We have well documented the running back situation for the Dolphins, and now, the NFL Draft has come and gone. And, the one addition through the seven rounds, that has us already wondering about September in Miami is Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage.
Ballage, who showed flashes of brilliance over his four years in the desert, will come into a backfield with Kenyan Drake and, now, veteran Frank Gore. Ballange, not unlike Drake, will enter his rookie year with the tag of being versatile, but also like Drake, having not been the every down feature back in his college career.
The good thing in the short term is that there is not going to be great expectation or pressure on Ballange, who’s 6’2, 225lbs., because he was a fourth round pick Saturday. So, at the moment, he’s third behind the two headed Drake-Gore combo going into training camp.
Ballage’s best season at ASU was 2016, where he registered 1,005 yards from scrimmage and 15 TDs. However, that amount of scoring was skewed, because eight, yes eight, of the TD’s came in a single game with defensively challenged Texas Tech in week two of that season.
In fact, you can enjoy that highlight package here:
He is a quality back from a power conference, the Pac 12, but he’s basically split time as a ball carrier his whole career. As a result, he only had four games last year with more than 15 rushing attemps. Now, Ballage is also a good receiver, but his pass catching numbers plummeted from 44 receptions in 2016 to just 20 of them in 13 games last season.
Showing the versatility we mentioned, Ballage is also a kickoff returner, who averaged 22 yards per return for his four year career.
So, how will this translate for coach Adam Gase and new offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains into what the envision for Ballage, how he blends in and the 2018 season?
That’s an unknown.
We do know that Drake is pass catching weapon also, 32 receptions in 2017, and he is already familiar with Gase’s offense, which Loggains will continue to use. And therefore, it’s unlikely that Ballage will be replacing Drake in third down situations at least early in the year.
His best hope is “get in the playbook” and be ready, as the season goes on and wear and tear takes it toll, especially on the 34 year old Gore. That will likely happen. Then, it’s a head to head battle with Drake for playing time down the stretch.
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