayi is also a serious threat out of the backfield. Last season he recorded 28 rushing touchdowns, good enough for second in the nation, as well as four receiving touchdowns.

Leading up to the draft, Ajayi ran a 4.57 40 yard dash, did 19 reps on the bench press, and lead all draftees in the vertical jump, broad jump, and both shuttle runs. Add in his six foot, 221 pound frame and you get the makings of a premier back that is a legitimate threat on the ground and through the air. The only problem to worry about is his durability. While in college, Ajayi tore his ACL which caused him to need surgery. This problem led to many teams shying away from Ajayi because of the wear and tear the NFL can put on a running back.

2015 Preview

The bad news for Ajayi is that the Miami Dolphins already have starter Lamar Miller returning to their backfield after rushing for more than 1,000 yards for the first time. The good news for Ajayi is that Miller is his only competition for the starting job. Even better news for Ajayi is that the Dolphins’ coaches have never fully trusted Miller with being the starting back for them. Throughout his career, Miller has not been thought of as a bell cow running back because he does not have the most physical of running styles. Miller does his best work when he is able to get outside of the tackles and work in space. Miller’s weakness is where Ajayi can enter the Dolphins’ game plans. Right off the bat the Dolphins will be considering Ajayi to handle the bulk of the interior running. As mentioned above, Ajayi definitely has the physical style that can get the job done between the tackles. His skills as a power runner will take away from Miller’s opportunities and build the amount of trust the coaches have in Ajayi. The bonus for Ajayi, here, is that he can also be a speedy back on the outside. If the coaches have enough trust in him, then they can definitely use him as an all around back while dropping Miller to second string.

More from Phin Phanatic

It might take a little while before the coaches let Ajayi be their new bell cow running back, though. Early reports say that Ajayi is looking fine in the Dolphins’ camps but the first real test will come in the preseason games. If Ajayi does exceptional during these four games then he will be very close to being named the starter. If he does not have an exceptional preseason then he might find himself sitting with the second stringers for a bit or splitting carries with Miller. Coach Philbin has become known for letting rookies sit and simmer during their first season and the same might happen to Ajayi if he doesn’t blow them away in the preseason. I don’t know when the coaches will hand it to him, but at some point this season Jay Ajayi will be the starting back and he will blow the league up.