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FLAVOR OF THE WEEK: Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami

Jay AjayiKelvin Benjamin and Jimmy Garoppolo are dominating the headlines (and for good reason) but none of them will be the one to benefit the most from the NFL trade deadline. Sure, Ajayi is in a better situation, but he is going to see less touches. Garoppolo probably isn’t even starting until after the Week 11 bye and it isn’t like his weaponry is going to be enhanced beyond Pierre Garcon and the army of underdeveloped youth between now and then. Tyrod Taylor badly needs a primary wide receiver, but despite that happening, it isn’t going to increase the workload in the passing game. This is a team that funnels through its defense and run game. The greatest beneficiary to this (FUN?!?!) NFL trade deadline will be the new starting running back in Miami – Kenyan Drake.

I’ve found Drake to be a challenging one to pin down since I first started following him in 2012. He’s always carried a few flaws that aren’t all that different now than they were five years ago. He’s always run more upright than optimal and on a more slender frame, that’s a difficult combination for any NFL player but especially a running back. There’s good reason to believe that is the primary reason why the medical flag has dragged behind him since the pre-draft process began in the winter of 2016. Fumbling problems have also been a negative attached to him. As he has a tendency to constantly be on the look-out for the big play, another mark against him, he just loses focus on ball security. For any mortal running back these could be crippling issues, but there’s just something different with Drake than others of his ilk.

Despite his upright running style and frame, he has noteworthy power at the point of contact. He also displays tremendous balance – both when battling a defender and in space. Most players don’t have the change of direction or explosion that Drake displays when he goes into and out of his breaks. His feet just never stop moving, whether he’s going downhill or breaking outside. There aren’t many defenders who can contain him in the open field, which makes him so interesting in the passing game. With all of his unique traits it’s no wonder he was the third running back selected in 2016.

But here’s the million dollar question – what will he do with this opportunity? It remains to be seen just how much head coach Adam Gase will trust in him and how much will be deferred to Damien Williams. The Miami offensive line has done Ajayi no favors this season – he has averaged 3.2 yards after contact this season and only has 3.4 yards per carry on the season. Drake’s creativity will likely lead to more big plays this offense sorely lacks, but it very well could also lend itself to more negative plays too. Additionally, neither Drake nor Williams have seen anything as far as their snap counts are concerned to indicate one is favored over the other. Anyone who says they know what to expect from him, both usage and performance, is just guessing.

At this point in the season most waiver wire wonders have uncovered themselves. It’s too late for Kareem HuntJuJu Smith-SchusterEvan Engram, etc. Now is the time you try to find a Jerick McKinnon. The circumstances are different (Dalvin Cook was injured and Ajayi traded) but the possible benefactors are similar cases. There’s the flashier player with passing game chops and the safer more established option. Latavius Murray has certainly helped, but which one performed better and will make you feel better as November begins? Damien Williams is going to be a productive player, but if there’s a breakout candidate it’s going to be Drake – and in our game that’s what you’re looking for entering Week 9. You’re looking for that guy who could be a difference maker down the stretch, not someone you can start if in a jam but aren’t excited about. Those types of players are always available! Drake could end up being a bust but of the two, only one of them has unique traits; traits that could have him taking the lead role by the throat.

This week’s Flavor of the Week is: Discounted Produce.

The cart is buried in the corner of the market. First timers probably never see it, but regulars know where to find it. Most of the options are easily bypassed – that cauliflower is just a little too brown … those apples just a little too bruised … those potatoes got something funny sticking outside of them … but those bell peppers? They look alright. They feel firm. They don’t smell. And there’s five of them for $0.99. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I cut these things open when I get home, but there could be a gourmet of stuffed peppers on the dinner table tonight. And if I open them up to find something rotten? Oh well, I’m out $0.99.

About Mark Chamberlin

A big heart with a little snark. If you've got thick skin then I think we will get along just fine. If not though...