Since the moment Reggie Bush left for far more snowy and much less Kardashian friendly pastures in Detroit, Lamar Miller has been a popular breakout pick by everyone, including grandmothers everywhere. I can only assume that means Ryan Tannehill is about to have a lot of grandmas requesting his digits soon after his comments this morning. Watch yourself, Lauren.
Back in early April with Bush settling in with the Lions, I wrote at length about Miller’s bust out potential. As I reflect back on those words, I remember how difficult it was to write while jumping up and down. To review, Miller did a lot with highly limited touches behind Bush this past season in Miami, including three runs of 15 yards or more on just 51 carries, highlighted by a 28 yarder. The open-field burst he showed in that small sample size led to an average of 4.9 yards per carry.
Now, we’re slowly getting confirmation from people in the know that Miller will be carrying many more footballs in the near future. The latest voice to feed our giddiness may not be Joe Philbin, the Dolphins head coach and the guy who matters most. But it’s still pretty damn close.
Friends, I give you the aforementioned Tannehill (Ryan, not Lauren), who should know things because he’s, well, the quarterback. His answer to the Dolphins running back question during an appearance on NFL Network this morning was both concise, and spectacular (from Chris Wesseling):
Asked who the Dolphins’ starting running back is, Tannehill replied without hesitation: “Lamar Miller right now. He’s doing a great job this offseason, really has a great handle on the offense and he’s doing a great job protecting. … They can (all) run the ball but being able to understand the pass game, understand the checkdowns and where they’re protecting really makes a big difference and makes me more comfortable.”
Soon enough, “right now” will turn into “most definitely no doubt”, especially after Daniel Thomas’ plodding in 2012.
Thomas had a light workload, but one that was much heavier than Miller’s, and he did little with it. He was given 91 carries, highlighted by a season high 19 in Week 3, and he also had thee other double-digit games. Yet he averaged just 3.6 yards per carry, and that YPC was still low even during those double-digit games when he had more opportunities (3.6 in Week 3, 2.9 in Week 5 with 10 carries, 2.8 in Week 8 with 15 carries, and 2.8 again in Week 11 with 12 carries).
Miller could still lose touches near the goal-line, which will slightly reduce his value and overall production potential. Even though Tannehill is telling us that in practice right now the Dolphins are leaning towards him presumably because of his greater upside (translation: he’s better…#analysis), the almighty powers above gave him a slighter build. Miller stands 5’10″ and weighs 218 pounds, while Thomas has vulture potential with his 6’1″, 233 pound frame. Well, in theory he does at least.
At a position where demand is high early in drafts and supply therefore thins out quickly, Miller could be one of the best bargains out their with his current fourth-round price tag in 10-team leagues