DAVIE — The Dolphins used a fourth-round draft choice obtained in the Jay Ajayi deal to obtain another running back capable of eye-opening plays.
Rookie Kalen Ballage of Arizona State begins his pro career at rookie minicamp this week. And coach Adam Gase saw the same things you probably saw when watching college film of the running back.
“He’s a big man that runs fast and can catch the ball well,” Gase said Thursday. “He really has all of the things that you’re looking for in an all-around back. It’ll be fun to see how he progresses and how things go … how quick he learns everything and how he fits in with the group.”
Ballage will be needed to contribute on special teams immediately, with Damien Williams gone to Kansas City. Veteran Frank Gore does not play special teams and Ballage may be able to help in kick return.
But Ballage seems to have all the physical tools to one day compete to start in the league.
“You just kind of need that open competition,” Gase said. “You just want to try and create as much competition in practice as possible and when we get to the preseason, see who kind of really steps up and pushes themselves to the forefront. Then when we get into the season, we’ll figure out the best way to use everybody.”
After the draft, Miami general manage Chris Grier seemed to feel Ballage was a great value in the fourth.
“He’s big, he’s fast and he’s (got) upside,” Grier said. “Some guys come out with a lot of wear and tear on them. He hasn’t had a lot of wear and tear. I think Senior Bowl week, he went there determined to show people that he was undervalued in his mind. That’s the first thing he said when we called him to tell him he was going to be a Dolphin, he said, ‘I don’t think there’s 11 running backs better than me that went in front on me.’ He’s confident. He understands that he’s going to have to work and improve and earn a spot; but he’s very excited to be here with Kenyan (Drake) and Frank (Gore). For us, the value was important.”