The Dolphins have acquired players in free agency who are capable of reducing Kenyan Drake’s workload next season in future Hall of Fame running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Albert Wilson.
Gore will certainly get the bulk of the Dolphins’ residual carries not claimed by Drake and Albert Wilson will likely receive 10 to 15 carries throughout the season. However, Gase has promised that Miami will run the ball more and 2018, which means he will need more players in the backfield to give carries.
Conventional wisdom says Miami should find a young running back prospect to split carries between Drake and Gore, but finding a player who can man another position and split carries with Drake and Gore adds another dimension to the offense. Acquiring wide receivers, tight ends and fullbacks who can also carry the football provides an element of unpredictability that is difficult for opposing defenses to game plan for and Miami would be wise to do just that.
The Dolphins could’ve used tight end MarQueis Gray more as an H-back in 2017, but he carried the ball just five times last season. Gray is more of a tight end than he is H-back, but if Miami finds a true H-back in the draft capable of producing consistently in the run and passing game, it could take their offense to another level.
Here are three players in the 2018 NFL draft who fit the bill:
Ryan Nall – Oregon State
At 6-foot-2, 232 pounds, Nall has nimble feet and soft hands necessary to make the Dolphins’ offense multiple. Nall can make defenders miss in the hole as a running back and has the requisite athleticism to develop into a fine route runner. Placing him on the field at the same time as Drake on a consistent basis would give Miami the option to hand the ball off to three players on any given play. Unlike most H-backs, Nall has 4.5 speed, which would allow him to outrun players at the second level of a defense.
Jalen Samuels – North Carolina State
Samuels might not be able to contribute much as an inline blocker, but he could absolutely line up as a fullback or as a tailback. Samuels is well adept at running routes but needs time to develop as a runner, particularly inside zone. Samuels does have difficulty recognizing cutback lanes but if his read is clearly defined his athleticism will give him a chance to go the distance. He also has more than enough speed to beat linebackers consistently in the passing game.
Chris Warren III – Texas
Warren was set to transfer as his playing time was dramatically reduced in 2017. Warren contributed 229 yards and two touchdowns on 18 receptions in his final season at Texas and it has become abundantly clear that he is capable of fulfilling the role of H-back in the NFL. Warren is a capable receiver and blocker, but he’s also a natural runner. At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds he runs a 4.64 40-yard dash and he’d be wise to consider the switch to H-back where he could carve out a lengthy NFL career.