Getting To Know Our Rookies: Kalen Ballage

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Miami Dolphins
Position: Running Back
Personal information
Born: Peyton, Colorado
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 228 lb (103 kg)
Career information
High school: Falcon (CO)
College: Arizona State
NFL Draft: 2018 / Round: 4 / Pick: 131
Career history Draft Profile

Player Bio

Ballage made national headlines in 2016 by tying the FBS record by using his power and speed to score eight touchdowns in one game (seven rushing — most from the Wildcat formation in the red zone — and one receiving) in a September match-up against Texas Tech. Ballage did not earn any all-conference efforts because he split carries (126 for 536 yards) with Demario Richard, but he scored 14 rushing touchdowns, provided a safety valve in the receiving game (44 receptions, 469 yards, one touchdown) and returned kicks (18 attempts, 409 yards). Ballage split carries with Richard again in 2017, rushing for 669 yards and six scores on 157 totes (20 receptions, 91 yards; 20 attempts, 437 yards on kick returns). He missed the beginning of his sophomore year with mononucleosis but finished with 653 rushing yards and four scores in 10 games. The four-star recruit from Colorado played a role as a true freshman in 2014 (42 rush, 138 yards, three touchdowns; six receptions, 64 yards, touchdown), even making a 96-yard kick return in the Sun Bowl that year.


Ballage looks great on the hoof and should test well at the Combine, but his lack of decisiveness and vision make it hard to envision him as a full-time RB1. Ballage can do a little of this and a little of that, but a team will need to have a clear-cut plan for how to use him. Ballage’s size and athletic ability will appeal to teams as will his ability to play on third downs and return kicks.

  • Excellent body composition and frame
  • Possesses an athletic build with well-proportioned upper body and lower body that squats over 500 pounds
  • Versatile player who has experience as an off-set runner, a pass catcher out of the backfield and a wildcat quarterback
  • Has experience returning kicks
  • Plays with adequate burst between tackles
  • Lowers shoulder and accelerates feet into and through contact to fall forward
  • Has secondary power to find a tough yard near end zone
  • Clean hands as pass catcher
  • Displays ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls
  • Can line up in the slot
  • Able to slip first tackle attempt after the catch in open field
  • Needs to protect with better technique, but his size is effective in taking on blitzers
  • Doesn’t have the hips or feet to cut with sharpness after flowing hard to the edge
  • Runs too upright to squeeze through tight rush lanes
  • Plays with early indecisiveness
  • Takes too many skip steps in his approach downhill allowing defense time to fight past blocks
  • Field vision is severely lacking
  • Allows open run lanes to go unused
  • Feet can get confused when faced with unexpected traffic
  • Athletic, but not elusive
  • Not nearly as hard to tackle as expected
  • Play regressed somewhat from 2016

TDS Take: Running back was a true need as I projected that Miami would draft one between the 2nd-4th rounds and this kid is a stud with very good speed but has room to get stronger and bigger he is in a very good situation to be in Miami’s running back room he just might get a shot if he can beat out Frank Gore for some playing time or if God forbids Kenyan Drake goes down.


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