The 2013 Miami Dolphins are a young team full of potential, but a lot of unproven talent at key positions this year. Lamar Miller, the presumed starting running back, mans one of those positions, attempting to fill the shoes left by Reggie Bush, who left via free agency for the Detroit Lions. According to NFL.com's Around the League, Miller might be able to do just that.
Using a countdown of the top 40 players they see "Making the Leap" in 2013, Around the League is working their way through some of the potential breakout players this season. With their 20th selection, they named Miller.
Explaining why they selected Miller, NFL.com, Chris Wesseling, writes:
Miller led all running backs at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.40 40-yard dash, but fell to the fourth round due to a pre-draft shoulder surgery among other -- more specious -- concerns. Healthy by training camp, Miller quickly impressed as the top big-play threat in the Dolphins' backfield. He finished an inconsistent rookie year with 250 yards at 4.90 yards per rush on 51 carries.
Although billed as a home-run threat, Miller also showed good balance and ran with more authority on the interior than expected. He has an impressive initial burst through the hole, excellent change-of-direction and the ability to inflict damage on the perimeter once he accelerates.
However, it's not all roses for Miller. There are plenty of obstacles he has to overcome.
I charted Miller with 20 of 51 attempts (nearly 40 percent) at two yards or less last season. Much like an early-career C.J. Spiller or a late-model Chris Johnson, there's a boom-or-bust aspect to his game. When he trusted his blocking and stayed inside, he enjoyed success. Too often, though, he hesitated to read the hole and broke outside in search of the big play.
What should fans expect from Miller this year? Wesseling also tackles that:
When you keep your ear to the NFL ground long enough, you develop an instinct for unproven players on the verge of success. It starts with a quiet confidence emanating from all corners of the organization. The front office creates an opportunity by shipping out the veteran place-holder, all the while singing the upstart's praises. The coaches note an increasing mental acuity that will enable the developing player to progress once placed in a featured role. Teammates and beat writers begin ramping up expectations.
Miller is aiming for 1,500 rushing yards and five yards per carry this season. It's not an unreasonable goal. A more realistic one is outpacing Bush's two-year Miami average of 1,330 yards from scrimmage
Miller, who appears to be ahead of Daniel Thomas and the rest of the Miami running back corps in the "position battle" this training camp, has Dolphins fans excited. Many remember watching him at the University of Miami, using that 4.40 40-yard dash speed. Will he be able to transition into the feature back for Miami's NFL franchise, though? This year will determine that.
Fans, the team, and now NFL.com, seem to think it will happen.
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