Kenyan Drake has finally found his role in the Dolphins offense

Game Film, Gif Breakdowns, NFL

Mansur Shaheen

Kenyan Drake became one of the focal points of the Miami Dolphins offense after they dealt Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles mid-way through the 2017 season.  While Miami’s offense could not find much consistency last season, his emergence gave them something to look forward to in the future.

Drake was selected by the Dolphins in the third round of the 2016 draft. He only started one game in his rookie season but saw that number jump up to six in 2017. His workload heavily increased as he had 133 carries in 2017 compared to 33 the year before. He also doubled his touchdown total, scoring a combined 4 in 2017 after scoring two in the previous season. Miami saw promise in Drake and transformed him into a major contributor after dealing away their best running back.

Drake had his coming out party during the Dolphins Monday Night Football upset of the New England Patriots last December. He had 114 rushing yards on 25 carries and added 79 receiving yards on 5 catches.

The running backs greatest trait is his ability to slip through tackles and stay on his feet despite contact. He sheds contact too his upper body with ease. Drake is great at lowering his shoulder and getting underneath tacklers who attempt to take him down up high.

He can keep his feet churning and is great at adjusting his upper body weight to slip by defenders who fail to wrap him up. Drake is not scared to lower his shoulder and crash into defenders. The running back can drag tacklers and carry a pile for extra yardage at times.

While Drake is great at getting through tackles to break into open space what he does after breaking those tackles could be better.

He has the ability to break free from defenders but after that, he usually just ends up stumbling back and forth in any random direction before going down. The Dolphins running back fails to regain his balance after bouncing off of tackles. This means that he does not do a great job of taking advantage of broken and missed tackles, and often ends up running straight sideways instead of upfield.

His vision in the open field seems to struggle at times and while he can spot holes and take advantage of them in the backfield, his frantic hurried running style leads to him getting mentally ahead of himself and lost while on his feet. Once Drake gets into the second level of the defense he seems panicked and more preoccupied with avoiding defenders instead of just gaining yardage.

Despite his ability to slip through tackles and keep his feet churning, Drake has issues keeping his balance. Occasionally he trips over his own feet in the backfield and stumbles down despite little to no contact.

He can’t get out of his own way. While he is great at ripping through tackles on his upper body the slightest touch to his lower body can cause him to lose his balance and go down.

Drake’s footwork really needs some work. He has an off balance running style that generally leads too him leaning heavily forward while stumbling almost. It is very upright and unafraid which allows him to rip away from tacklers, but it also means that he is constantly off balance and is a small touch away from going down.

While the running back has troubles working his way through traffic, he is an extremely dangerous runner in the open field.

Drake has great speed and burst. If he can cleanly get to the second level of the defense than he has a legitimate shot to go the distance. The Alabama product is a big play threat every time he has the ball. He is a very boom or bust runner who can often bust big plays but also is liable to lose yards in the backfield to keep the team behind schedule (which happens to be similar to that of Jay Ajayi).

While Drake does provide some utility in the passing game he is not the special receiving talent some make him out to be. He is an average route runner, and while he is a threat to make big plays in space the same issues that arise with his play when surrounded by defenders in the run game haunt him when he attempts to run after the catch. He often spends to much time dodging back and forth and running sideways instead of turning upfield and fighting for yardage.

With Jarvis Landry out of Miami Drake may be better utilized in the offense, though. Many of the shorter targets and screen passes will be heading his way. He does not often drop passes and they can get him into the flat by himself then his big play potential can really shine.

The Dolphins signed veteran running back Frank Gore this offseason. The former Colt is expected to share carries with Drake in the offense. Gore will most likely take short yardage snaps and give Drake resting time on certain downs.  Last season the Dolphins seemed unsure how to split snaps between him and Damien Williams after the Ajayi trade. He will be used a little less as a bell cow this season and in a more defined role which should help him thrive in what should be a very different looking offense this season.

 

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