Ajayi’s production was off the charts in 2014. He rushed for 1,823 yards and 32 total touchdowns last season. He shined against various levels of competition and showed a terrific mix of balance, power and speed.
Many pre-draft projections pegged Ajayi to go as high as the second round. Yet, medical concerns dropped Ajayi into Day 3, where the Dolphins picked him up in the fifth round with the 149th overall pick.
Reportedly Ajayi’s knee has major cartilage issues. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports there is “bone on bone” in Ajayi’s right knee, and teams are concerned his career in the NFL won’t last long, which drastically hurt his stock.
“I did think I was going to go earlier, so I was definitely disappointed,” Ajayi said. “At the same time, I can only control what I can control. I know right now, at this very moment, that I’m extremely healthy and ready to go to camp and ready to contribute right away.
“I am excited that the Dolphins took a chance on me. I’m ready to prove all the people wrong and prove the Dolphins right.”
The Dolphins were happy Ajayi was available in the fifth round. Miami assistant general manager Eric Stokes said the team wasn’t as concerned about Ajayi’s health as others and was willing to take the running back in the fifth round.
If healthy, Ajayi’s skills match well with Dolphins starter Lamar Miller, who rushed for 1,099 yards last season. Ajayi is a tough runner who breaks tackles. Miller is more of a home-run hitter.
Based on Ajayi’s film, production and track record, it was worth taking a flier in the fifth round. Ajayi has potential to be the steal of Miami’s draft if he can stay on the field.
“It’s a player that we highly rated on our board,” Stokes said. “Obviously from a medical standpoint, we’ve done a lot of work. Our doctors, they all do an excellent job. We were very comfortable from that standpoint. It was not an issue as much. This kind of talent, to be there where he was, it was a perfect fit.”