Anyone who watched the Dolphins last season knew that running back was a position that needed to be addressed. They had arguably the worst group in the league, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick serving as the team’s leading rusher. Many thought the position would be addressed through the draft, but instead, it came through free agency and trades.
During the free agency period, the Dolphins brought in former Bears and Eagles running back Jordan Howard. Howard, twice a 1,000-yard back with the Bears, was thought by many to be the team’s starting running back. Miami also brought in former 49ers running back Matt Breida in a draft-day trade. Breida, by all accounts, would share the workload with Howard and provide a much-needed change of pace.
Instead, it’s the Dolphins seventh-round pick from 2019, Myles Gaskin, leading the charge. Gaskin has been the team’s featured back through the first two weeks of the season, surprising most. Despite his small stature, Gaskin is doing the bulk of his work on the inside, too. The RAS breakdown for Gaskin shows us this shouldn’t be a surprise.[sv slug=”mocksim”]
What is RAS?
Every year, during draft season, you hear about a wide receiver running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash. You hear about a defensive lineman putting up an absurd number on the bench press. Analysts talk for days — or longer — about a player’s 3-cone performance. We know what these numbers mean from a general perspective, but how do they compare to the rest of the league?
For that, Kent Lee Platte has developed RAS or Relative Athletic Score. RAS is a composite metric that allows us to compare the NFL Combine or Pro Day performance of a draft prospect to their peers. It’s scored on a scale of 1 to 10 and is pivotal in giving us a real feel for how a guy coming into the league compares to others at his position, and to players who have been in the league for years.
The Myles Gaskin RAS breakdown
It’s no secret that Myles Gaskin is small. Gaskin came to the 2019 NFL Combine measuring only 5’09 ⅜” and weighing only 198 pounds. Those numbers give Gaskin a RAS grade of 3.17 and 2.62, respectively. Those numbers put Gaskin outside the top 1,000 running backs all-time since 1987 in both categories.
In spite of the poor size grades, the overall RAS grade on Gaskin is 5.97. That score is bolstered in large part thanks to some surprising strength for a back of Gaskin’s stature. Gaskin was able to put up 24 reps on the bench press test at the NFL Combine. That mark was good enough to give Gaskin a RAS grade of 9.11. His 24 reps put him just outside the top 100 running backs of all-time at 116.
The RAS grade for Gaskin is further boosted by above-average scores in the vertical leap and his 10-yard split. With scores of 7.27 and 7.41 respectively, both scores are good enough to put Gaskin’s explosion and speed scores squarely into the “Good” categories. The only area where Gaskin comes up short other than height is agility, with an “Okay” grade that is significantly hampered by a 3-cone grade of only 3.92. That score places Gaskin as the 600th RB out of 986 since 1987.
The outlook going forward
Gaskin has a good — not great — RAS grade, with some impressive numbers in strength and explosion/speed. Impressive testing is one thing. Having that testing show up on game day is another. The NFL is littered with athletes who tested exceptionally well, but for one reason or another, could not put it together on Sundays.
So far, Gaskin is showing his athletic testing on Sundays. We’re only two games into the season, but Gaskin is excelling where we would expect him to. Gaskin has 16 carries on the season for 86 yards, giving him an average per carry north of the five-yard mark. According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, all but one of those 16 carries for Gaskin has come between the tackles.
Gaskin isn’t a shifty back. He plants his foot and relies on his quick first few steps (10-yard split) to hit the hole. Once he’s there, defenders aren’t going to bring him down simply trying to tackle him up high. Gaskin is too strong and will run right through those arm tackles. The Dolphins made a commitment in the offseason to getting bigger and more physical. That’s what Gaskin brings to the table. It may be a surprise to see him getting more of the share than Howard or Breida, but it’s a trend that’s likely to continue throughout the season.