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Should Miami take an RB early in the 2019 NFL Draft?

by Terry Matthews  |  @Gridironalytics   |  Published November 21, 2018

Image Credit: Jack Kurzenknabe

Ajayi is more than a year gone. Frank Gore continues to age and, despite his superior play in 2018, isn’t someone who can be relied on longterm. And Drake, despite excellent flashes of what he’s capable of, really suffered behind a beat-up offensive line, and hasn’t nearly flattered as much in 2018 as he did in 2017.

Is all this then reason enough to spend a high pick on one of the better runningbacks coming out of college this year?

Yes and no.

Less than a season-and-a-half of production under his belt or not — Kenyan Drake illustrated he's more than capable of being Miami's feature 'back going forward. And a much better fit in Gase's offense than Ajayi was. With Drake's superior ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and a willingness to attend to his blocking responsibilities in pass plays, the second-year prospect possesses pretty much the full gamut of traits to excel as a runningback in Gase's system.

In other words, ample evidence that Miami could just continue with Drake and Gore as their one-two tandem out of the backfield rather than spend a high — and, in this narrative — unnecessary pick on a runningback.

However 2019 has some interesting prospects at runningback, at least one of whom would offer something like Saquon Barkley-esque upside right out of the box (we’re talking Bryce Love of Stanford by the way...)

Reasons FOR Spending a high pick on a RB in the 2019 NFL Draft:

  • With a relatively deep runningback class, it figures that one of the better RBs is likely to be available deep into the second- or perhaps even third-round, and therefore lots of value could be had taking one then;

  • Kenyan Drake has not lived up to expectations in 2018, and Miami still hasn’t seen how he performs under a full season workload (despite being drafted in 2016!);

  • Tannehill returning from a succession of major injuries may have curtailed his mobility, necessitating Miami lean on the run game more, ensuring a functioning run game is more than just a luxury but a deadcert necessity;

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Reasons AGAINST spending a high pick on a RB in the 2019 NFL Draft:

  • Miami have bigger needs than at runningback. One of their high round picks would be more wisely spent on the offensive line, edge rusher or quarterback;

  • Based on performance and statistics, Drake and Gore have proven to a large extent they're more than serviceable to execute the running attack Gase likes to run — they just need better blocking to maximise what they’re doing;

  • Value with the first-round pick. Miami simply would not get value spending a first-round pick on a runningback, especially based off the fact no runningback in the 2019 draft class is that much better than Kenyan Drake;


As strong as some of the FOR arguments are however, Miami can't really justify using a pick on a runningback considering the other needs on the roster. Selecting a runningback smacks of a luxury pick, however you want to frame things. This is a roster that’s much more than a running-back from seriously competing for an AFC East title — let alone a Super Bowl!

As previously mentioned, perhaps only Bryce Love appears a major upgrade over what Miami already has on the books, and that is probably unfair on Kenyan Drake, a 'back who's proven his skillset more than transfers to the pro game and is a fit in his head coach’s offense. However, if Love or one of the other top RB prospects is still there when Miami is making its second-round pick and they take him — it wouldn't be surprising. Not only has this front office illustrated in previous years that they have no problem with “taking-the-best-player-available” philosophy, but considering their run-game currently rests on the health of a player in his mid-30s, perhaps selecting a running-back early shouldn’t even be viewed as that much of a “surprise” — more pressing needs elsewhere on the roster or not.