The Dolphins began the offseason without a running back under contract.
But what happens if a running back the Dolphins like is unexpectedly on the board when they make their first pick of this draft, at No. 51 in Round 2? Especially if that back is Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs?
“Certainly, he would make sense,” ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said Wednesday during a conference call with reporters.
It would be a surprise, but not a huge one. While some project Gibbs to go earlier in Round 2, Pro Football Focus, for example, rates Gibbs as the 50th-best prospect regardless of position.
The player PFF compares Gibbs to? Mostert.
Gibbs is a 5-foot-9, 199-pounder from Dalton, Ga., whom NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein rates as “will eventually be a plus starter” in the NFL.
Gibbs ran a 4.36 in the 40, which helps explain the Mostert comparison. He began at Georgia Tech but transferred last year and was second-team All-SEC with 926 yards, a 6.1 average and seven touchdowns in 12 games. He also led the Crimson Tide with 44 receptions for 444 yards and three TDs. He averaged 19.8 yards on kickoff returns.
Zierlein’s analysis suggests Gibbs might be a fit for coach Mike McDaniel’s wide-zone scheme.
“While Gibbs might not be the engine of an NFL running game, he’s more than capable of adding juice to the offense,” Zierlein wrote. “He’s a slasher who can stretch defenses wide, and he has the wiggle to elude tacklers in space. However, he could see his effectiveness diminished inside. Gibbs might be better off with a more measured carry count as an RB2, but his versatility and pass-catching prowess will give creative play-callers an opportunity to exploit certain personnel groupings and find mismatches in space.”
Kiper called Gibbs a “dynamic game-breaker” but added that if the Dolphins are determined to improve their backfield, he’s not the only option, even in subsequent rounds.
“I love DeWayne McBride at UAB in the fourth-round area,” Kiper said. “I like Tyjae Spears from Tulane in the third- or fourth-round area, Israel Abanikanda from Pitt in the fourth-round area and then Sean Tucker from Syracuse in the sixth- or seventh-round area.
‘So I think throughout the whole draft, we’re going to be talking about running backs who are really good players that maybe should go a couple of rounds earlier.”
That’s part of a trend, Kiper added, citing the great value of Kansas City landing Isiah Pacheco of Rutgers in the seventh round last year. Pacheco had 830 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season, then added 197 yards and a TD in the Chiefs’ postseason title run.
“That’s the one position where you can look at the grade of a player and say, ‘Boy, he was graded out as the 55th-best player. We got him at 102,’ ” Kiper said.
2023 NFL Draft
Union Station, Kansas City, Mo.
Dolphins draft: Round 2, pick 51; Round 3, pick 85; Round 6, pick 199; Round 7, pick 240 (draft order subject to trades)
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: ESPN's Mel Kiper: Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs ‘would make sense' for Dolphins