The South Florida Sun Sentinels continue their 10-part series looking at top prospects in the upcoming NFL Draft (April 28-30). This year’s tailback class may not have a first-round pick, which is fine because the Miami Dolphins don’t have a first or second pick, for that matter. Despite the addition of Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostart to free agency, the Dolphins could potentially use the infusion of a young ball carrier with either one remaining in the middle or late rounds.
Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State
Walker led an all-Power-5 run in his one season at Michigan State after relocating from Wake Forest. He had 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns to help lead the Spartans to an 11–2 record and win over Pitt in the Peach Bowl.
The 5-9 1/4, 211-pound back has a phenomenal combination of speed (4.38-second 40-yard dash) and power, which was demonstrated when he played at Hard Rock Stadium last September and during the Miami Hurricanes. He had broken 20 tackles against him. According to Pro Football Focus, as part of their 89 on the season.
Iowa States Bryce Hall
When the run on running back is likely to start in the second round, the hall can also easily be taken first. He has an NFL-ready body at 5-11 1/4, 217 pounds, and he ran a 4.39-second 40 to boot.
Hall’s combined performances complemented his on-field production with Cyclone where he ran for 1,472 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has size, speed and explosion.
Isaiah Spiller of Texas A&M
Spiller has a nearly identical construction to Hall at 6-0, 217. In his three years as an SEC tailback, he consistently averaged around 5.5 yards-per-carry with nearly 1,000 yards per season. He was also good for over 20 catches from the backfield of each of those campaigns.
The teams stack the box against the Aggies in 2021, limiting his ability to break through for more production. His 4.55 40 indicates he doesn’t have that fast pace and can’t contribute as much on the third down.
James Cook of Georgia
The Miami Central High product certainly knows what it takes to find success at the NFL level with its older brother, Dalvin Cook, the Vikings. Cook was always part of the crowded Bulldog backfield, but he produced his most in 2021 on 113 carries with 728 yards and seven touchdowns.
He would bring speed to any team he drafted, but he weighed just under 200 pounds in the combine. Cook can also catch the ball from the backfield with 27 receptions for 284 yards and four touchdowns for the national champion.
Brian Robinson Jr. of Alabama.
Last season saw several times in Alabama where Robinson could easily have been confused with the Nazi Harris from a year earlier. His 225-pound frame wasn’t too far off from the mighty Harris, who is now a standout for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After receiving 1,343 yards and 14 touchdowns as well as 296 and two touchdowns, Robinson’s downhill running style would be coveted by a team looking for a big back to complement an already elusive on the roster.
the best of the rest
Florida’s Damon Pierce is also a physical sprinter with potential who may not have received as much attention if he achieved less than a 6-7 Gators team.
Cook’s backfield partner in Georgia, Zamir White, would be considered a 215-pound back, running a 4.4 40. Notre Dame’s Kieran Williams, BYU’s Tyler Allgier, FSU’s Jason Corbin, FIU’s D’Vont Price and Michigan’s Hasan Haskins are one. Killing others to keep an eye.
Class Grade: D-
However the running back position is not given as much importance in the previous memory as we have seen in the first round. This draft could be the first since 2014 not to go into the first round even once.
Still, standout running backs can be built in great conditions with the right planning and blocking up front, and have talent that can probably be found at a bargain where the top tailback is projected. The depth of the orbit is also not particularly different, but gems can always be found in this position.
Teams like the Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears or New York Jets can easily be seen trying to pick one of the top runners of the draft and drop him on their roster for immediate production.
The San Francisco 49ers, although he still managed the ball effectively after Mostart went under new Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel, when he was the offensive coordinator last season, may also be one of them.
With McDaniel’s out-zone planning and improvements made on the offensive line through the addition of left tackle Taron Armstead and guard Connor Williams, any running back brought to Miami will be happy to insert into this position.
The combination of free-agent signing Edmonds and Mostart, along with the return of Miles Gaskin, works as a solid tandem, but it’s still a backfield with no oligarchy. Without a pick in the first two rounds, the Dolphins are unlikely to snag the top tailback unless they are traded back in that second round, but the running back position is certainly a focus for Miami. This was thought of as a draft before signing and trading. Among those picks for receiver Tyrek Hill.
Another race to join the competition with Gaskins, Salvone Ahmed and Gerid Doux is a possibility, but it is no longer as desperately needed as it was at the start of the off-season. McDaniel also likes to spread the carry around, so no one should be overburdened in this backfield.
Miami Dolphins’ NFL Draft Alternatives: Quarterback