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Miami had a need for a Big RB, and the Dolphins get a tremendous value in Boise State RB Jay Ajayi with their 2nd pick in the 5th round.  Ajayi slid to this point because of a knee that is bone on bone, but the Dolphins team doctors have to feel good about his knee.  That said, this is a highly verstatile kid that is highly productive as a runner and in the passing game.  At 6'0, 221 lbs, Ajayi is the only player in FBS history to gain over 1800 yards and have 500 yards receiving.  Great feet and can put consecutive moves together.  Plays with bend and burst thru the hole with a nice, low pad level.  Physical, downhill runner between the tackle, something Miami certainly needs.  Shows good blitz recognition in the passing game, toughness and character.  He needs to do a better job with ball security, as he had 11 fumbles in 597 carries.  Tremendous value pick for the Dolphins.



Jay Ajayi, RB
School: Boise State | Conference: MWC
College Experience: Junior | Hometown: Plano, TX
Height/Weight: 6-0 / 221 lbs.



Draft Analysis

What he brings: He's not as powerful as you'd expect from a guy his size, but he has good overall vision, patience and agility. He is a natural pass-catcher who can be productive in this area early in his NFL career. He needs to get a little better in pass protection, and he isn't the most explosive back, but he should be valuable on third down.

Draft Results

Overall Football Traits

Produc-tion 1 2011: Redshirted 2012 (11/0):RUSHING: 82-548-6.7-4RECEIVING: 1-14-14.0-0 2013 (13/12): RUSHING: 249-1,425-5.7-18RECEIVING:22-222-10.1-1 2014 (14/14): RUSHING - 347-1,823-5.3-32 RECEIVING: 50-535-10.7-4
Height-Weight-Speed 2 Prototypical height-weight combination for NFL RB. Lower body is a bit lean for his size. Top-end speed appears on tape to be good but not elite.

Durabil- ity

3 In 2011, suffered a torn ACL during practice in redshirt freshman season. In 2014, played through ankle and lower-body injuries during second half of season. Showed a lot of toughness in Fiesta Bowl win, playing through multiple injuries (including two that occurred in-game). Has carried a heavy load the last two seasons (2013-14) with 673 offensive touches. But to his credit, he played in all 27 games (26 starts).
Intangi-bles 2 Pronounced: Uh-JYE-ee. Was arrested for stealing sweatpants in 2011, and was later sentenced to five days in jail. Was given a second chance and took full advantage. Matured tremendously during four years at Boise State. Developed into a good student and was two-time Academic All-Mountain West. Self-motivator. Driven individual. Majored in Marketing. Born in London, England to Nigerian parents. Moved to Maryland in fourth grade (in 2000). Eventually moved to Texas, where he attended Frisco Liberty High School. Grew up playing soccer and was seriously considering playing professional soccer (Nigerian National team wanted him to try out for team), but chose football over soccer in high school. Comes from a supportive two-parent home. Will become the seventh former Boise State running back selected in NFL draft history, including most recently Doug Martin (Buccaneers, 1st round 2012).
1 = Exceptional2 = Above average3 = Average4 = Below average5 = Marginal

