Barry Jackson

The Miami Dolphins are eyeing several running back options for the NFL Draft

San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (20) runs for a touchdown against Army in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, last December. The Dolphins are intrigued by Penny’s skills. (Steve Nurenberg/Star-Telegram via AP)
San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny (20) runs for a touchdown against Army in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, last December. The Dolphins are intrigued by Penny’s skills. (Steve Nurenberg/Star-Telegram via AP) AP

The Dolphins know they enter this draft not absolutely needing to select a running back but preferring to add one if the right player — at the right time — is there.

Besides their affection for three SEC running backs (LSU’s Derrius Guice and Georgia’s Sony Michel and Nick Chubb), we hear the Dolphins also like San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny and have been trying to book a visit with him at their Davie headquarters.

Finding a date when Penny is available to come to Miami has been challenging, because he already had booked visits with multiple other teams.

But there’s a lot to like about him. Penny led all Division 1 running backs with 2248 yards rushing last season on 7.8 per carry. He finished fifth in Heisman Trophy balloting and was a first-team All-American last season.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said of Penny: “Volume-carry running back who plays with an active running style that rarely sees him slow his feet. Penny has the short-area foot quickness to create yardage for himself, but he doesn’t really have the burst or long speed to be a home run hitter. His motor gives him a chance to be a productive NFL starter, but he may lack the explosiveness to be a great back.”

Based on his experience last year, Georgia running back Sony Michel spoke about what it’s like to go through the draft evaluation process.

Zierlien, who projects Penny as a second-round pick, quotes an NFC scout as saying this about him: You know exactly who he is when you watch the tape. I don’t think there are going to be any surprises when you get him into our league because you know he is going to make guys miss and he’s going to run hard every snap.”

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have taken a close look at Mark Walton (who visited last Friday) and Michel (who visited Monday).

Besides Penn State’s Saquan Barkley — a potential top seven pick — several other backs could go in the first three rounds: Guice (the Dolphins like him and met with him privately at LSU’s pro day), USC’s Ronald Jones, Auburn’s Keryon Johnson, Michel, Penny, Chubb and perhaps NC State’s Nyheim Hines and Jaylen Samuels and Tennessee’s John Kelly Jr., plus Notre Dame’s Josh Adams. The Dolphins have evaluated all of them.

Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen and safety Mike Edwards talk about Georgia running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel after Georgia’s 42-13 victory.

Walton could go in the fourth round range; draftnik Tony Pauline said he’s UM’s best prospect in this draft.

Among smaller school prospects, the Dolphins met with Jacksonville State’s Roc Thomas before his pro day; the former Auburn back ran for 1065 yards last season. And they’ve shown some interest in Oregon State’s Ryan Nall and Mississippi’s Jordan Wilkins.

There’s a decent chance that Miami’s No. 3 running back will come from the draft process. Senorise Perry and Brandon Radcliffe are the only backs under contract beyond Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake.

Click here for football media notes, including CBS’ explanation for going into business with a new football league featuring Steve Spurrier.

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