Running backs don’t normally warrant consideration for a team’s top draft pick often. Nor should they, as I’m in the camp that a back is not a high-end pick unless he’s exceptional and the missing piece on a contender.
But then again, most teams making this decision are doing so on Thursday night with their first round pick. Miami doesn’t have that problem, thanks to trading for superstar WR Tyreek Hill. The Dolphins do not pick until the third round with overall pick #102.
So, does running back merit consideration there? Although the Dolphins made two signings this offseason at the position, I’d still say it’s at least worth considering, especially when there’s a player of the ilk of Dameon Pierce potentially waiting there. (Yes, I can hear you IOL/LB stans pounding your keyboards right now.)
Pierce is built like a tank at 5’9”, 220 pounds, and he runs like it. Tough to tackle, he averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 48 games at Florida. However, he was grossly underused by Florida’s staff, only carrying the ball 329 times over 4 years, so he has tread left on the tires.
What I like about Pierce is that he’s built to run between the tackles at 220 pounds with a low center of gravity - and he certain can to that...but he might be at his best when he’s running off-tackle. He has good vision and seems to find the optimal path to open space. He was also involved in the passing game for his limited time on the field, catching 19 passes for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns last year. By comparison, UTSA’s heavily-used Sincere McCormick - another intriguing runner - carried 298 times last year while pulling in 22 catches for 184 yards.
He’s also more than capable of protecting Tua Tagovailoa:
Running backs who you can trust in pass-protection have never been more valuable in the NFL than they are today— Ryan Smith (@PFF_RyanSmith) February 3, 2022
Dameon Pierce (Florida) didn’t allow a pressure in 27 pass-blocking snaps in 2021, you can see why here #SeniorBowl pic.twitter.com/nnuzXsbsr5
The question remains: does a running back merit consideration when Miami just inked two backs and has other needs? Given who they’ve signed, I’d say it still does. Chase Edmonds was very effective in Arizona, but split carries with (and was the lightning to the thunder of) James Conner. Raheem Mostert - whose skills I absolutely love - has lacked the most important ability throughout his career: availability. Not to mention he’s on a one-year deal. Neither player seems to fill a long-term early down role.
Long story short, I think Pierce has the makeup and skillset to run smart, hard, and effectively in the NFL, as well as contribute on passing downs.
What do you think, Miami fans? Would you be happy with this selection, either at 102 or 125? Or are you writing off running back completely, given the reduced number of picks and other needs? Let’s hear it.