Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Is Myles Gaskin ready to lead the backfield in 2021?

After surprising everyone and emerging from camp as the number one back in 2020 Myles Gaskin once again looks set to be the Dolphins featured back after the team chose not to meaningfully address the position in free agency or the draft.

Running back has been a bone of contention with fans for years, with first Jay Ajayi shipped to Philly after a handful of very good games, and Kenyan Drake moved to Arizona after a handful of very average games. Most pundits had the Dolphins addressing the position in the draft with Harris, Etienne, and Williams as the key options.

But as Myles Gaskin sat watching free agency and the draft he must have been left feeling fairly confident that this staff has faith in him moving forward. With veteran lumberer Malcolm Brown the only real add in free agency and Gerrid Doaks joining late in the draft, Gaskin is in the drivers seat as we enter camp in 2021.

MYLES GASKIN WORKING HARD TO STAY ON THE FIELD

Myles Gaskin missed four games with injury in 2020 at a time when he was the fourth most productive back in the league. missing a further two games due to covid-19 may make it seem that his productivity wasn’t there as much as it actually was.

So what has Gaskin been doing this offseason to try and stay on the field more? In a recent Dolphins media avails Gaskin said, “Working on knee health, ankle health, things like that work on stability, working on those small muscles. I did a lot of Pilates when I went back home to Seattle and I think that helped my body just working on those small muscles and awkward movements.”

These are the kinds of things that can separate the average backs from the highly productive ones. Focussing in on those little details that maybe make your body 5%-10% more flexible, more adaptable. And that’s where Gaskin is this off season. Looking to take that next step.

MYLES GASKIN PUTTING UP NUMBERS

One of the areas that gives Gaskin value in Brian Flores team is his versatility. In 2020, PFF ranked Gaskin 17th among running backs for pass blocking. He had the second longest reception by a running back, finished 7th overall in receiving yards by a back, and tied for fifth in y/rec for backs with at least 20 targets.

He also forced 31 missed tackles to rank him 19th in the league which is even more impressive when you consider he ranked 29th in totes. For all the talk of the Dolphins needing a lead back Myles Gaskin was putting up great numbers behind a dodgy line last season.

Myles Gaskin rushed by direction in 2020 © PFF.com
Myles Gaskin rushed by direction in 2020 © PFF.com

When we analyse Myles Gaskin runs from the 2020 season we see a pretty equal split of first downs, 10+ gains, yards after contact, and missed tackles forced regardless of which direction he was travelling. So all signs point to Gaskin having that ability to lead the backs with the potential for greater performance with better blocking.

Whether Gaskin has that ability to become a top-tier number 1 is debatable, but the staff clearly feel he has more than enough to lead the backfield heading into 2021. Given the production he put up when he was on the field, and some improved run blocking it’s hard to argue with that perspective.

For a position that the NFL has devalued in recent years, Myles Gaskin’s 7th round draft pick status doesn’t really mean that much. What matters is the work he puts in, and so far all signs point to 2021 being the year of Myles Gaskin.

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