We continue to look at the Miami Dolphins' 2015 NFL Draft class, working through each player from the perspective of the college football fans who watched them each week. In this case, we are taking a look at Miami's second selection of the fifth-round, Boise State running back Jay Ajayi, who many expected to be the third running back selected during the draft and someone who should have come off the board in the second- or third-round.
Instead, concerns about Ajayi's knee, which is said to be a "bone-on-bone" injury, saw him fall to the Dolphins' in the fifth-round as the 13th running back to be selected. Did Miami come away with a steal? Will the medical concerns come back to haunt Miami? The injury did not seem to slow Ajayi during his college career, where he ran for 3,796 yards on 678 carries, with 50 career touchdowns in 38 games played. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry, eclipsing 1,400 rushing yards in each of his last two seasons; led the NCAA in carries, rushing touchdowns, and total touchdowns last year; and has 73 career receptions, 50 of them last year, our of the backfield, for 771 yards with five touchdowns.
To get more insight into Ajayi, we turn to SB Nation's Mountain West Conference blog, Mountain West Connection.
Ajayi is a well-round back who can pass block, catch the ball and is capable of handling a high amount of carries while still being able to be fresh later in the game. Those traits are a reason that Ajayi would fit in well as a high prospect in the NFL.
Ajayi has great balance and able to rebound fairly quickly if he gets hit or bouncing outside when changing directions. Ajayi also is able to absorb contact and needs multiple defenders to take him down.
Ajayi has had an issue in ball security by fumbling 12 times during his career, with seven happening last year. However, Ajayi has improved on that and he carried the ball almost 350 times, so his percentage of fumbles is low.
---- Jeremy Mauss
During the draft, Mauss also broke down some of the concerns about Ajayi's knee as the running back continued to sit on the board after the first 99 picks were made:
Boise State running back Jay Ajayi was considered the the third running back in the NFL Draft and a top-50 player overall but after three rounds, 99 picks and nine running backs later he is still on the board.
The reasoning comes from an old injury of Ajayi which is causing teams to completely back away. Just over a week ago a report surfaced that Ajayi had to go back to Indianapolis for a medical recheck, but according to Ajayi's agent that was not true.
This injury was four years ago for Ajayi and what is questioned now is his longevity in the league, but even knowing this info Ajayi was still projected to be gone by the end of the second day. Medical reviews of Ajayi show that he has very little cartilage in his knee and it is close to bone on bone, and that means that while Ajayi can play if needed his career in the NFL might not last for long.
Basically, Ajayi is good to go right now but he might last through his rookie contract, and after that is up in the air. That is making teams extremely nervous to take Ajayi within the first 100 picks.
Ajayi could prove to be a great value in the short term and if his knee proves to be able to handle the pounding a running back takes then he will be a tremendous pick.
---- Jeremy Mauss
The Ajayi picks seems like a low-risk, high-reward type of move for the Dolphins, who have an established starter in Lamar Miller already on the roster. If Ajayi is able to come into the league and play right away, he will, at worst, be the power running back option for Miami and someone who can be used to keep Miller fresh. If he proves to be more than that, he will push Miller and compete for carries.
All that for just the use of a fifth-round pick. Ajayi could prove to be a steal for Miami.