No Najee Harris or Travis Etienne, so what can Dolphins do to fill running back need?

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Running back is a significant need for the Miami Dolphins.

Actually, so is center.

And probably offensive tackle.

And why not another receiver — which would be more of a want than an urgent need.

Anyway, the Dolphins are expected to address their running back need either in the next few hours in the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft or Saturday while we’re all eating hot dogs and hamburgers or ordering pizza during rounds 4-7.

And let me say it right now: The Dolphins made a conscious decision Thursday night not to pick Clemson running back Travis Etienne, who was believed to be the top running back on their board, with the No. 18 overall selection.

I get it, University of Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips was simply graded higher than Etienne on Miami’s board, so he was the pick. And after the Phillips pick, general manager Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores predicted-expected-feared a run on running backs.

Which is what happened as Pittsburgh selected Alabama’s Najee Harris at No. 24 and Jacksonville scooped up Etienne at No. 25.

“Yeah, Brian I and the coaches and scouts, we do a lot of work predraft, a lot of calls, information, mock drafts, going through our own stuff and looking at it,” Grier said. “Yeah, we thought that could happen.”

But ...

“But for us, Jaelan was the best player on our board at that point. As Brian said, you can never have enough pass rushing. We all felt that way. So for us, we were tremendously excited that Jaelan was there. We didn’t think he would be there and we were happy to get him.”

I have zero problem with this logic.

A pass rusher is harder to find than a running back, and that’s why they are more valuable if you have the right one.

But after picking Phillips and holding considerable draft capital, the Dolphins either couldn’t or wouldn’t trade up ahead of the Steelers, a team many people expected would be running back shopping, so they could add Etienne.

And now Grier and Flores are headed into Friday’s business looking to add to their running back room.

The Dolphins tonight hold the No. 36 selection (the fourth pick in the second round), the No. 50 selection (the 18th pick in the second round) and the No. 81 selection (the 17th pick in the third round).

So what to do?

The Dolphins have North Carolina’s Javonte Williams in their sights. Because on the same day the Miami brass attended the University of Miami pro day to see Phillips, more Miami brass attended the Tar Heels pro day.

The Dolphins, by the way, have a lot of brass. Not too much cooper or silver but lots of brass.

Anyway, Williams is obviously a strong possibility.

So the question is do the Dolphins sit back and wait on Williams to fall to them?

Or do they feel the need to perhaps try to trade up with Jacksonville, picking first in the round, to get Williams? Because the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons each might pick Williams.

Or do the Dolphins believe they can wait until the back end of the round for Williams?

Or do they go another direction altogether?

This much is certain: Williams will be selected in the second round.

And what if the Dolphins do not get him? What then?

Doing some detective work, a name that shows up a lot is Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State.

Hubbard is 6-foot and 210 pounds. He ran a 4.48 and then 4.5 time at his pro day, which is good for his size. He also had a notable 36-inch vertical leap.

It must be said Hubbard rushed for 2,094 yards to lead the FBS in 2019. And the last Oklahoma State back to rush for more than 2,000 yards was Barry Sanders.

Relax, he’s not Barry Sanders.

Hubbard came back to Earth in 2020 because of various injuries, according to him. He is not projected as a second-round pick. But his combination of size, speed and production make him a Saturday possibility.

Grier has shown no misgivings about picking smaller players given his selection of Jakeem Grant, Tua Tagovailoa, and Jaylen Waddle. If we wants to go really small — like really, really — one supposes he could go with North Carolina’s Michael Carter who is all of 5-7 7/8.

Carter might be small but he’s comparatively slow, running a 4.5 at his pro day which is unremarkable for his size.

Carter does his damage with quickness and shiftiness. That was reflected in that his short shuttle and three-cone test at his pro day were excellent.

But is Carter a second- or third-round prospect? Hard to fathom.

If the Dolphins are going with a running back Friday they’re likely going Javonte Williams.