NFL Rumor Central: Dolphins targeting Ezekiel Elliott?

Ohio State Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott celebrates with offensive lineman Chase Farris after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Since losing Lamar Miller to the Houston Texans, the Miami Dolphins have not been shy about pursuing running backs in free agency. They signed Denver Broncos restricted free agent C.J. Anderson to an offer sheet (Denver matched) and visited with Chris Johnson, who took less money to stay with the Arizona Cardinals. Now, after missing out on the top available options, Miami could be turning to the draft to address the position.

Jason Cole of Bleacher Report hears the Dolphins "may think very strongly" about drafting Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott with the No. 13 overall pick in April's draft. Cole adds that new head coach Adam Gase wants a runner who thrives in stretch plays with the ability to cut back against the grain.

With his all-around skill set, Elliott would certainly fit the bill, but that doesn't mean taking a running back early is necessarily the best idea. Many unknown prospects have emerged to thrive in zone-based, stretch schemes over the years, from late-round picks to undrafted free agents. As good as Elliott is, the Dolphins might be better served waiting until later to find a back and filling a different hole in Round 1.

It's also a little jarring to see such urgency to find a new back just a year after drafting Jay Ajayi out of Boise State. Injury concerns pushed Ajayi to the fifth round, but until those worries cropped up, he was considered one of the most complete running backs in the draft, grading as a likely second- or third-round pick. Based on the scheme Ajayi played in during college, he should be more than capable of pressing the edge on stretch runs and hitting back-side cut lanes.

To be fair, Ajayi got off to a slow start as a rookie, and the Dolphins' interest in other running backs suggests they're not too high on him at the moment. Even so, looking for a solution in Round 1 might be a bit too aggressive.