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Dolphins Position Battle Breakdown And Analysis: Running Back

Since 2002, the Miami Dolphins have only made the playoffs twice, with the most recent appearance coming in 2016. The Dolphins recorded two straight winning seasons but just missed the postseason both times. Miami looks to be heading in a different direction this season, and the futures odds reflect this as well, as Mike McDaniel was named head coach in February and traded for Tyreek Hill.

The Dolphins are also getting a complete makeover in the running back room, signing Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel this offseason. The other new addition to the team is rookie ZaQuandre White, who signed as an undrafted free agent.

The mainstays from last year are Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, and Gerrid Doaks. Gaskin started 10 games for the Dolphins last season, and Doaks was on the practice squad after being drafted in the seventh round in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Miami ranked toward the bottom of the NFL in every rushing category: 18th in attempts (442), 30th in yards (1,568), 24th in rushing touchdowns (12), 31st in yards per carry (3.5), 30th in yards per game (92.2), and their longest rush was 30 yards, good for last in the league.

The last time the Dolphins had a 1,000-yard rusher was Jay Ajayi in 2016. So, if the Dolphins want to make it back to the playoffs, they’ll look to have a complete and all-around offense, which means finding the right running back for the job. 

Dolphins Position Showdown

Running Back Battle

Miami currently has seven running backs on the roster, with three veterans signing this offseason. The team won’t be keeping all seven, and it’s hard to imagine the three new signings will be leaving the team. Let’s see how the depth chart battle plays out.

The Newcomers

Edmonds is the frontrunner to be the starter in Miami after signing a two-year deal this offseason. 2021 was the best year of Edmonds’ career, becoming the full-time starter in Arizona over newly signed James Conner. In 11 starts, he had 592 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Edmonds also had 43 catches for 311 yards.

Even though Edmonds had the best year of his career, there were still some low points. He missed four games due to an ankle injury and was held to just 28 yards in the Cardinals’ playoff loss. He only broke 100 yards once, and Arizona elected to have Conner run the ball in goal-line situations, as he had 12 touchdowns within 10 yards.

Mostert poses as the most intriguing running back on the roster. In 2021, he suffered a knee injury in Week 1 that caused him to miss the rest of the season.

In 2020, his first season as the starter, he missed eight games due to injury. Mostert has landed on the IR in four of the last five seasons, with 2019 being the only time he played a full 16 games in his career.

So, let’s look at his last fully healthy season. Mostert ran the ball 137 times for 772 yards and eight touchdowns and had 14 catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns.

Even though he didn’t start a single game, he led the team in attempts, yards, and touchdowns and led all running backs in yards per carry with 5.6. Mostert also shined in San Francisco’s Super Bowl run, finishing with 53 carries for 336 yards and five touchdowns.

The third veteran to sign with the Dolphins is Michel, who most recently won a Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams. He was the second or third back on the roster but started the last six games of the season when the Rams were plagued with injuries.

He finished the season with 208 carries for 845 yards and four touchdowns. Those six starts accounted for 129 attempts, 540 yards, and three touchdowns.

The three veterans aren’t the only newcomers, as White comes to Miami as an undrafted free agent. White began his career at Florida State before transferring to South Carolina for the final two years of his collegiate career.

In 2021, he ran the ball 8 times for 583 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. White also finished with 19 catches for 202 yards and three touchdowns.

The Returning Backs

The running backs on the roster last year are Gaskin, Ahmed, and Doaks. Gaskin and Ahmed were on the active roster, while Doaks was on the practice squad.

Gaskin was drafted in the seventh round by the Dolphins in 2019, and eventually worked his way to becoming the starter last year. He finished the year with 173 carries for 612 yards and three touchdowns while pulling in 49 balls through the air for 234 yards and four touchdowns.

Gaskin was versatile for Miami last year but averaged 3.5 yards per carry on a team that struggled to run the ball.

Ahmed was a backup on the roster the entire season and never finished with more than eight carries or two catches in a game. He ended the year with 149 yards and no touchdowns with 117 receiving yards but was inactive for the season’s final four games.

Doaks was drafted in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft by Miami. During his collegiate career at Cincinnati, he had 331 carries for 1,712 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Doaks also had 21 catches for 198 yards and three touchdowns.

The Final Verdict

The Game Day’s Position Battle Prediction: The Dolphins signed Edmonds, Mostert, and Michel in the offseason, with Edmonds signing the longest deal, so he looks to become the starter in Miami. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mostert emerges as the best back on the roster and takes over the job. Michel will fill in as the third back on the roster.

Gaskin is a talented running back who the Dolphins could keep on the roster in case anyone gets injured or as a trade chip. Ahmed regressed in his second season with the team, which won’t help his stock. The Dolphins might elect to go with White, a talented rookie, to be on the practice squad over Ahmed and Doaks.

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