It’s no secret that the Dolphins will be looking to add running back or two this spring. Miami needs to do get much better production a lot of different areas out of their tailbacks. Currently the Dolphins have a couple of complimentary pieces at the position, but not a true go-to back. They also lack somebody who can be a threat out of the backfield, pass protect, and produce in short yardage situations.
Watching a lot of these running backs on tape, I was a little disappointed. As always, there will be mid and late round picks who come in right away and play well. I think the draft is weaker than it usually is at the top though.
Here is my early look at the draft’s top running backs.
1. Tre Mason, Auburn – I am always weary of running backs that come from SEC schools with dominant offensive line play, or very advanced systems. Mason comes from both. Auburn has a lot of NFL talent upfront, and dominated most teams they played at the line of scrimmage; Gus Malzahn’s unique blocking system also helped open up a lot of holes for Mason.
With that said, Mason has all the tools to be a very good player at the next level. There aren’t a lot of running backs that play with the confidence of Tre Mason. There is no wasted motion or steps when he’s running; he just GOES. Mason has a lot of lower body strength and runs low to the ground, allowing him to break a lot of tackles. He also has a nice burst and great feet. I like Mason a lot and expect him to be a quality starting tailback at the next level.
Grade: Early 2nd round
2. Lache Seastrunk, Baylor – Teams will have to do their due diligence when looking into Seastrunk’s background, as he’s probably the player with the most (supposed) baggage on this list. With that said, I love his tape. Lache has really good acceleration and is a former track star, showing it consistently on the field. He can get away from defenders at the second level and stay away from them in the open field. When he sees the field well, he explodes through the hole better than any back I’ve seen on tape this year. That said, he doesn’t always see it as well as you’d like.
He reminds me a lot of Gio Bernard, with a lot more power. Seastrunk looks like a smaller back, but doesn’t play like it, running angry and breaking a lot of tackles consistently. I think he has the tools to be good on all 3 downs and be an explosive playmaker. I’m also always drawn to player’s who didn’t get pounded in college, and Seastrunk comes into the NFL with a small amount of wear and tear on his body, having only accumulated 289 carries in two years of college football.
Grade: Mid-2nd round
3. Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona – For as much as I was attracted to Seastrunk because of the limited abuse he took in college, Carey is the opposite, carrying the football a whopping 652 times just in the last 2 seasons. As far as his game, Carey falls forward consistently, showing good power inside. He’s a physical player, also showing a lot of toughness in his blocking. He has nice vision and is a decisive runner, showing the ability to make quick, subtle cuts to get through openings. He doesn’t have great speed or big play ability, but he’s a consistent in-between the tackles runner who can also do the dirty work of the position well.
Grade: Early 3rd round
4. Bishop Sankey, Washington – Sankey is one of the more traditional backs coming out. He’s a good north-south runner who has nice burst through the hole and really good vision. He cuts decisively in the hole and runs downhill through it, breaking arm tackles consistently well. He has really good balance and does a nice job keeping his form out of cuts, not losing speed. Sankey does a nice job taking what’s available, but I’m not sure he’s a big play guy at the next level. He’s average in the open field, lacking top-end speed or great elusiveness. He won’t give you more than an average pass catcher out of the backfield and needs to improve his pass protection. For me, he’s not a player you give 3rd down duties to early on and I think his lack of special traits leads me to think he’s a “1b” in a good two-back system.
Grade: Early 3rd round
5. Charles Sims, West Virginia – I view Sims as more of a 3rd down back and complimentary piece at the next level, but a very good one. A lot of people compare him to Matt Forte, and I think a lot of that comparison is accurate. For me, he doesn’t run with the same power and explosiveness through the hole that Forte is able to run with, but he does have a lot of similar qualities. Sims has tremendous feet and good acceleration; he lacks elite top-end speed, but gets up to speed quickly and has enough to get to the edge. He’s tremendous in the open field and can make people miss with ease, it seems. He catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield, and I expect him to see plenty of time split out wide in the NFL. Sims also has nice size and isn’t a soft tailback, despite not running with a lot of authority in-between the tackles; he pass protects really well, which is another positive aspect of his 3rd down game.
Grade: Mid 3rd round
6. Carlos Hyde, Ohio State – Hyde is viewed as the premier “power back” in this class. For me to take one high though, I need him to be elite. I don’t see Hyde as elite, but he does have good power inside and nice feet to compliment it. I’m just not sure I see somebody who has enough explosiveness to be anything more than a complimentary piece and role player at the next level. With that said, having a tailback who can be money in short yardage and goal line situations is very valuable, and like I said, Hyde does have nice feet and I think can be a better threat out of the backfield then most his size would be.
Grade: Mid-late 3rd round
Later on in the process a more in-depth look at the class will be taken. For right now though, those are my Day 1 and Day 2 caliber tailbacks in this class.