The final installment of my RB Spotlight series will focus on Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake. The Cardinals traded for Drake ahead of the 2019 trade deadline by sending the Miami Dolphins a conditional 6th round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. During the last 8 games of the season, Drake progressively overtook David Johnson as the offense’s starting RB and amassed 814 yards from scrimmage (643 rushing) and 8 total touchdowns. He signed a transition tag in March which pays him $8.483 million for 1 year.
Drake was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft and was an exciting prospect due to his explosive running style and versatility. When Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 many believed Drake would take over as the lead guy in his absence. However, that never materialized as he continued to be used in a timeshare with guys like Frank Gore and Kalen Ballage. This underutilization of Drake in Miami is something I never agreed with, as I saw him as a talented player who should be getting around 20 touches a game. I clamored for the Dolphins to trade him if they weren’t going to commit to using him properly, and to the Cardinals’ fortune, they finally did last season.
As mentioned earlier, Drake thrived with the Cardinals in the second half of the season. Some assume that Drake’s success in Arizona was a direct result of the Air Raid system implemented by 1st year Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury. However, that surprisingly wasn’t the case.
You might want to listen to this if you think Kenyan Drake’s success last year was a product of Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense… taken from Friday’s ROSS TUCKER FOOTBALL podcast @RossTuckerNFL @gregcosell pic.twitter.com/r4m6ySgSBG
— Ross Tucker Podcast (@RossTuckerPod) August 16, 2020
I went back and studied his film from Weeks 15-17, looking for where Drake displayed exceptional skills in the running game. I wanted to highlight plays that would show what he’s capable of as the lead back for the Cardinals and the dynamic playmaking ability he brings to the table.
I love seeing Drake finally get the opportunity to be the featured RB for an offense. Comparing his game from a few years ago to what it is now, I’ve seen him become more controlled and disciplined with his footwork and decision making behind the line of scrimmage. He’s decisive when he needs to hit a hole quickly, but he also knows when to be patient on how to anticipate defenders at the 2nd level. Furthermore, Drake and QB Kyler Murray work very well with each other on read option plays as defenses have had a difficult time containing the speed of each of them. He’s right at the prime of his career and is in a great situation right now with the Cardinals. Whether Drake gets that long-term extension he’s looking for will depend on whether he can continue to perform at a high level for them.