The Dolphins are conducting meetings with players at their facility next week, with several players already scheduled to fly in Monday for Tuesday visits.
Count Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure prominently among the players the Dolphins will be meeting with soon. The team is looking for replacements for either Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams or both and Leshoure's performance last season -- 1,697 rushing yards and 17 TDs -- suggest he's as solid a possibility as anyone.
So what should the Dolphins look for when they search for a running back?
They need to find a guy who can square his shoulders and get up field quickly. They should find someone who can absorb hits with some sort of subtlety to where it seems as if defenders are always just missing. This is important because backs that take full-on hits all the time don't last very long or get hurt a lot. Quickness is a trait you want from a running back, one that is more important than speed, quite frankly.
You probably think I'm crazy for typing that last sentence, right? After all, look at Chris Johnson. The man is a lightning bolt and that speed is intoxicating. Yes, but Johnson is also quick. Speed on it own gives you a track man. NFL teams want football players.
Speed is not so valuable in the absence of instinct.
Consider that Ronnie Brown came out of Auburn and to Miami as the No. 2 overall selectionin 2005. He ran a 4.4 in the 40 at the Indianapolis Combine. But how many 70 yard touchdown runs has that led to with the Dolphins?
Meanwhile, a guy such as Emmitt Smith could barely crack 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. And yes, he ran behind a dominant offensive line. But when he got past the second level, I don't rightly recall him getting caught from behind by cornerbacks or safeties that could run much faster. He had quickness. He had instincts. It's important.
One player that I had not heard about until this week was brought to my attention by a great personnel man I sometimes converse with and always respect. Check out Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott.
He's 5-11 and 211 pounds. His stats at Maryland as a junior were good but not great. He gained 708 yards. He's projected to be a 5th or 6th round pick. But this personnel man really likes Scott. Says he had very nice quickness to go with his 4.4 speed.
And, of course, he gets square quickly.
Look, I don't claim to be a draft guru. Frankly anyone in the media that claims to be a draft guru without actually having NFL experience is something of a poser. But what I do is talk to people who are legitimate personnel people, who have been in draft rooms and have true expertise and experience.
Those guys actually picked players. And I, in turn, pick their brains and pass along to you as much information as they allow me to do. Scott is a guy that has been suggested to me as a value pick in the fifth or sixth round but perhaps someone takes him a bit sooner.
We'll see how it turns out.
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