Even though it wasn’t that difficult to build on the rushing performance that the Miami Dolphins put together during the 2019 season, the 2020 campaign still left a lot to be desired from the team's backfield. The Dolphins only averaged 3.9 yards per rushing attempt last season, which was the fourth-worst in the NFL.
If the team wants to take the next step in 2021 and make life easier for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, they’ll need a more productive and consistent rushing unit next season. Myles Gaskin was a nice find for the team in 2021 and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. He also caught 41 passes, a solid return from a player who was shoehorned into a bigger role after veteran running back Matt Breida failed to impress early in the season.
2021 NFL Draft: The best RB options for the Miami Dolphins
Despite Gaskins' impressive performances, the Miami Dolphins will certainly look to add a running back to their roster from the 2021 NFL draft. But who could Miami bring into the fold via the draft to give their backfield more of an edge in the 2021 season?
#1 Najee Harris, Alabama
Najee Harris looks set to be the next on a long list of former Alabama Crimson Tide running backs who went on to be absolute monsters in the NFL. If Harris can be anything like Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, or Josh Jacobs, the Dolphins would be extremely content with their choice.
It's unlikely Miami will use their number three overall pick on Harris or a running back in general, but he could very well be in play for them with the 18th pick. If the team is intent on bringing Harris in, they could also trade their 18th pick along with a second-round or third-round pick to move up on the draft board to get him. Harris rushed for 26 touchdowns in his senior season as the Crimson Tide strolled to another national championship.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is certainly vouching for Harris as the duo played together during their time in Alabama.
#2 Travis Etienne, Clemson
Speaking of running backs who have had outstanding college careers, Clemson Travis Etienne has been on the wishlist of NFL teams since his sophomore season. As a freshman back in 2017, Etienne recorded 13 rushing touchdowns, basically showing from day one that he was a star in the making.
The Dolphins probably wouldn’t consider grabbing Etienne with either of their first-round picks, but they also hold the 36th and 50th overall selections in the second round of the draft. They could make the move to scoop him up with one of those picks.
#3 Javonte Williams, North Carolina
He hasn’t quite had the prime-time coverage that Harris and Etienne have had over the past two seasons. But Javonte Williams has had an impressive college career in his own right, playing for the University of North Carolina.
Williams’ yards per carry improved every season at Chapel Hill, punctuating his college career with 7.3 yards per rush in his junior season in 2020. He is a compact, physical runner who could help establish a culture with the Miami Dolphins' improving offensive line.