Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase watches the team, during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase watches the team, during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

After finding out the Miami Dolphins traded their 2016 Pro Bowl RB to the Philadelphia Eagles during the middle of the 2017 season for a 4th round pick, I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth the Miami Dolphins were thinking.

With RB Jay Ajayi packing his bags for the City of Brotherly Love, Damien Williams as the new starting RB, and the rarely utilized Kenyan Drake as his backup, people were obviously puzzled by the whole transaction and what the future held for the Phins run game, even after head coach Adam Gase stated he liked where his RB group was headed.

However, after seeing some of the numbers KD compiled during his first couple of games as the Phins new starter after Williams had to end his season short due to a shoulder injury, it is easy to see what Gase and RB Coach Danny Barrett saw in their 2016 3rd rounder they both acquired in their first draft together in Miami. First, let’s sink our teeth into some stats I compiled highlighting KD’s 5 games as the Dolphins starter:

-Played in 85% of all offensive plays (291 of 341) in the last 5 games (vs. Den, NE, Buff, KC, & Buff) including being out the last ½ of the 4th quarter during week 17 due to an ejection.

-From only 133 carries (34th highest out of all RBs), KD was tied for the 5th most 20+ runs (7) and tied for the 2nd most 40+ runs (3) behind the 30th ranked run blocking offensive line (per Football Outsiders).

-5th best average per carry out of all RBs with at least 100 carries (6.1)

Now let’s dive into some footage below to visually stimulate and appreciate what this former Alabama RB accomplished:

Great athletic ability (4.45 40 time, 123” broad jump). Very good balance and hip flexibility to remain upright through contact with his jump cut, plus good acceleration to the sideline out of it.

Nasty vision/improvisation with just silly change of direction, especially in outside zone run concepts. Feet are always working overtime. Scary in space with his 4.4 speed and shifty between the tackles. Bursts through the LOS quickly, can perform multiple cuts on a dime without losing momentum, and harnesses a nasty spin move. Really makes you work for your tackle. Also, KD can quickly change ball position so effortlessly while running (3rd and 5th clip). After having 2 fumbles (both lost) out of 42 carries in his first 11 games this season, he had 0 fumbles out of 91 carries in his 5 games as the new starter.

Even though KD has a thinner frame (6’1 | 211 lbs.) than most starting RBs and finished in the bottom 1 percentile in the bench press (10 reps) at the combine, KD is a tough guy to take down. Showcases a strong lower body, very good balance, and good timing dropping his shoulder to minimize contact.

Solid route-runner. KD was utilized in the last 4 games as an inside & outside receiver in empty pass concepts (00 personnel) with short/intermediate check down routes and the occasional seam fishing for mismatches vs. LBs. Good mental processing to orchestrate his designed pick plays. However; he was inconsistent as a pass-catcher (chest catches, drops), which is why WRs Jakeem Grant and Jarvis Landry took the bulk of the pass-catching responsibilities out of the backfield the last few games of the season.

Fearless in pass pro. Utilized most as a helpful chip blocker vs. edge rushers before executing his check down route. When he stays home, he keeps his QB clean by stepping up to stop the blitzing 223-pound LB & 210-pound DB dead in their tracks, squaring up and exploding from his hips to absorb the initial blow with a wide enough base, lower body strength, and active hands to sustain it. However, KD struggles in pass pro where he gets caught scanning when his target isn’t clear (more complex blitz concepts).

Conclusion

After watching every snap of his 5 games as a starter, I am impressed and really excited to see what’s in store for KD this next season. He has proven doubters wrong that he can compete in this league as an every down RB. However, coach Gase & newly acquired OC Dowell Loggains should still acquire another RB — or 2 — in free agency/draft (I presume this is what they will do) to help with the longevity of KD and Williams. Who knows, maybe they’ll find that perfect RB with their 4th round pick — I’d really love to see them get a bruiser — they snagged from Philly and come out on top of this trade after all.

About The Author Sean Nazar

Sean loves all things football, ranging anywhere from scouting to analytics. Aspiring to work in the National Football League after serving in the Coast Guard. Dabbles with Affinity Photo, R programming, and doing what his wife tells him when he isn't at work or watching film. Follow him on twitter @nflcoastie.