The Miami Dolphins used their third round pick, the 73rd overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, to add Alabama running back Kenyan Drake to the roster. Drake spent the 2015 season as the primary backup to Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, but that was more of a glut of talented running backs than a sign of anything detrimental in Drake's game. A pure home-run hitter anytime he has the ball in his hands, Drake should be able to come in and immediately serve as the compliment to presumed starter Jay Ajayi, assuming Drake does not win the starting job outright.
What does Drake bring to Miami? We turn to SB Nation's Alabama blog Roll 'Bama Roll for a better look.
Kenyan Drake Profile
A rotational change-of-pace back with skills as a receiver and an accomplished return man and gunner, Kenyan Drake exemplifies the word versatility. Drake is a blazing fast player that can accelerate into another gear that most players don't have within the blink of an eye. When he gets to the sideline and speeds up, he almost magically slips by defenders who seemed to have an easy angle on him. Drake is not purely a speed back. At 210 pounds, he's also shown ability and willingness to lower his shoulder and plow into a pile, and he is surprisingly effective at grinding out those yards too. Drake has also been used extensively as a receiver, possessing decent hands and amazing route running.
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Obviously, the injuries are huge. Drake missed much of 2014 with a broken leg, but he came back in 2015 looking just as fast (though obviously not trusting his body in power situations as often). Then he broke his arm while making a tackle on special teams near the end of 2015, missing three games before finishing out the season with a cast. As a runner, he does not possess great vision. He also sometimes struggles with balance. Drake really struggles in pass protection, being borderline useless in that regard. He also had issues with fumbles early in his career, but he seemed to fix those during his senior season.
Roll Bama Roll Verdict
On one hand, he looks like he has enormous unmet potential and could become a better pro player than he ever was in college. On the other, you have to wonder if he will ever be anything more than an oft-injured gadget player. Watch this Kenyan Drake highlight video and tell me that he doesn't have potential to be an otherworldly player:
Based on what we saw in the Draft, the Dolphins are looking for explosive players on offense who fit the system new head coach Adam Gase has in mind for the team. Drake may be the exact fit Gase wanted. He has the speed to be a home-run hitter, and he can be moved all over the offense to create matchup problems. Drake may not be the every-down running back for Miami, but that should be filled by second-year runner Jay Ajayi. Drake has been compared to Reggie Bush, and that seems to be a perfect comparison; he may not be the Dolphins' version of Bush, but he can be the speed back coming into the game and the offense doing everything they can to put the ball in his hands and let him work.
The injury history, the fumble issues, and the lack of vision are all concerns, but Miami should be able to at least correct the latter two while hopefully the former turns out to be a blip on his career, and one he left in college. This was a great pick for Miami, even if he was not the running back people expected Miami to be trying to find.