Running backs may be a dime a dozen, but it’s better to spend your hard-earned silver on a veteran running back than it is an offensive lineman.
The era in which stellar running backs operated as the focal point of the offense no longer exists, and for the past decade we’ve been evolving more and more into a pass-happy league.
This doesn’t necessarily dwindle the importance of the running back position, as the Super Bowl should remind us; you still need someone to take pressure off of your starting quarterback. But just how important is a “dying” position compared to the players that protect your most-prized asset up front?
In theory, teams should spend all of their money on the offensive line and save their running backs for the bottom-half of the draft. Damien Williams of the Kansas City Chiefs and Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers – both one-time Miami Dolphins in 2015 – showed you that undrafted running backs can help carry top-tier quarterbacks to a Super Bowl.
This Super Bowl is the battle of undrafted RBs.
◾️Cut six times
◾️Seven teams in two years
◾️NFL’s most efficient RB
▫️Tendered at lowest level in 2017
▫️Signed as 4th-stringer
▫️8 TDs in four KC playoff games
Only needed a shot. pic.twitter.com/PcJKduBg8x
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) February 2, 2020
In fact, great offensive lines further enhance the production you receive out of your running back. Just ask Ezekiel Elliot or someone like Darren McFadden who received nice contracts running behind dominant offensive lines.
But I’m here to tell you why it’s better for the Miami Dolphins to draft their offensive linemen and use their cap space on a veteran running back in free agency.
The Value of a Position
Running backs may be the sexier position, but that’s only because they have a highlight reel to accompany their career. If you were to judge power and influence by the amount of money circulating, you would be wise to look at the big guys up front.
In 2019, not a single running back cost their team more than $10m in salary cap space. If you were to look at the top-5 offensive lineman at each position last season (25 total), only 8 of them cost less than $10m against the cap.
General managers and head coaches recognize the importance of protecting their backfield, and it’s evident that the Dolphins are going to have to spend immensely if they want to patch their offensive line.
If the strategy is to save money elsewhere and spend on offensive linemen, the team is going to have plenty of open holes. While I understand that you don’t want to “overpay” for a running back, you’re going to find yourself grossly paying for one unit to be sufficient, while negating the rest of your team.
By paying a veteran running back anywhere from $5-7m, you’ve now addressed a position of need and saved your draft picks for young, cheap offensive linemen.
According to OverTheCap.com’s 2020 draft projections, the player the Dolphins select with the Pittsburgh Steelers pick (#18) is slated to make $2.71m next season. The player Miami selects with the Houston Texans 26th-overall selection is expected to make $2.44m.
Utilizing basic math, drafting a running back in either slot means he’ll already make 1/3 of what the top running backs are earning, whereas, if you draft an offensive linemen, he’ll only be making about 20% of what top linemen are currently making.
As nice as it would be to have a great college running back compliment a great college quarterback, it may not be the wisest. For teams to ensure they’re maximizing every dollar, they need to take advantage of the cheap talent that’s coming through the NFL draft.
Whether the player is Melvin Gordon, David Johnson, Derrick Henry, Lamar Miller or even someone like Todd Gurley, there are certain intangibles veterans bring that rookies still need to learn.
For one, veterans process the game much quicker than rookies do. As new draft picks are still trying to fit in, learn their way around the league, not step on anyone’s toes, and frankly just survive their first year, there’s a lot on a rookie’s plate from the time they finish their college season to the end of their first year.
Similar to why Miami wants to retain Ryan Fitzpatrick in a mentoring role, this young Dolphins team can use some more leadership in the huddle and on the sidelines. Having a running back come off the field and help his team identify defensive schemes and tactics is immeasurable.
Now, should all of these intangibles force a team to spend heavily on a running back? Not necessarily. You can be wild, but you can’t be dumb.
When the New York Jets paid Le’Veon Bell $52m at the age of 27, that was a dumb move.
When the Los Angeles Rams gave in and paid Todd Gurley $60m while flirting with knee trouble, that was a dumb move.
Todd Gurley must have all of a sudden lost all the stuff that made him great or they are lying about his injury…. Ain’t no way a $65 M player missed this many snaps in the Super Bowl!
— Ryan Clark (@Realrclark25) February 4, 2019
When the Los Angeles Chargers refrained from giving in and didn’t pay Melvin Gordon during his holdout last season, it turned out to be a great move for them and Austin Ekeler.
The idea here isn’t to overpay for a running back that used to be a recognizable name, it’s spending just enough to ensure you have one of the better options in the NFL.
