DAVIE — Miami Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano has played with Jamaal Charles in Kansas City and DeMarco Murray in Tennessee, so he knows a few things about how to block for a running back like Kenyan Drake.
“Once they break through the secondary, they’re a threat to go the entire field,” Fasano said Friday. “At any moment. That breakaway speed they all have in common. DeMarco has great vision. And can really find holes. Jamal has elusiveness and can bounce it. And Drake is the same way. So I could just say the breakaway speed and the vision are similar.”
Drake isn’t even Miami’s starter, as that honor goes to Damien Williams.
But Drake’s ceiling is much, much higher, and it’s because of his blazing speed.
In the first 59 carries of his career (limited sample size, yes), Drake has averaged 6.0 yards per carry. Here is why this is relevant. It’s relevant because it’s remarkable. And because it may be a marker for future greatness.
Consider some of the active running backs who are somewhat similar to Drake in size, stature and style, and how many yards per rush they’ve averaged throughout their career: Jamaal Charles (5.4), LeSean McCoy (4.6), DeMarco Murray (4.5) and Chris Johnson (4.5).
Now consider how fast these players ran a 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, or their Pro Day: Charles (4.38 seconds), McCoy (4.48), Murray (4.41) and Johnson (4.24). Drake is 6-feet-1, 211 pounds, bigger and stronger than you may think, but he also ran a 4.45 at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Dolphins tight end MarQuies Gray sees similarities between the players on this list.
“They are pretty shifty,” Gray said. “They’re able to make the first person miss. They have some power. And they’ve all got speed. (Drake’s) a capable home run hitter. He’s elusive. He can reverse field, as you saw last year against Buffalo when he had that long run. He’s got speed and power. He’s really the complete package. And he’s young, so there’s nowhere to go but up.”
For now, the Dolphins plan to continue rotating Drake and Williams, who has averaged 3.1 yards per attempt in his career. Since the departure of Jay Ajayi, Drake has had explosive runs of 66 and 42 yards in two games.
“You’ve seen what Kenyan can do,” Dolphins guard Jermon Bushrod said. “He has good eyes. Fights to find the hole. And he’s an explosive player. The holes aren’t going to be perfect every time. Sometimes you’ve got to use your magic a little bit, use your speed and make us all look better.”
If Drake had enough carries to qualify for league leaders last season, his 5.4 yards per carry average would have tied him for third in the NFL with LeSean McCoy, behind former Dolphin Mike Gillislee and current Jet Bilal Powell.
If Drake had enough carries to qualify for league leaders this season, his 6.8 yards per carry average would tie him with rookie Alvin Kamara of the Saints as the NFL leader.
Gase has been impressed with Drake’s focus and concentration lately. He’s studying harder and making fewer mistakes. But Drake is going to have to continue to prove he deserves more and more carries.
Drake already has some things that any running back in the NFL would desire — blazing speed and big-play ability.
“We saw it off of our kickoff return team, that speed he has,” Gase said. “The thing about him that makes him unique is that for a speed guy, he hits the hole extremely hard. If he pops through that secondary, that’s where he becomes an issue.”