Sun Sentinel Broward Edition
Who could fill a void at RB through draft?
Myles Gaskin’s emergence as the Miami Dolphins’ starting running back last season was a welcomed sight after the franchise failed to draft a back during the 2020 NFL draft. Despite Gaskin’s production, which stacked up with some of the top-50 players in the NFL last season, running back remains one of the missing pieces the Dolphins need as coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier enter Year 3 of their rebuild.
Alabama’s Najee Harris, Clemson’s Travis Etienne and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams are considered among the best running backs available in the 2021 draft later this month.
And one of those players could help starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins execute a balanced attack Flores seeks offensively.
When could the Dolphins strike on using a draft pick on a running back?
With four picks in the top 50, the Dolphins may want to consider targeting Harris, Etienne or Williams with their No. 18 pick in the first round instead of waiting until pick No. 36 in the second round.
The Arizona Cardinals at 16, New York Jets who pick at No. 23, Pittsburgh
Steelers at 24 and Buffalo Bills at 30, and the Atlanta Falcons with the No. 35 pick in the second round could be in the market for a running back like Miami.
And the Dolphins cannot afford to miss out on a running back like they did in the 2020 draft, when six were taken before the second round finished.
Gaskin, a seventh-round pick in 2019, finished 20th among all running backs and 46th among all NFL players with 972 yards from scrimmage last season. The only downfalls from Gaskin’s season: He scored just five touchdowns and was available to play in only 10 games.
In Gaskin’s absence, Dolphins running back Salvon Ahmed provided some spark with two standout performances while veteran acquisitions like Matt Breida, Jordan Howard and DeAndre Washington didn’t contribute much.
This offseason, the Dolphins added veteran Malcolm Brown in free agency, and signed former St. Thomas Aquinas High running back Jordan Scarlett to join the backfield of Gaskin, Ahmed and Patrick Laird.
Gaskin finished 37th in the NFL with 584 yards rushing, adding three rushing touchdowns. His 388 yards receiving were seventh among all NFL running backs last season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire went to the Kansas City Chiefs with the last pick in the 2020 first round, two picks after Miami drafted cornerback Noah Igbinoghene. Edwards-Helaire finished 19th with 803 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
The Detroit Lions drafted D’Andre Swift with the No. 35 pick, and the Indianapolis Colts selected Jonathan Taylor with the No. 41 pick, while Miami filled a need with right tackle/guard Robert Hunt at No. 39.
Taylor had the best rookie season of any running back drafted, finishing third in the NFL with 1,169 yards rushing with 11 touchdowns, while Swift finished 39th with 521 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.
The Los Angeles Rams drafted Cam Akers with the 52nd pick, and the Baltimore Ravens selected J.K. Dobbins at No. 55, leaving Miami to draft defensive tackle Raekwon Davis with the No. 56 pick.
Dobbins finished 18th in rushing with 805 yards with nine touchdowns, while Akers came around toward the end of the season to finish 32nd with 625 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
While Gaskin’s production was relatively on par with some of the rookies the Dolphins failed to draft, it won’t be enough to sustain Miami’s rushing attack for the upcoming 17-game season.
The Dolphins need a talented playmaker to join the mix, and should be in position to add him during the 2021 draft.