Why Dolphins are searching for a veteran RB; remaining options

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 24: Running back Kenyan Drake
KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 24: Running back Kenyan Drake /

The Miami Dolphins are still searching for a veteran running back to add to their roster to add depth behind Kenyan Drake.

If you’ve been following the Miami Dolphins moves since free agency began this probably isn’t news to you, but the team is in search of a veteran running back.

Not just a running back. A veteran running back. Key word.

Yes, the Dolphins can take a chance on a running back in the upcoming 2018 NFL draft. This draft is full of them. Selecting a running back in the draft would be a cheaper option as well.

Finding a back that can run, catch passes, and split the workload is what head coach Adam Gase is looking for. However, they want a back in whom they can feel confident when it comes to the areas of pass protection and blitz-pickup responsibilities. This could be a challenge for running backs entering the NFL. Investing in a veteran limits concerns in these areas.

NFL running backs need to know those responsibilities in order to succeed in the league. This is why finding a veteran at the position is so vital to the Dolphins as opposed to a rookie draftee who may need time to harness these skills.

A veteran RB would also be a safer option as a contingency plan in case current starter Kenyan Drake befalls an injury than a rookie would be.

Let’s say the Dolphins sign a free agent RB and draft a back. If Drake ever goes down, the Dolphins would have that veteran to lead the way who already knows how to play in the NFL. The rookie would then take on a smaller workload while he is being groomed and getting adjusted to the game.

In a scenario where the Dolphins just draft a rookie and don’t sign a free agent, said rookie would have to take on a much larger role, may not be ready for the speed of the game, and may have to think about his duties in pass protection and react too slow recognizing where blitzes are coming from.

The Dolphins also have a habit of not giving their rookies of certain positions a featured role right away. They like to give them a small workload, see if they can handle it, then give them a little more and a little more.

They did it with 2016 draft picks Leonte Carroo who has not shown to handle much and Jakeem Grant who surpassed Carroo.

They did it with 1st-rounder Charles Harris who may be still playing off the bench while defensive ends Cameron Wake, Andre Branch, and Robert Quinn who have bigger cap hits will likely see the field.

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Linebacker Raekwon McMillan took a backseat to Mike Hull at the start of 2017 training camp before he got the starting job and befell an injury.

They even did it with current starter Kenyan Drake.

Wanting a veteran RB is key for the Dolphins. But finding one who fits the ideal mold for Adam Gase is going to be harder.

Most of the notable quality free agents have already been signed and those that remain either do not fit the mold, are too old for the Dolphins liking, injury prone, or are players who simply did not work out for their prior teams.
By this point, bringing back Damien Williams would make a lot of sense. He’s played with the Dolphins for the last handful of years, he’s only 25 years of age, and he’s had a degree of success in Adam Gase’s offense. But the Dolphins seem to be looking for someone who is a little more talented than Williams.

Notable free agents who still remain and fit the Dolphins ideal mold:

DeMarco Murray (30) – visited Dolphins and left without a deal
Darren Sproles (34)
Alfred Morris (29)
Thomas Rawls (24)
Charles Simms (27)
Terrance West (27)
Jamaal Charles (31)
Branden Oliver (26)