Monday, March 17, 2014
Updating the Dolphins' tailback options
By James Walker
The Miami Dolphins have addressed several needs in free agency, such as left tackle, safety and cornerback. However, the tailback position remains up in the air after Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas failed to get the job done last season.
How will the Dolphins address their 26th-ranked running game? Here are several options:
1. Maurice Jones-Drew
Pros: Jones-Drew is a proven veteran who still may have something left in the tank. He rushed for 803 yards last season on an awful Jacksonville Jaguars team. There’s a good chance Jones-Drew could put up stronger numbers with a better team if he can stay healthy.
Cons: Jones-Drew’s best years are behind him. He’s 29 and averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry last season. Jones-Drew is at the stage where many running backs hit the wall. Signing him would only be a short-term fix.
2. LeGarrette Blount
Pros: Blount, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a connection to general manager Dennis Hickey. He is a power runner the Dolphins lack and could fill a need. Signing Blount also would take something away from the New England Patriots, who are the favorites once again to win the AFC East.
Cons: Blount had a strong year but most likely was a product of New England’s system. Blount rushed for 772 yards and seven touchdowns. But it’s a lot easier to run when future Hall of Famer Tom Brady is the quarterback. The passing threat of Brady created plenty of open rushing lanes for Blount.
3. Knowshon Moreno
Pros: Moreno is coming off a career year where he rushed for 1,038 yards. He just completed his rookie contract and doesn’t have a lot of tread on the tires. He also has winning experience after playing in the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos.
Cons: Moreno is not a feature back. Similar to Blount, much of his success was a result of open running lanes created by the threat of future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and the passing attack. Moreno never lived up to his potential of being a former first-round draft pick and is only a complementary piece to the puzzle. That’s not what the Dolphins are looking for. Miami already has two complementary tailbacks in Miller and Thomas.
4. NFL draft
Pros: There is a chance for good value at tailback in this draft, which is what the Dolphins like. Miami won’t draft a running back in the first round because of bigger needs. But the second- and third-round options are solid. Names like Carlos Hyde, Tre Mason and Bishop Sankey come to mind for the Dolphins.
Cons: There are no stars or guaranteed fixes in this draft. No running back is projected to go in the first round. The Dolphins would have more youth and inexperience at this position if they addressed it via the draft. Miller and Thomas are young and unproven, as well.