The Miami Dolphins rebuild has begun to take a turn for the worst. After starting the 2016 offseason with a bang, (completing a blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, and signing Mario Williams to a 2-year/$8 million deal) The momentum in Miami has grown stagnant, and the lack of signing a starting running back has left the Dolphins’ 26th ranked offense in limbo.
Lamar Miller, CJ Anderson, Chris Johnson, and most recently James Starks are now long out of the picture, and after firing miss-after-miss, the once potent (but underutilized) running game of the Miami Dolphins’ is now at a completely standstill. So who can the Dolphins’ still take?
Remember that 8th overall draft pick?
Well that is also long gone, along with the possiblity of Miami selecting running back Ezekiel Elliott of Ohio State, who most analyst are now projecting within the top-10. Time to scratch off “Plan-D”.
Plan-E: Don’t Panic. Try and Stay Calm!
With the free-agent running backs available beginning to dwindle down to the nitty gritty, five solid candidates stand-out as suitors for the Miami Dolphins
(Ronnie Hillman, Arian Foster, Reggie Bush, Alfred Morris, LeGarrette Blount) with one seeming to be a clear-cut choice: Ronnie Hillman.
Hillman, 24, a former third-round pick out of San Diego State, has spent his entire career with the Denver Broncos.
Most notability Hillman had a career-high 863 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015.
Why Hillman fits in Miami:
If the Dolphins’ front office truly believe former fifth-round RB Jay Ajayi is capable of becoming a three-down back, then build around him! Adding Ronnie Hillman and his particular set of skills provides head coach Adam Gase with a burst of speed, change of pace back, who could very easily compete for the starting job, much like Hillman did last season in Denver.
Adam Gase has a long-running history of using multiple running backs throughout his offense. Pairing Ajayi, Hillman, and Damien Williams not only gives the first year coach a sense of familiarity (Gase was Hillman’s coach in 2014) but also an upgraded blocker from the struggling Ajayi.
Hillman who ran zone blocking for two seasons at San Diego State looked excellent within Gary Kubiak’s 3-Zone System. His small frame and quickness make him hard to spot, and one-on-one Hillman can easily out-speed his opponent inside or out.
In comparing CJ Anderson who is now a top-10 highest paid running back in the NFL for 2016, to Hillman who is projected at $2-4 million per season, their numbers are very comparable. According to the Denver Broncos, Anderson finished with 4.63 yards per carry — 0.79 yards more than Hillman — and 4.90 yards per touch, 0.98 yards greater than Hillman.
For the Miami Dolphins adding an experienced and cap-friendly running back like Ronnie Hillman not only allows the team to evaluate Jay Ajayi as a featured running back, but also gives Adam Gase a change of pace back he knows fits into his system of offense. The clock is ticking for the Dolphins so they must act fast.