Posted: 7:31 pm Friday, April 29th, 2011
By Post Staff
The Dolphins may be moving on from running back Ronnie Brown, but they might not necessarily be moving on from the Wildcat offense.
The Dolphins traded up to the end of the second round Friday night, trading their third (79), fifth (146) and seventh-round (216) picks to Washington for the 62nd pick and drafting Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas, who ran the Wildcat extensively at junior college and Kansas State the past four seasons.
Thomas, who stands 6-0 and 230 pounds, is a bruising running back who compares his style to the Rams’ Stephen Jackson and former Kansas City running back Larry Johnson. But he is a versatile back that caught 52 passes, rushed for 2,850 yards, scored 30 touchdowns and even threw a touchdown out of the Wildcat formation.
In 2010, Thomas was 4-for-8 passing out of the Wildcat, with a 70-yard touchdown. Thomas also played option quarterback at Northwest Mississippi Junior College in 2006-07, and threw for 578 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions in two seasons.
He will likely be the Dolphins’ new featured running back, with Brown, Ricky Williams and Patrick Cobbs all set to become unrestricted free agents.
“I did a lot of it, both my junior and senior year, and I was pretty much a Wildcat quarterback in junior college, so I feel like I have a level of comfort with that,” said Thomas, a high school quarterback in the small Florida town of Hilliard, north of Jacksonville. “If I’m called to do that, I can definitely do it.”
Hilliard took a long path to the NFL. He originally committed to the Florida Gators in 2006 but didn’t enroll because of academic issues, and instead went to junior college. In 2008, he spent the year at Butler County Community College and Manhattan (Kan.) Christian College in order to meet academic requirements.
But he was an immediate producer at Kansas State, rushing for 1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2009 and 1,585 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2010. He had a bit of a fumbling problem, dropping the ball 11 times in two years at K-State while losing seven of them, but he averaged over 5.0 yards per carry in both years.
“I was very durable. Didn’t miss a game,” he said proudly.
Thomas, 23, has a listed time at 4.72 in the 40-yard dash, but says his real time is in the 4.5s. Thomas said he had a good visit to Miami a couple weeks ago, where he first met Tony Sparano and Jeff Ireland.
“I feel like I play fast,” Thomas said. “I’m a guy that can keep the chains moving, the guy that can also go out of the backfield and catch routes. I can run between the tackles, go outside, whatever they may need me to do.”
Thomas was the fourth running back taken in the draft, behind first-rounder Mark Ingram and second-rounders Ryan Williams and Mikel LeShoure. The Dolphins still have a fourth-round (111 overall), sixth-round (179) and two seventh-round (218, 235) picks remaining in the draft.