Give the Miami Dolphins credit for trying to upgrade the running back position this offseason. Miami was in the running for Dalvin Cook before he signed with the New York Jets and has interest in dealing for Jonathan Taylor amid his standoff with the Indianapolis Colts. Trading for Taylor is still a possibility, but the star back is on the PUP list and will be sidelined for the first four games.
Do the Dolphins even need a featured back like a Cook or Taylor? Miami is 25th in the NFL in rushing average, 22nd in rushing touchdowns, and 19th in yards per carry. This was with two players returning who averaged 4.9 yards and 4.7 yards per carry, respectively, last season. It didn’t help the Dolphins affected those numbers by averaging just 22.9 carries per game (31st in NFL), making the franchise go six consecutive seasons without a 1,000-yard rusher — tied for the fourth-longest drought currently in the NFL.
While the Dolphins likely won’t have a 1,000-yard rusher this season, Mike McDaniel’s rushing attack should thrive with a running back-by-committee approach in Year 2. The Dolphins have an impressive stable of backs to use throughout the year.
The leading rusher on the Dolphins last season, Mostert put up a respectable 181 carries for 891 yards and three touchdowns in 2022 (averaging 4.9 yards per carry). He started 14 games and 70.25 yards per game, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Miami’s rushing attack was significantly hindered when Mostert was inactive for the playoff loss to Buffalo (the game Skylar Thompson started).
Mostert is the lead back in the committee approach, but he won’t be getting the bulk of the touches every week.
The Dolphins acquired Wilson at the trade deadline last season, reuniting him with McDaniel. Wilson played eight games in Miami, finishing with 84 carries for 392 yards and three touchdowns (4.7 yards per carry). Over the final three games, he had 40 carries for 154 yards and a touchdown (3.8 yards per carry).
Wilson, who Miami re-signed this offseason, is likely best suited to complement Mostert, as he’s averaged 10.5 carries per game since arriving to Miami. Mostert averaged 10.0 in that stretch, so there should be a fairly even distribution.
The third-round rookie will add some explosiveness to the running game, even with a shoulder injury that kept him out most of the preseason. He has the highest ceiling of this group, and his 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine is nothing to scoff at.
The Dolphins will ease Achane into the rushing attack, but don’t be shocked if he’s the back getting the most touches in the second half of the year. If Achane can stay healthy, he’s a home run threat in the zone-run scheme.
Ahmed only had 12 carries for the Dolphins last season despite playing 12 games. He’s at the bottom of the depth chart, but will be relied upon at some point with the injury history of Mostert and Wilson. Ahmed just isn’t a high-volume back, but provides excellent depth for a group that needs it.
An undrafted rookie, Brooks finished with 22 carries for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason — highlighted by a 52-yard rushing touchdown. The Dolphins felt highly enough of Brooks to keep him on the 53-man roster, likely due to his two-touchdown showing in the preseason finale.
At 6-1, 223 pounds, Brooks beat out Myles Gaskin for the roster spot. The Dolphins could use Brooks as a short-yardage back, given the lack of physical backs on the roster. Brooks has a role in this offense.