By Alex Kurpeski
Following a month-long absence, the Dolphins appear set to activate starting running back Myles Gaskin from IR this week, with the second-year back expected to take back the lead role in this backfield. Gaskin has been a revelation for Miami this season, totaling 585 yards in seven games while scoring a couple of touchdowns. Few could have expected Gaskin to get such usage, as he appeared to be working behind veterans Matt Breida and Jordan Howard for most of the offseason. With a 68.9% snap share and a 66.2% opportunity share, Gaskin has been the unquestioned starter for this team when healthy.
A 7th round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Gaskin is far from the biggest or fastest back you’ll see. As his PlayerProfiler page will attest, Gaskin is rather unremarkable as an athlete in every area besides strength, where he ranked in the 79th percentile. Gaskin was drafted largely on the merit of his college production, as he ran for over 5,000 yards and 57 touchdowns while averaging over five yards-per-carry for the Huskies.
Listed at 5’9, 205 lbs, Gaskin runs like a bigger back despite being slightly undersized. While he’s averaged only 3.9 yards-per-carry this season, his performance is admirable given the complete absence of a run game that plagued the 2019 Dolphins. His receiving chops have been better than advertised too, as Gaskin has caught 30/35 targets for 198 yards, which had him on pace to haul in over 60 passes this season prior to his injury. As we can see in the breakdown below, Gaskin’s performance following the trade of Kenyan Drake seems the be a major factor in his expanded role this season.
Myles Gaskin led all Dolphins backs in average yards after contact. The vision, patience, and change of direction skill-set allowed him to create yardage despite a running scheme that rarely opened up lanes. pic.twitter.com/NC5YM4kjqv
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) January 31, 2020
Despite not having “elite” workout metrics, Gaskin has been tough to handle for defenses this season, ranking 16th among qualified backs with a 24.6% juke rate and 21st with 32 evaded tackles. Gaskin’s elusiveness has been what has kept him working ahead of the other backs in Miami, with a good example of what he’s been doing well displayed in the clip below:
myles gaskin looking good early. pic.twitter.com/wBq1LxEekV
— josh houtz (@houtz) October 18, 2020
Though he’s considered undersized by NFL measures, Gaskin’s power running has been impressive enough that the Dolphins felt comfortable moving on from Jordan Howard.
Myles Gaskin from @UW_Football gets a TD for the Dolphins
— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) November 1, 2020
As we see in the clip below, Gaskin’s ability to “maximize each run” has been a major factor in Miami’s improvements on the ground this season.
Myles Gaskin is a savant.
Processing, anticipation, footwork, efficiency, pad angles, flexibility, balance. Maximizes every run. Ruthless. pic.twitter.com/zHY1wWjNCY
— J Moyer (@JMoyerFB) September 24, 2020
Miami is set to push for the playoffs this season, largely due to Gaskin’s performance. The former UW should resume his duties as their lead back for the remainder of the regular season. Based on what I’ve seen from him this season, I think Gaskin is going to be Miami’s starter to begin 2021 as well, even with a ton of talented backs available in the upcoming NFL Draft.