Running Back Specific Traits

Competitive- ness 2 Outstanding competitiveness and toughness as a runner. Would have elite grade in this category if not for ball-security problems. Has a 1.6 percent fumble ratio on 751 career offensive touches, which is way below-average for the position. And seven of 12 career fumbles were during his final season (2014), so ball security declined later in career.
Vision/ Patience 2 Good overall vision and patience as a runner. Waits for blocks to develop but doesn't dance. Is an aggressive runner. Attacks the creases when it opens. Senses cutback lanes and has lateral quickness to exploit. Occasionally will get greedy and try to bounce outside, rather than taking his medicine.
Agility/ Accelera- tion 2 Agile, shifty runner with very quick feet for size. Very effective stop-start and jump-cut moves. Outstanding lateral agility. Can string together multiple moves. Shows ability to make defenders miss in tight spaces. Accelerates off of plant foot and can reach top speed in a hurry. Shows acceleration to turn corner as outside runner. Very effective spin move. Top-end speed is not elite but he does show a second gear and can bounce inside runs to the perimeter once he reaches second level.
Power/ Balance 3 Has good size and runs hard. Runs behind his pads and shows good initial pop. Pinball-type runner with outstanding natural balance to bounce off defenders (who don't wrap) and spin for extra yards at end of runs. However, he does not have great lower-body strength to drive through contact. The more tape studied, the more apparent it is that he fails to break enough tackles in one-on-one opportunities. Not a great short-yardage runner and not a great pile pusher.
Passing Game 1 Productive as a pass-catcher (77 receptions in last two seasons at Boise State). Natural pass-catcher with good body control, hand-eye coordination and overall ball skills. Good route runner for position. Comfortable in space. Transitions upfield quickly after catch and is a threat in open-field with ball in his hands. Adequate in pass protection, showing significant improvement this past season. Has size and willingness to continue to improve. But still needs to do a better job sustaining blocks.
1 = Exceptional2 = Above average3 = Average4 = Below average5 = Marginal


STRENGTHS: Workable body type with adequate upper- and lower-body bulk. Quick-footed and nimble to control his acceleration with burst and wheels to finish runs. Explosive cuts with springs in his legs to launch off his plant foot and get upfield with forward momentum. Athletic lateral jump cuts to escape trouble. Limber and flexible body type with rubber joints to be slippery at the tackle point.

Runs low and close to the ground with balance and proper pad level to work off contact. Refuses to go down easy and uses every ounce of power to push forward. Improved vision to cut-and-go with quick eyes to read blocks and trust the play design. Good patience to allow the action to develop and doesn't run hesitant.

Athletic pass catcher to make errant throws look like routine catches with soft hands, collecting himself well after the grab to turn downfield. Experienced lining up out wide and running routes. Tough, hungry and competitive, attacking the teeth of defenses and popping up after big hits.

Understands situations and knows where the sticks are. High-effort player and carries himself with a chip on his shoulder, playing motivated to prove people wrong and preparing the same way.

Highly productive career, including a record-breaking junior season in 2014, becoming the first player in FBS history to rush for 1,800-plus yards and collect 500-plus receiving yards.

WEAKNESSES: Some teams reportedly removed Ajayi from their draft boards over concerns about the long-term durability of the right knee that required surgery in 2011. Also dealt with other minor injuries.

Has added bulk to his frame and runs hard, but lacks ideal power to consistently run through arm tackles as an inside runner. Needs to break more tackles and not allow ankle biters to bring him down. Relies too much on bouncing runs outside and will get himself in trouble trying to string runs out.

Plays too fast at times and needs to better avoid bodies in tight spaces. Good, but not great, speed and can be caught from behind. Prefers to run away from contact at times and will lose yardage. Needs to improve his ball security with 12 career fumbles (seven lost). Appears to wear down late in games, taking a lot of hits in Boise State's offense with a heavy volume of touches the past two seasons. Needs work in pass protection with his technique and strength to sustain both lacking.

Some past character issues that need vetted, including an Oct. 2011 arrest for stealing sweatpants from a Wal-Mart near campus (plead guilty to misdemeanor, served five days in jail and eight hours of classes) -- banned from 2011 bowl game, suspended for the 2012 season opener and was forced to work his way back into the good graces of the coaches. Soccer was his first love and he considered going that direction after high school to play overseas.

COMPARES TO: Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans -- Like the first running back drafted in the 2014 class, Ajayi has a balanced skill-set as a ballcarrier and receiver with the ability to make defenders miss and create his own yardage.

--Dane Brugler

Player Overview

Ajayi was a late bloomer on the football field and Boise State ended up finding a gem early in the recruiting process.

Ajayi was born in London, England to Nigerian parents and moved to the United States in 2000. He played soccer growing up, but starting playing football once his family moved to Texas and developed into a worthy recruit on the football field.

He arrived at Boise in 2011 and didn't redshirt immediately, but within a week span in October, he was arrested for stealing and tore the ACL in his right knee, putting him in the coaches' doghouse and redshirting.

