Time for another edition of The Phinsider 90-in-90 look in the Miami Dolphins’ roster. This annual series breaks down the players on Miami’s 90-man preseason roster one-by-one. It looks at how they performed in 2017, why they could progress or regress in 2018, and the odds that the player makes the team when the regular season arrives.
This year, we have already finished the reviews for wide receiver Leonte Carroo, punter Matt Haack, safety T.J. McDonald, running back Buddy Howell, wide receiver DeVante Parker, defensive end William Hayes, wide receiver Isaiah Ford, safety/cornerback Walt Aikens, defensive end Claudy Mathieu, linebacker Kiko Alonso, cornerback Xavien Howard, long snapper Lucas Gravelle, wide receiver Danny Amendola, tight end A.J. Derby, running back Frank Gore, defensive tackle Gabe Wright, wide receiver Kenny Stills, cornerback Tony Lippett, kicker Jason Sanders, kicker Greg Joseph, left tackle Laremy Tunsil, tight end Mike Gesicki, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, running back Kalen Ballage, wide receiver Jakeem Grant, tight end Durham Smythe, quarterback David Fales, wide receiver Albert Wilson, defensive tackle Akeem Spence, linebacker Chase Allen, defensive end Cameron Wake, running back Senorise Perry, and tight end MarQueis Gray, offensive lineman Ted Larsen, and defensive end Andre Branch. Today, we take a look at running back Kenyan Drake.
As a rookie in 2016, having been selected in the third round, Drake appeared in all 16 games, starting once, with 33 carries for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He entered 2017 as the presumed third option on the depth chart, behind 2016 breakout player Jay Ajayi and Damien Williams. Midway through the year, the Dolphins traded Ajayi, opening up the backfield to a combination of Williams and Drake, then saw Williams sustain a dislocated shoulder. For the season, Drake appeared in 16 games, starting six times, with 133 carries for 644 yards with three touchdowns, along with 32 receptions for 239 yards and another score. Over the final five weeks of the season, Drake led the NFL with 444 rushing yards, a stat he downplayed earlier this offseason as some of the other top running backs did not play in every game down the stretch, but still signifies that he has the ability to be that kind of dominant runner.
Why he will progress
Drake comes into the season as the starter and should be ready to continue the success he had at the end of last season. He comes in fresh after two years of serving as the backup, and he has a full understanding of the offense. The influence of Frank Gore, who the Dolphins signed in free agency this offseason, could also assist Drake in his growth as an NFL running back.
Why he might regress
This will be uncharted territory for Drake, who served as the backup to Derrick Henry at Alabama, so being asked to be the guy is not something he has done in recent years. He came out of college with injury concerns, part of what made him a backup over a starter, especially after a broken leg sidelined him for much of the 2014 season. If adding to his workload brings back those injury concerns, Drake could regress.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
Ajayi is gone and Gore, though still talented, is not the workhorse running back he used to be, while rookie Kalen Ballage could use time to develop. This running back group is Drake’s, and now he has to...run...with it for the season.