When the Miami Dolphins selected running back Jay Ajayi in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, many fans and analysts were both surprised and excited. That’s because not many saw the Dolphins taking a running back at that point and also because as more and more was revealed about Ajayi, many started to realize that he could quickly become the steal of the draft.
That’s because he was projected to be a second round pick before concerns about his degenerative knee condition was revealed in the weeks leading up to the draft. When it came time for the draft to take place, Ajayi, who was at home in Texas with his family, thought he would go much earlier than the fifth round and was admittedly disappointed.
“Watching the draft, I did think I was going to go earlier so I was definitely disappointed. At the same time, I can only control what I can control, and I know right now at this very moment that I’m extremely healthy and I’m ready to go into camp and ready to contribute right away. I’m excited that the Dolphins took a chance on me, and I’m ready to just prove a lot of people wrong and prove the Dolphins right.”
When exactly did Ajayi think he would be picked? He said it was on day two and when it came and went without his name being called, he had to rely on his family and friends to help him get over his disappointment of not yet being drafted.
“I just stayed at home. It was hard to sleep that night. I stayed at home. I have a great support system there around me as well to make sure I didn’t get discouraged. At the end of the day it was in God’s hands, and God wanted me to be a Miami Dolphin, and I’m extremely happy about that.”
While there are not many concerns about his knee holding up in the short term, there are plenty of people who think that his knees will become an issue after several years of abuse in the NFL. However, Ajayi said that he feels comfortable with his body and believes that he can hold up over the long run.
“Yeah, definitely. I know that with my knee and with the way that I made sure I handled it, I will play for a long time. I’m just excited to see how my future just unfolds, and I’m excited to be a Dolphin.”
Ajayi understands that his knees are the reason why he fell in the draft and continued to preach that he can only control what he can. After being passed over so many times by all 32 teams, he said that he is hungrier and a bigger chip has been added to his shoulder that he’s going to play with for the rest of his career.
That hunger will only add to the physical style that Ajayi brings on the field. When asked to describe the type of player Miami is getting, he compared himself to Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster and Matt Forte. When describing himself and how he’s learned from those three players, he didn’t hold back.
“The Dolphins are going to get a running back that’s complete, a guy that can contribute right away and is going to do whatever he can for the team, and a guy can catch the ball out of the backfield, run inside and outside, and has the mental aspect of the game to be able to pick up blitzes and is going to make sure he keeps his quarterback protected. I think that I’m a very versatile player. I’ve shown to be able to move the chains on third down with power, and I’ve shown that I’ve been able to have big plays using my speed, catching the ball out of the backfield and running on the outside and inside. So I think that I’m a very versatile player that can do a lot for the Dolphins.”
If Ajayi can bring that to the Dolphins, he’ll add another element to the offense that Miami hasn’t seen in years. If that happens, they will be on their way to having one of the best offensive units in the NFL.
This story was written by Matthew Cannata. Follow him on Twitter: @PhinManiacs
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