The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player for the 2013 NFL season on each NFL team (rookies don’t count). For the Miami Dolphins, that player is running back Lamar Miller.
When the Miami Dolphins moved up to take Lamar Miller in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft, many didn’t understand the move. The receiver needy Dolphins had yet to take a receiver and running back wasn’t an immediate need and didn’t seem worth moving up to fill. The Dolphins had Reggie Bush as the lead back and had just used a 2nd round pick the draft prior on Daniel Thomas, to add to their running back corps.
However, clearly the Dolphins saw the local kid Miller, out of the University of Miami, as too good to pass on, which makes sense. After all, he was widely projected as a 1st or 2nd round talent, who didn’t have a legitimate reason for falling, other than some maturity concerns and durability issues. The 5-11 212 pound back showed tremendous speed for his size, running a 4.40 40 at The Combine and had an excellent 2011 season, rushing for 1272 yards and 9 touchdowns on 227 carries as a mere true sophomore.
Though he was only a one year starter, that’s seen as more of a positive than a negative for a running back because of how short their career spans are. A running back who can catch the attention of the scouts without accumulating a lot of tread on his tires in college tends to be a sought after commodity on draft day. Besides, Miller had just turned 21 and seemed to have a very bright future.
Reggie Bush was heading into the final year of his deal and Thomas struggled as a rookie and the new Dolphins coaching staff clearly didn’t see the plodding Thomas as a good fit for their offense. The smaller, quicker Miller was a much better fit and after not doing much as the 3rd string back as a rookie (250 yards and a touchdown on 55 carries), Miller now seems poised for a breakout year as Miami’s feature back in 2013, replacing the departed Reggie Bush.
Daniel Thomas has shown very little in his two years as a pro, rushing for 906 yards on 256 carries (just 3.5 YPC) and the coaching staff that drafted him is gone. Miller is the clear starter at this point in the off-season and that does not figure to chance. Thomas’ best role moving forward would appear to be as a pure short yardage change of pace back and a goal line hammer. Miller could easily have a 1000+ yard plus breakout year for the Dolphins this season.