Exploring the Draft: Running Backs

Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Evan Spencer (6) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) react following Elliot
Jan 1, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Evan Spencer (6) and running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) react following Elliot /

With the 2016 NFL draft around the corner, the Miami Dolphins find themselves rebuilding the roster yet again.

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Mike Tannenbaum and company face the daunting task of patching up glaring holes at running back, cornerback, linebacker and defensive line. The pressure is on for the team to add at least three potential starters while shoring up the noticeable lack of depth in 2016. Despite the multiple needs, running back should be the primary focus with the 13th overall pick.

When Lamar Miller departed for Houston, the Dolphins found themselves taking another hit to an already depleted roster. After signing a 4 year, $26 million contract, the organization attempted to rebound but failed in their attempts to land C.J. Anderson or Chris Johnson, after both players resigned with their former teams.

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles have landed the second overall pick, the organization finds themselves in prime position to scoop up the cream of this year’s crop of running backs, Ezekiel Elliot of OSU. Before pulling off the monster trade with the Cleveland Browns, rumors swirled that Miami would need to trade up in order to land the former Buckeye’s superstar.

Not only would Elliot fill a need, but allows the Dolphins to utilize a more balanced approach on offense. A backfield featuring Elliot, Ajayi and Williams would take pressure off Tannehill, while providing Adam Gase plenty of offensive weapons to attack opposing defenses.

Possessing all the characteristics of a franchise back, Zeke combines 4.4 speed and a 6-0, 225 pound frame that punishes defenders. Exploring the draft’s other options like Derrek Henry, DeVontae Booker, Kenyon Drake and Alex Collins, its clear that no one matches the blend of vision, athleticism, strength, and skill set to be a three down back. The truth is that Miami has not had a dominant rushing attack since the days of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown.

Lamar Miller would have been a solid tandem back to the bruising style of Jay Ajayi but the organization stuck to their price point and let #26 walk away in free agency. The argument can be made to wait until the later rounds and select one of the drafts other backs to pair with the current group but the drop off from Elliot and his peers is much steeper than the 1st and 2nd round graded cornerbacks in this draft. The Dolphins could easily find a capable starter to pair with Maxwell or take the Ireland approach and double down in round two and three.

When breaking down the countless mock drafts and expert’s analysis, there is a unanimously high opinion on Ezekiel Elliot and what he brings to an offense. Unless the Dolphins want to repeat the errors of the past and go with a unproven, committee approach, the choice is clear of who’s name should be called when Roger Goodell calls out the 13th selection in the 2016 NFL draft.