The dust has officially settled from the 2021 NFL Draft, and the Miami Dolphins still have questions at the running back position. Well, at least that is what fans think, as Miami has clearly shown they believe in their starting running back, 2019 seventh-round pick Myles Gaskin.
Some Dolphins fans still haven’t recovered from Miami taking Jaelan Phillips with the 18th overall pick instead of Alabama running back Najee Harris.
In my opinion, this was a great move, and if Phillips can stay healthy, he will have an incredible career in Miami. Then Dolphins fans started to panic when the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted No. 1 running back Travis Etienne with the next pick.
The only hope left for Dolphins fans was UNC running back Javonte Williams at pick 36, until that hope was crushed when the Denver Broncos traded up to pick 35 and took him one pick before Miami.
For the second year in a row, Dolphins fans couldn’t help but feel like Miami missed out on their starting running back. However, do the Dolphins feel the same way?
Will Myles Gaskin be the RB1 for the Miami Dolphins in 2021?
I believe they do not, and I will go even further to say that what they believe in is Gaskin as their No. 1 running back. Is their belief correct?
To be honest, we will find out, but I will just lay out some facts. One fact is that Gaskin has flashed when he is on the field. I did an interesting experiment on Twitter, too, that is worth noting. I posted a picture of Gaskin’s college statistics and asked, based on the production, where would you take this running back in the 2021 NFL Draft? The unanimous answer was the second to the third round, which I found ironic.
It seems Miami fans are hungry for a running back, but they don’t appreciate the one they currently have. Gaskin averaged 97.2 yards from scrimmage in 2020, though he only played in 10 games because of a knee injury and COVID-19. And yes, yards from scrimmage aren’t just rushing yards, but Gaskin adds value as a pass-catcher, so the stat is a fair one to use.
As a runner, Gaskin averaged 4.1 yards per carry on his 142 attempts, which was good enough for 584 yards. His touchdown numbers were low, only rushing for three, but Gaskin did not start all 10 of those games. He actually only started in eight (it is listed as seven, but he was the starter in the Las Vegas game).
As a starter, Gaskin produced 498 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns and 31 receptions for 326 yards and two scores (103 all-purpose yards per game as a starter). If you split that into an entire 16-game season, Gaskin would have been on pace for 996 rushing yards, six rushing touchdowns, 62 receptions, 652 receiving yards, and four receiving touchdowns. In total, as a starting running back, Gaskin would have had a 1,648 all-purpose yard season with 10 touchdowns.
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Those are impressive numbers.
Those impressive numbers are likely a significant factor in Miami not pressing to add another running back early in the 2021 NFL Draft. Then, when you turn on the film, you can see that Gaskin has some juice to his game. He adds a fun, energizing element to Miami’s offense from the running back position.
He may not be a power back that you can trust on 3rd and 1, or 4th and inches, but Miami did sign Malcolm Brown this offseason. While Gaskin will be the RB1, Brown will likely be their RB2 and short-yardage guy to compliment Gaskin perfectly.
A lot of people will focus on the lack of broken tackles or lack of yards after contact. Although, according to PFF, Gaskin had 31 missed tackles forced, which is a solid number to build off of. He also had 360 yards after contact, and while that isn’t a great number, it shows he can do it.
However, when you see how Miami has constructed their offense, starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is obviously the biggest winner; Gaskin is a close second. The yards after contact can be your argument, and the Dolphins hear you, which is why they drafted wide receiver, Jaylen Waddle with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Having wide receiver Will Fuller and Waddle allows Miami to force defenses to play more two-high safety, which will lighten the box.
What that means is, Miami will have the upper hand in the run game before the play even starts. Gaskin will not run against many stacked boxes, allowing him to make a cut and go instead of having to break tackles and grind yards. If teams decide that they will run one-high safety and stack the box, Waddle and Fuller will be making highlights each and every week.
Gaskin will need to show he can stay healthy in 2021, but I think fans should be a lot more excited to see what he can do this year than they are. Gaskin has made some highlight plays in his career while also showing you he can shoulder the load if need be.
So, while you may think that Miami does not have a RB1 in their running back by committee approach, you’re sadly mistaken. Gaskin showed last season that he has the talent and potential to be the lead guy in Miami, and he will be the RB1 in 2021.