The thing is, paying for an over-the-hill running back that provides additional, outside benefits may be more beneficial than splurging on someone like Billy Turner, who was paid like a top-10 left guard last year by the Green Bay Packers.
This debate isn’t about maximizing a running back’s value as much as it is balancing the bill for your offensive line with the money you need to spend elsewhere.
Believe me, I would like the Miami Dolphins to protect their future quarterback as much as the next fan. But I don’t want to see them ruin their roster to accomplish it. Buy that running back….you can always build an offensive line.
Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track
This may be the last thing on the mind of Miami Dolphins fans everywhere, but there seems to be a prominent legal battle taking place in South Florida.
A new Formula 1 race track was recently approved (by a 6-6 vote) to be “built” around Hard Rock Stadium, with races beginning in 2021.
The F1 Miami Grand Prix will showcase Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens to the World. See new track below – world-class racing w/o using 199th St, and no racing during school hours. We hope the County Commission will support our effort to deliver this huge global event to you! pic.twitter.com/VqF5AnPMJT
— Tom Garfinkel (@TomGarfinkel) January 21, 2020
While city officials press to approve the new track, local residents are up in arms about the potential race. F1 cars are notoriously loud, and as we mentioned above, these races aren’t contained within an arena or stadium.
City officials believe this will bring in additional revenue for Miami and the surrounding area, as annual races are expected to be held around Hard Rock Stadium for the next 10 years. The local populous is arguing that these races are too loud for local streets, and will cause an enormous amount of disturbance and will be detrimental to the environment. Overall, this will cause a “serious degrade to their quality of life.”
Just so you can have a reference, F1 engines tend to run between 130-145 decibels. If you go to a concert and stand relatively close to an amplifier, you’re only dealing with about 100-110 decibels. The average lawn mower is about 90 decibels. Needless to say, these engines are LOUD.
Unlike NASCAR, Formula 1 (F1) race tracks are essentially “created” using local roadways that are already in place. Though there is obviously a lot of preparation that goes into “creating” the course (to ensure the safety of racers and fans alike), no new venues need to be built.
With that said, the City of Miami Gardens and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross are attempting to host the race solely on Hard Rock Stadium grounds. Given Ross’ ownership in the land surrounding Hard Rock Stadium, it’s possible this race doesn’t officially occur on any public roads.
To give some background, Stephen Ross attempted to buy F1 a couple of years ago, but the sale ended up going to another group. Though he didn’t win the bid, he reached an agreement with the new owners and is now one step closer to making the Miami Grand Prix a reality.
Tom Garfinkel, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, issued the following statement on behalf of the approved 6-6 decision:
— F1 Miami Grand Prix (@f1miami) February 20, 2020
This recent vote was the biggest hurdle potentially preventing the Miami Grand Prix from happening. Though the legal battles aren’t over, it seems unlikely that the decision to host F1 races will be reversed.
Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts
The Miami Dolphins are beginning to bulk up the depth of their roster as they head into free agency.
According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Dolphins have signed tight end Michael Roberts. The exact terms of the contract are currently unknown.
#Dolphins are signing former #Lions TE Michael Roberts, source says. Roberts had four workouts the past week and more on the docket but will sign with Miami. Missed last season with a shoulder injury that nixed a trade to the #Patriots. Healthy now. 3 TDs in 2018 and can block.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 19, 2020
Originally a 4th-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Roberts has served mostly as a backup tight end; accumulating 146 yards on 13 receptions in 23 active games between 2017-2018.
Roberts was placed on injured-reserve towards the end of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, and was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional 2020 7th-round pick prior to the 2019 season. Due to medical reasons, the trade was voided a couple of days later.
The Green Bay Packers claimed Roberts off of waivers, but he was subsequently released by the Packers two days later for failing a physical. Roberts was not active for any games in 2019.
Signing Roberts doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins aren’t going to pursue tight ends in free agency or in the draft. Mike Gesicki is the only “lock” to make the 2020 roster, as Durham Smythe‘s blocking ability might not survive if the Dolphins find themselves in an advantageous situation at the position.
Look at this as a way for Miami to get ahead of evaluations.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) June 13, 2019
A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football
(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.
Person B is ready to go with their mock.
Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.
I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.
They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.
Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.
(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida
As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.
Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”
Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”
Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”
Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”
[resends mock draft to Person B]
“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”
Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”
Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.
So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”
Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”
Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”
And that wraps things up with Person B.
What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).
Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…
- Local Residents Sue Miami Dolphins over F1 Race Track February 20, 2020
- Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts February 19, 2020
- A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football February 19, 2020
- Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019 February 14, 2020
- A Miami Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football February 12, 2020