The NFL calendar is creeping its way through May. While the teams are all conducting their offseason training program, Organized Team Activities and mandatory minicamps have not started yet. The teams, however, have a fairly complete roster, with most of the players destined for the 53-man regular-season roster currently signed. There will be some changes, between adding some veteran free agents to churning the bottom of the roster, and some of those players will move from the 90-man offseason roster to the regular-season roster.
Today, the roster-breakdown series here on The Phinsider continues with a look at the running backs on the roster, and how the in-season depth chart could look when the calendar finally moves from May to September. Previous roster breakdowns have included the quarterbacks in part one and the defensive ends in part two.
Jay Ajayi - 2nd year
Kenyan Drake - Rookie (3rd round pick)
Ajayi will be the starting running back, and while Drake will not necessarily be a "starter," he is listed here as the top of the depth chart and the main compliment to Ajayi. The Dolphins spent much of the offseason looking for a veteran running back to replace Lamar Miller, who left via free agency and signed with the Houston Texans, nearly landing C.J. Anderson, but the Denver Broncos matched the restricted free agent offer from the Dolphins. Ajayi was a fifth-round pick for the Dolphins last year, but was considered a much higher talent if not for a knee that had been described as "bone-on-bone;" he looked good in limited action last year after recovering from a broken rib suffered in the preseason and dealing with the limited carries that existed in the Miami offense last year. Drake should be able to pick up carries throughout the year as head coach Adam Gase's offense looks to be more of a "running back by committee" style than based on a single "workhorse." Drake has outstanding speed and he is a good pass catching running back out of the backfield.
Damien Williams - 3rd year
Williams should be in the running back rotation, and he has looked good at times in the previous Preseasons, but he has not been able to get may touches in the regular season (52 carries for 181 yards, 42 receptions for 329 yards, 2 touchdowns in two seasons). He could move ahead of Drake if the rookie struggles to adapt to the NFL's speed.
Daniel Thomas - 6th year
Isaiah Pead - 5th year
One of these two will likely make the roster, unless Miami adds another running back. Thomas could have a slight edge early in the competition, based on his pass blocking and experience, both of which the running back group can use this year. A second-round pick of the Dolphins in 2011, Thomas has been on-and-off the Dolphins roster several times over the past couple of years, had a brief training camp stint with the Chicago Bears last year, and sat out the year in 2015. Pead was a second-round pick for the St. Louis Rams in 2012, but never reached the expectations of the Rams. He missed the entire 2014 season due to an ACL tear sustained in the Preseason, and he appeared in a total of just 27 games for St. Louis, tallying 19 carries for 78 yards and 14 receptions for 94 yards, before being released during the 2015 season. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but was released three weeks later without making an appearance.
Thomas gets the nod to make the roster at this point, but Pead could unseat him from that position once training camp opens.
53-man roster prediction (11/53)
Running back (4)
Cleyon Laing - defensive end
Isaiah Pead - running back
Practice squad (2/10)
Brandon Doughty (rookie) - Quarterback
Farrington Huguenin (rookie)- Defensive end