The Miami Dolphins quietly have one of the better running backs in the league thanks to Jay Ajayi.
Ajayi exploded onto the scene last year in his second season, rushing for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns on a 4.9 per-carry average.
Going into 2017, Dolphins offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen and others in the organization are excited to see how he keeps developing as a receiver, which would enable him to act like a three-down back.
“Jay (Ajayi) is working hard to be a three-down back,” Christensen said, according to the Palm Beach Post‘s Joe Schad. “His receiving skills are 200 percent better than a year ago today.”
Ajayi only caught 27 passes for 151 yards last year, giving up snaps to other complementary backs in passing situations. Fans will recall his preseasons struggles to bring in the ball at all.
Back in March, coach Adam Gase pegged the passing game as the area he wanted Ajayi to work on this summer, per the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson:
It was really a great thing to see, his development throughout the year. Hopefully we can go even further with the passing game. He did a do good job of improving in that area. Hopefully we can take an even bigger step.
It should scare the rest of the NFL that one of the league’s most violent young runners is rounding out his game this offseason. Ajayi refusing to come off the field only helps an offense already boasting talented weapons like Jarvis Landry.
In short, Ajayi is one to watch next season as a candidate to break into the top five players at his position.