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Heading into the draft, the Miami Dolphins have the fewest number of draft picks of any team in the NFL, as they’ll only make four selections.
Despite signing Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds at the start of the free agency period, Miami has been looking at running backs during this pre-draft process. There’s a very real chance that general manager Chris Grier and the rest of the team decision-makers opt to use one of their selections on a back.
The Dolphins may not have a draft pick in every round, but because they could obviously trade up, these are seven running backs that they could consider drafting, one in each round.
First round - Breece Hall, Iowa State
Mandatory Credit: Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
There probably won’t be a first-round running back selected this year, but if there were to be one, it would be Hall. In Hall’s three seasons with the Cyclones, he rushed for 3,941 yards and 50 touchdowns on 5.5 yards per attempt while adding 82 receptions for 734 yards and six touchdowns in the receiving game.
Here’s what NFL analyst Lance Zierlein said about Hall:
“Will give NFL evaluators early starter vibes with his blend of size, power and creativity. Hall isn’t very sudden in tight quarters but gets better as the run play progresses with good vision and an above-average sense for how to beat second-level tacklers. He has surprising build-up speed once he’s in the open field but might not have the instant gas to become a plus outside runner. His running style is willful when it needs to be and he’s adept at moving the chains on ‘got to have it’ short-yardage carries. Hall has full-package, three-down talent with surprisingly soft hands out of the backfield and should find early touches as a Day 2 draft pick with above-average potential.”
Second round - Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Ignoring the absolutely horrendous jerseys that Walker rocked in this picture, he was a productive back who got more efficient in 2021 when he made the jump from Wake Forest to Michigan State despite getting more than double the attempts.
In his collegiate career, Walker rushed for 2,794 yards and 35 touchdowns on 5.8 yards per attempt.
Here’s what Zierlein said about Walker:
“Walker is a compact back with a very powerful, sturdy base. He can find his own yards with twitchy directional change when run-blocking breaks down and possesses plus-rated contact balance to add on to his yardage throughout the game. Walker is a very determined runner who is more reactive than instinctive, which leads to wild shifts in his rush track. He can handle RB1 workload in terms of carries but needs work as a third-down option. Walker would benefit from better rush-track discipline, but his explosiveness and unpredictable style should still lead to success as a future starter.”
Third round - Isaiah Spiller, Texas A&M
Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Spiller played three seasons with the Aggies, putting up consistent numbers in each season. During his career, he totaled 2,993 yards and 25 touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry while catching 74 passes for 585 yards and a touchdown.
Here’s what Zierlein said about Spiller:
“Volume-carry running back with good size and talent for starting consideration as a pro. He was slowed, at times, by inconsistent run blocking but was still productive and consistent for much of the 2021 season. He has interior vision and loose hips, allowing him to locate and get to run lanes regardless of traffic. Spiller runs with good elusiveness but stays in that mode a little too long, which can affect his ability to finish with authority. He’s a solid back but not overly dynamic and lacks the desired third-down value right now.”
Fourth round - James Cook, Georgia
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Being from the Miami area, Cook got a chance to meet with the Dolphins already, giving him an inside edge over some other backs. His numbers, in totality, don’t jump off the page, but his efficiency does. In four seasons, he rushed for 1,503 yards and 14 touchdowns on an insane 6.5 yards per attempt. He also added 67 receptions for 730 yards and six touchdowns in the receiving game.
Here’s what Zierlein said about Cook:
“Change-of-pace runner with vision and flow but a lack of functional play strength. The younger brother of Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, James has his brother’s one-cut talent and ability to stack cuts seamlessly through the second level. However, he is missing his big brother’s build, contact balance and toughness between the tackles, which will surely cap expectations and asks from an NFL club. His slashing style fits with outside zone and toss plays. He can also be used as a mismatch option as a pass-catcher. Cook has big-play ability but is unlikely to see his carry count get very high.”
Fifth round - Zamir White, Georgia
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
As Cook’s backfield mate, White’s numbers were still impressive. In three seasons, he recorded 2,043 yards and 25 touchdowns on 5.3 yards per carry. He could provide the Dolphins with a skill set that they don’t really have in their stable of backs.
Here’s what Zierlein said about White:
“White is a naturally powerful runner with a lower half that is hard to knock off-balance no matter how clean the shot. He’s not very dynamic as a runner but is a two-way creator with lateral jump-cuts to avoid tackles and the power to run through them. He’s a wide-base runner who should excel in gap and inside zone schemes but his running style might not lend itself to a long career. He has two ACL tears in his background and is unlikely to play on passing downs, but he’s a formidable ‘thunder’ back waiting to be paired with a ‘lightning’ cohort and will give running games a chance to test the resolve of defenses for four full quarters.”
Sixth round - Abram Smith, Baylor
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Smith spent three seasons at Baylor but really only got an opportunity to start this past year. In 2021, Smith rushed for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns on 6.2 yards per attempt.
Here’s what Zierlein said about Smith:
“Big, tough prospect who went from running back to linebacker and then back to running back during his collegiate career. Smith proved a formidable fit in Baylor’s zone scheme with a patient but decisive approach and a natural feel for cutback lanes. He became more comfortable in stretch plays as the season wore on but his average burst and linear running style make it easier for linebackers to find him. He has adequate contact balance and gives as good as he gets as a run finisher. Smith’s lack of short-area creativity could make him zone-dependent, but he’s a natural in that scheme. He has the upside to become a committee back with three-down potential.”
Seventh round - Tyrion Davis-Price, LSU
Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt/AP Photo
Like Cook, the Dolphins have also already gotten an up-close look at Davis-Price. In his three seasons as a Tiger, Davis-Price put up 1,744 yards and 15 touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry.
Here’s what Zierlein said about Davis-Price:
“Big, athletic back offering an enticing blend of size and explosiveness to go with an SEC pedigree. Davis-Price’s early season tape was listless and lacking pro quality, but that changed over the second half of the year. He’s an enigmatic back featuring urgency, indecisiveness, physicality and finesse on any given carry. He got much better as the season progressed and clearly finds a rhythm when given volume carries. Scouts say that staying motivated will be a major factor in future success. Davis-Price’s athletic ability and hammerhead finishes will help him create yardage. He has the size and upside worthy of consideration in the middle rounds.”