July 27 (UPI) — 400.
That is the number of receptions Jarvis Landry secured in his first four NFL seasons — all coming for the Miami Dolphins. That number also equals the most in NFL history through a player’s first four seasons.
That number is now missing from the Dolphins locker room.
Landry is long gone, fitting in with the Cleveland Browns’ improved aerial attack. Ryan Tannehill’s proverbial ‘safety blanket’ wide receiver departing means that the team has quite the hole to fill. Although the Dolphins added former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson and former New England Patriots pass-catcher Danny Amendola, you should also look at the running back position when it comes to snagging some of now available targets from Tannehill.
And Drake says he’s looking forward to filling that role.
“Whatever [Adam] Gase has drawn up, that’s the role I’m willing to take on,” Drake said. “I pride myself on being versatile, so at the end of the day, when I go out there, I just want to make plays however I can.”
In today’s NFL, versatility in the backfield is a must if you want to stay on the field. Drake excelled at more than just carrying the ball in 2017. While he did average a respectable 4.8 yards per carry and ran for 644 yards and three scores, Drake also averaged 7.5 yards per reception, while legging out 239 receiving yards on 32 catches. He caught nearly 67 percent of his targets during his breakout sophomore campaign.
In addition to Landry’s NFL-leading 112 receptions, the Dolphins also lost dynamic running back Damien Williams to free agency. The Dolphins also parted with veteran tight end Julius Thomas, who secured 41 receptions in 2017. Jay Ajayi had 14 catches in seven games for the Dolphins, before being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In total, the Dolphins lost 202 receptions over the offseason. Drake, Amendola, Wilson, and rookie tight end Mike Gesicki will largely be tasked with claiming those targets, while Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker continue to see their share of looks.
Last season, 49 out of Jay Cutler’s 266 passing completions (18 percent) went to running backs. In Tannehill’s last full season, that number was about 20 percent.
Drake averaged 3.3 receptions and 29.5 receiving yards per game in his six starts last season. Those numbers come out to 53 catches for 472 yards over a 16-game season, an improvement over his actual aerial production of 239 yards on 32 receptions last season.
He also averaged 16.6 carries for 77.3 yards rushing yards per start in 2017, which averages out to 1,236 yards over a full season.
But don’t count out the aging — but dependable — Amendola when it comes to pulling in catches. The slot specialist was a magnet for the Dolphins’ quarterback at training camp and worked with Tannehill throughout the offseason. He could be in the mix for north of 60 receptions this season if he stays healthy.
“Danny is a great guy to have out there,” Tannehill said Thursday. “He has played a lot of football. He understands football. He understands zones and how to get himself open and match ups and does a great job of finding windows and finding space. You saw he made a couple of catches in tight windows today. He’s going to help us a lot this year. I’m excited to have him.”
With the subtraction of a target monster in Landry and several pass catching running backs out of the picture, expect a big bump in catches for the playmaking Drake to increase his fantasy football value.
He should be considered a high-end RB2 in all formats and you should not be afraid to draft him as your RB1 if you decide to start your draft with wide receivers.