The Miami Dolphins have a clear hole at running back. If me saying it isn’t enough for you, look no further than Miami trying to sign free agent running back Chris Carson. They know they have a hole there, which is why they tried to sign Carson.
It looked as if Carson was headed to Miami, but one of the best reporters in the NFL, Benjamin Albright, confirmed that Seattle improved their offer to lock him up. Carson is one of the better running backs in the NFL when healthy, so it makes sense that Miami tried to add him. However, they didn’t. So they still need a running back to be their RB1.
Malcolm Brown was a good depth signing, and Myles Gaskin is a solid piece too, but neither of these running backs should be looked at as Miami’s RB1.
The 2021 NFL Draft is likely where the Dolphins will find their starting guy, but that is where things get interesting. And in my opinion, worrisome.
Entering the draft with a significant hole can lead to some major mistakes by teams. Bad franchises overdraft players to try and fill a hole instead of drafting the better players that are available. It happens all the time, and it rarely works.
It can work, but Miami should not take the risk of trying to find out. That risk would be taking a running back at Pick 18. Miami should not reach for a running back in the first round, and that’s what taking a running back in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft would be, a reach.
Many Najee Harris fans will be triggered by that statement, but instead of being a prisoner of the moment, let’s look at this logically and through a team-building lens.
Let me first start by saying Harris is a solid running back, and I do think he will have a solid NFL career if he goes to the right team. This is not an article where I am bashing Harris, so for all the people that will read the headline and take that as me knocking Harris, you are wrong.
What I am disrespecting is the running back position. Running back is one of the most overvalued positions in the NFL and can easily be filled by players not selected in the 1st round. If you think I am crazy, look at the 2020 NFL season.
If we look at the top 10 running backs from the 2020 season just based on yards and touchdowns, the top seven were not 1st round picks for yards, and eight of the top 10 were not first-round picks for touchdowns. I am not even a guy that likes to argue stats, but this is so glaring and obvious.
You do not need to take a running back in the first round to find a productive RB1. It is just a known fact at this point. This isn’t some foolish take where I am telling you to take a quarterback in the sixth round because he can become Tom Brady. This is backed up by stats and happens more times than not.
In the 2020 NFL Draft, one running back was selected in the first round. The Chiefs took Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd pick, making him the only running back selected in the first round. Edwards-Helaire ranked fourth for rookies in rushing yards and sixth for rookies in rushing touchdowns.
To make it worse, arguably the best running back from the 2020 NFL Draft wasn’t even drafted. It was Jacksonville Jaguars’ undrafted free agent rookie running back James Robinson. The Indianapolis Colts’ rookie running back Jonathan Taylor, a second-round pick, also had a great year.
There is no chance I am taking Harris or any running back at Pick 18. You will be passing up on better pieces for your long-term roster, and that’s bad business if you do it. Harris is also already 23, so you’re likely only getting 4-5 solid years of production from him, which isn’t a sound investment in the first round.
Running backs do not have the shelf life that other positions do. Not only would you be reaching for a player who is not as good as other available players, but the player you take won’t even play as long as the guys you could have selected.
Some people will argue that Miami needs a running back, so they need to take him. Again, that’s what bad franchises do, and that’s how you get fired. Miami needs to focus more on the big picture of building a perineal contender and setting up starter Tua Tagovailoa for the long haul, not just the next few years.
I think if Miami lets their draft board play out, they will hopefully be able to get a starting running back at Pick 36. If that doesn’t work out, that would mean the top 3 running backs were already selected. That would be great news for Miami, as it would allow Miami to get a player at 36 that is way better than the 36th overall prospect in the draft. I also think Miami could even wait until Pick 50 to get their RB1, but regardless, they should not take one in Round 1, and especially at Pick 18.
Taking a running back in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft would be a reach, and Miami should not reach for a running back at Pick 18 in the draft.