The Miami Dolphins made waves before the NFL trade deadline by dealing Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round draft pick. Filling the void left behind will be a cumbersome task for Miami, as Ajayi was a major part—138 carries to be exact—of coach Adam Gase’s offense this season.
To get more insight on who will help fill Ajayi’s shoes, we asked three contributors from The Phinsider to share their opinions on the running back situation for the Dolphins.
Steve Dewald (@SteveDHoops): Kenyan Drake’s third-round pedigree certainly suggests that he is next in line to be Miami’s feature running back, but I have some doubts about the second-year man from Alabama. Instead, I prefer Damien Williams’ chances. Williams has shown he is committed to doing the little things well—like pass protection, as well as being a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. Along with his skills on the field, Williams’ has a history of being able to handle a large workload. In his two-year stint with Oklahoma, Williams carried the ball a combined 290 times. Drake on the other hand, only had 233 carries to his credit after four years at Alabama.
Justin Hier: In my eyes, there are two viable candidates here. Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams are the only two running backs on Miami’s roster who have seen any valuable playing time with the team over the past two years, and I doubt the coaching staff/front office will bring someone in off the street who would surpass either. I see Drake getting the bulk of the workload that Ajayi left as he is the more explosive player and someone who Gase has talked up in the past. That being said, Williams will definitely be involved, particularly on passing downs for both pass protection and receiving purposes.
Robert Molnar (@RMolnar1010): Replacing Jay Ajayi will not be a one man job. However, I do firmly believe that Kenyan Drake will be considered the number one running back going forward. Possessing an explosiveness that cannot be taught, Drake just has big play potential every time he touches the ball. Adding to this, Drake is also a Adam Gase draft pick, something he shares with no other running back on the roster. That said, Drake will not be able to do it all by himself. Look for Damien Williams to see a significant amount of snaps on offense while De’Veon Smith could potentially be promoted from the practice squad and feature as the Dolphins short yardage and goal line back.
What do you expect from the Dolphins’ running backs for the rest of the 2017 season? Tell us your predictions in the comments below.