Ajayi was the backup behind D.J. Harper as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and the coaches made him earn the full-time starting job in 2013, something he did within the first few games of his sophomore season. He finished the 2013 season with 1,425 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns, earning All-MWC first-team honors.

Ajayi had his best season in 2014 as a junior with school records for rushing yards (1,823), carries (347), all-purpose yardage (2,358), rushing touchdowns (28) and 100-yard rushing performances (10).

He earned All-MWC honors and some All-American nods for his record-breaking season, finishing with a NCAA-high 397 total touches on the season.

Ajayi showed some immature tendencies as a "follower" when he first arrived at Boise and was almost dismissed, spending over a year in the coaches' doghouse, but to his credit worked hard off the field and made the most of his second chance.

Ajayi has unreal balance to keep his feet with dynamic and explosive qualities needed for the next level to be dangerous any time he touches the ball. He refuses to go down with his low center of gravity to shoo off contact and keep motoring for chunk plays, accelerating to top speed in a flash.

Ajayi is effective in the screen game with good focus as a pass catcher to make adjustments and secure with his hands, but needs to do a better job with his ball security to hold onto the football. His eye-opening production the past two seasons as a starter is impressive and he possesses an athletic and intuitive skill set to be an effective player in the NFL with starter-quality talent.



Draft Analysis:

Miami needed running back depth and they got a potential steal in the 5th round. Ajayi slipped due to serious knee concerns, but if he stays healthy he can be a 18-25 carry back in the NFL. The Dolphins got a potential replacement for Lamar Miller, who's in a contract year. --Mark Dulgerian


Only player in FBS history with 1,800 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in a single season. Tied for second in school history with 50 career rushing touchdowns. Set school records in rushing yards and touchdowns. In 2014, named third-team AP All-American and first-team All-Mountain West. In 2013, named first-team All-Mountain West. Played in 11 games in 2012 averaging 6.68 yards per rush. Was a redshirt in 2011. In high school, named second-team All-State rushing for over 2,000 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior. Tore ACL during his 2011 redshirt season. Arrested in 2011 for stealing sweatpants and struggled to get out of coach's doghouse. Born in England.



Good size and great feet. Former soccer player with sudden feet. Able to string together multiple moves at a time. Varies speeds as a runner and can call on second gear when he sees daylight. Hips and feet always in sync thanks to soccer background. Shows enough wiggle to make defenders miss and can create and improvise if creases aren't offering much. Runs with wide base and generates leg drive to push. Plays with bend and bursts through the hole with low pad level. Reliable yards-after-contact back. Accelerates into contact on second level. True weapon out of backfield with adequate hands and good feel for maximizing each catch in space. Twists and turns and fights to fall forward. Asked to be physical, downhill runner between tackles and he obliged. Shows good blitz recognition. Showed mental toughness and character, coming back from deep in the doghouse for October 2011 arrest.


Gets too cute at times looking to sift laterally from gap to gap as he approaches line of scrimmage. Needs to run with more urgency to perimeter. Can get out-flanked when opportunity to turn corner was previously available. Average feel through the hole. Runs into defenders he should be able to avoid. Heavy workload in 2014 with 398 total touches (28.4 per game). Ball-security concerns with 11 fumbles over last 597 carries. Pass-protection technique needs improvement. Tore his ACL in 2011. Was arrested for stealing sweatpants in 2011 and faced long road of severe punishment from then-coach Chris Petersen.

Draft Projection

Round 2

Sources Tell Us

"Of all the backs in this draft, Ajayi might be my favorite because he can do everything you want from a back and you don't have to find a complementary back to pick up the slack for him in any one area." -- AFC scout in charge of grading running backs "I like every single thing about him except that he doesn't show the instincts you are looking for. If you don't have instincts you will always be limited." - NFC running back coach

NFL Comparison

Mikel LeShoure

Bottom Line

Ajayi's running style and body type are very similar to LeShoure's coming out of college, but LeShoure didn't have the football character to make it in the league. Ajayi features an improving stiff arm and physicality that has become his calling card. Ajayi has the ability to play all three downs while mashing in short yardage and near the goal line. Scouts have been quietly circling Ajayi as a second-tier running back who offers good value on the second day of the draft.



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