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Player Spotlight: Lamar Miller

A detailed look at Lamar Miller's fantasy outlook for 2013

Lamar Miller should feel right at home playing for the Miami Dolphins. He was born in Miami, Florida and attended Miami Killian High School, playing football and also running track. Miller had 165 rushing attempts for 1,122 yards (6.8 ypc) and 12 TDs as a junior and improved to 217 carries for 1,749 yards (8.1 ypc) and 22 TDs as a senior. He was ranked as a four-star recruit by both Scout and Rivals and decided to stay home and play for the University of Miami. He ran a 4.4 forty-yard dash in high school.

Miller red-shirted his initial college season in 2009. His red-shirt freshman season in 2010, he rushed 108 times for 646 yards (6.0 ypc) and scored 6 TDs. He played even better as a sophomore, carrying the ball 227 times for 1,272 yards (5.6 ypc) and scored 9 TDs. Miller also ran track for Miami, competing in sprints at 60, 100, and 200 meters. His personal bests were 6.78 seconds, 10.56 seconds, and 21.50 seconds respectively, with the low times for the two longer distances both recorded during high school. He decided to leave for the NFL following his second year playing for Miami, three years out of high school.

Miller also ran a 4.40 forty-yard dash at the 2011 NFL Combine, which was the fastest time for all running backs that year. He was mostly well regarded coming out of the combine, both for his football abilities and his speed. He had good size and strength and also an extra gear (track speed) to go all the way on any play. He also exhibited good quickness and a natural feel for the position, even though he had somewhat limited playing time and experience coming out of Miami.

He was drafted in the fourth round, 97th overall by the Dolphins as the 8th running back selected. Miller falling that far was not suspected and could have been due to his continuing recovery from shoulder surgery.  In 13 games as a rookie, he had only 51 carries for 250 yards and caught 6 passes for another 45 yards, scoring only 1 TD. The most carries that he had in any one game was ten, but that occurred twice, in week 2 against Oakland and in week 16 against Buffalo. Those two games were also his most productive, as he averaged 6.9 ypc over those two games and scored his only TD.

His career statistics are provided below. 

Year Gms Rush Yds ypc TDs Targ Rec Yds ypc TDs
2012 13 51 250 4.9 1 8 6 45 7.5 0

Looking Forward to 2013

There are abundant offensive personnel changes for the Dolphins heading into 2013. Reggie Bush who was the primary running back in 2012, left for Detroit. Most expect Lamar Miller to be Bush’s replacement, who will get the lion’s share of the carries. However, the Dolphins drafted Mike Gillislee this year in the fifth round, another local product out of Florida who has good strength and is a solid receiver. They also still have Daniel Thomas who was drafted in the second round in 2011 and has largely disappointed thus far.

Miami also lost Jake Long, one of the NFL’s highest rated free agent linemen and although the offensive line was considered the team’s primary need, they only drafted Dallas Thomas, considered the back-up left tackle in the third round. They did sign Tyson Clabo to a one-year contract to start at right tackle, but that likely shifts Jonathan Martin, a 2012 second rounder to left tackle. Martin’s play a year ago at right tackle was poor, so moving him to left tackle would seem problematic. The offensive line talent appears diminished from a year ago and that combined with multiple players shifting to different positions, the line is expected to be a major team weakness.

They did improve the receiving options for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill, adding Mike Wallace (five-year $60 Million with $30 M guaranteed), who has averaged over 1,000 yards receiving and 8 TDs per year for his four years at Pittsburgh and Dustin Keller (one-year $4.25 Million), who is athletic enough to run the deep seam routes and finished as TE9 for two years with the New York Jets.

Positives

  • The opportunity is there for Miller to be the lead running back for the Dolphins
  • Miller has elite speed, but also known for burst and strength>
  • Dolphins have much improved receiving weapons so the passing offense could be improved in Tannehill’s second year

Negatives

  • Miller had limited playing time a year ago, so the experience level is low
  • Offensive line issues could negatively impact the Dolphins’ ability to run the ball
  • Dolphins’ have three relatively young running backs to compete for playing time

Projections

  Gms Rush Yds ypc TDs Rec Yds ypr TDs
David Dodds 16 205 923 4.5 6 26 198 7.6 1
Bob Henry 15 230 1,050 4.6 7 35 260 7.4 1
Jason Wood 16 230 1,060 4.6 8 28 215 7.7 1
Maurile Tremblay 16 175 754 4.3 5 25 187 7.5 1
Stephen Holloway 16 190 798 4.2 4 30 270 9.0 2

Final Thoughts

Lamar Miller currently has a fairly low ADP, RB22 and 42 overall, considering that he has the potential to be the Dolphins’ lead running back. He has spent the summer working out with Frank Gore and generally impressing those that have watched. However, the combination of his limited experience and the Dolphins’ suspect offensive line seems to limit the expectations for production this year. He will be a player that you carefully observe in training camp to gauge how much he is being used and how well the offensive line is coming together.

Other Viewpoints

Will Brinson on CBSSports. com article http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/eye-on-football/22732767/rbs-guru-calls-lamar-miller-the-fastest-running-back-ive-ever-seen

“He's the fastest running back I've ever seen,” Bommarito said. The trainer also noted that working with Gore has done positive things for Miller's "work ethic and mentality" toward the game of football. “Since Lamar started gravitating toward Frank, his work ethic and mentality are unparalleled," Bommarito said.

D.J. Siddiqi’s article Why 2013 will be Lamar Miller’s Year http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1685016-miami-dolphins-why-2013-will-be-lamar-millers-year

Technically speaking, the running back competition is open to Miller, Daniel Thomas (a second-round draft pick in 2011), Mike Gillislee, Jonas Gray and Marcus Thigpen. Realistically speaking, it's Lamar Miller's job to lose.

Miller's Attributes

Miller is a back who relies mainly on his speed, but hits holes with aggression—unlike his predecessor Bush—and mixes in a little bit of power running when needed. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, while profiling the Dolphins, claimed that "Lamar Miller is the NFL's best-kept secret." I believe Miller is a Clinton Portis clone, with the tools to be a dominant runner in the NFL. He has the speed to turn the corner on outside runs, while also displaying the toughness to pick up the hard yards between the tackles. Additionally, he possesses the elusiveness to make defenders miss in the open field on the way to big gains.

Dirty Word in the Player Spotlight Thread http://forums.footballguys.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=682259#entry15620269

Looking at the roster, other RB’s that might compete for playing time include Daniel Thomas and Mike Gillislee.  The recent blurb about Jonas Gray sounds like June news, but September transaction fodder.  With Bush off to Detroit, there are 262 touches up for grabs and if Miller can show that he can handle true RB1 responsibilities (which include being able to adequately pass protect), he may be in line to grab a majority of them.  With Mike Sherman and Joe Philbin calling the shots on offense, I do think there is an opportunity for Miller to truly seize the bellcow role in the rushing attack.  Ahman Green had his best years under Sherman and I think he’s (Sherman)  old school enough to be the type of OC to ride the hot hand once he finds one.


More from Steve Holloway:

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Player Spotlight: Brandon Marshall - August 3
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