Winning competitions is the name of the game in the NFL, and the 2016 Miami Dolphins training camp will be no different. This is the fifth installment of the "Training Camp Battle" series, and it will look at players that will be vying for starting positions or winning a role competition. I will provide links to the older installments as we move forward.
Kenyan Drake vs. Damien Williams isn't so much a battle about starting as it is a battle for snaps. By my estimation, both RB's would serve a similar niche in the Dolphins offense. Will they divvy snaps (perhaps Williams getting more snaps early and Drake taking on more as he gets comfortable at the speed of the NFL) or will one have a more established role than the other throughout?
Why Kenyan Drake Will Win:
We need playmakers on offense, and Drake demonstrated game-breaking ability at the college level. The Miami Dolphins front office invested a 3rd round pick on Kenyan Drake, and his perceived value to the organization must be seen in the context of the eventual trade we would make to select Leonte Carroo. We really wanted a RB, and we weren't willing to wait on him. It wasn't as if the Dolphins were opposed to using future draft capital to take a player we coveted.
He is the Matt Cassel of running backs, in the sense that he backed up players in college throughout his career. This shouldn't be seen as a knock, but rather as the reduced load he received despite demonstrating playmaking potential. He had some injuries, but broken bones don't necessarily scare me as much as ligaments and tendons. Drake shows more quick twitch and agility than Damien Williams, and seems more likely to serve the niche with more explosiveness and big-play potential.
Why Damien Williams Will Win:
Omar Kelly's current man crush. The fact is, he's going into his 3rd year and has played some of the best defenses in football. He's returned kicks, caught passes out of the backfield, scored a couple of TD's, and made a couple of timely plays in his first two years as a Miami Dolphin. As an undrafted player who has stuck on a roster for a couple of years, an investment in Drake may cultivate a chip on his shoulder and churn his desire to compete.
Williams is a little bit denser than Drake, being a little bit shorter (2 inches) and little bit heavier (11 pounds). Despite not worrying about Drake's injury history, it may still be nonetheless true that Williams' body can withstand the rigors of an NFL season better. It might take Drake's body a year to combine the power and speed necessary to fulfill the niche in the offense, and be able to stay on the field.
Williams having his return duties likely stripped from him will allow him to focus more on being a running back. Not to mention, he will likely have much more expertise being a pass blocker.
To be quite clear, both running backs fumbling concerns me, as Drake had one of the worst fumble rates among draftees, and Williams put the ball on the turf twice in 37 touches in 2015 - (Williams was clean in 2014). I see Drake as a better pass catcher, and Williams as an ever-so-slightly better runner, as I think he's more likely to be able to run between the tackles (Ajayi can't be the only one to do it!). Their niche appears to be the 8-15 touch range, dominated by 3rd down, draws/screens, and getting singled on LB's and S's in the pass game.
The intriguing part of this battle is that they're essentially battling for 1 niche in the offense, and it's hard to tell if it's feast-or-famine or "3rd down by committee" when it comes to how the snaps will be dispersed. By the end of the year, I'm very curious who received more snaps as the RB #2 for the 2016 Miami Dolphins.
SUTTON's Probability: Drake 60%/Williams 40%
At the end of the day, this particular niche in the offense is about making plays, and Drake likely gives us the best chance to do that - he appears to have a better ability with the ball in space. The snap count will depend on health, obviously, but it might come down to who has the best ball security.
Let me know your thoughts in the Comments Section! Phins Up and a middle finger salute to all your stessors from the SUTTON family!