What to Expect from Miami Dolphins 2012 4th-Round Pick Lamar Miller

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMay 9, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 12: Lamar Miller #6 of the Miami Hurricanes rushes during a game  against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Running back wasn't considered a position of huge need for the Miami Dolphins headed into the draft but adding Lamar Miller in the fourth round has the ability to provide another explosive playmaker for the Dolphins in the backfield.

The question is, what can the Dolphins expect to get out of a fourth-round running back in his rookie season and going forward?

Drawing on the 18 backs drafted from picks 81 to 113 (16 picks on either side of Miller's draft slot of 97) between the years of 2003 and 2011 is a good place to start to draw a baseline—not to make predictions—for how productive fourth-round backs have been in the past.

Blue = Pro Bowler. Red = out of league.
Blue = Pro Bowler. Red = out of league.

The 18 backs on the list averaged 11.6 games, 2.2 starts, 79.3 carries for 327.8 rushing yards (4.1 yards per carry) and 2.4 touchdowns, adding 13.3 receptions for 103.6 yards in their rookie seasons. Only six of the backs on the list exceeded the average carries, while eight of them exceeded the average rushing yards and seven had more than the average number of rushing touchdowns.

The length of their careers has been fairly hit or miss; while some backs stay for a while and have a big impact, others are drowned in the depth chart or simply don't pan out as predicted. Nine of the 18 backs listed had careers that lasted just five years or less.

Interestingly, among the backs with short careers, several were studs in college. Look at Tony Hunt's college stats and Garrett Wolfe's standout career at Northern Illinois for just a couple of examples, but there are far more to be had.

With that in mind, there are some success stories among the list. Marion Barber and Brandon Jacobs have both been erratic at times, but both have been productive at different points in their careers.

With Barber retired, another back from this list, Michael Bush, takes his spot in Chicago and brings with him an even more steadily productive career than Barber's. 



There simply haven't been that many standout running backs to come out of the fourth round of the draft recently.

That doesn't mean that Miller can't be productive—based on the fact that Bleacher Report draft guru Matt Miller compares him to Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, I'd say Lamar's ceiling is pretty high.

Joe Philbin's offense should be a solid fit for the Miami product. Philbin likes to use his backs as receivers a bit more than offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, but Miller's strong point is as a ball-carrier who gets out on the perimeter and makes defenders miss in the open field.

While catching the ball out of the backfield is one way to make that happen, it's not the only way. Sherman and Philbin are mad scientists on offense, and they should be able to find ways to utilize Miller to his strengths.