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Dolphins’ De’Von Achane downplays concerns about size ahead of first rookie practice

There are two attributes that quickly come up when it comes to De’Von Achane for the simple fact that they are extremes.

One is his speed. Achane, who ran track at Texas A&M, was the fastest running back in the 2023 NFL Draft and third fastest among all players, clocking a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

But not too long after, Achane hears the questions about his frame and whether it can hold up in the NFL. He measured 5-8 and 188 pounds at the Combine, which are in the 11th and third percentile, respectively, all time for players at the Combine.

Achane’s size didn’t deter the Dolphins from using a high pick on him, though, selecting him with the No. 84 overall pick in the last month’s draft.

And ahead of his first rookie minicamp practice Friday, Achane also downplayed the concerns about how he will hold up in the NFL.

“It gets brought up a lot,” Achane said. “... Everybody’s got their opinion on me. I [don’t worry] about what everybody’s got to say because I know what I can do and I know what I’m capable of. So my size to me doesn’t matter, but it does get brought up.”

Achane was one of the most dynamic players in college football this past season. He was the only Power 5 player to score as a rusher, receiver and kick returner in 2022, and the Dolphins view him as an all-purpose playmaker.

“I’m great on special teams, I can catch the ball out of the backfield, I have very good hands, I can line up at receiver,” he said. “So I can do more than just play running back. So I feel like that’s what makes me different.”

Head coach Mike McDaniel has prioritized speed as he has built the Dolphins’ offense, but has also stressed that they are looking for complete football players in the process.

“Speed we generally like around here,” McDaniel said in April, shortly after the team picked Achane. “But I think it’s more of you feel like there’s a fit in terms of a guy fitting within your existing team. You’re always keeping in mind that you’re adding players to team and really think that that group in particular, the running back room for us is very important. You find a person and player that fits your skill set that you like but also that fits within the room because we have some other good competition in there as well.”

Rookie running back Devon Achane (28) warms up as he sprints during 2023 Miami Dolphins Rookie Minicamp practice at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Friday, May 12, 2023.
Rookie running back Devon Achane (28) warms up as he sprints during 2023 Miami Dolphins Rookie Minicamp practice at Baptist Health Training Complex in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Friday, May 12, 2023.

Achane said he measured 192 pounds Friday morning, which is the heaviest he has been, and the full commitment to football has allowed him to get bigger.

“I always knew that I could gain weight,” he said. “I just didn’t have the full offseason to gain weight because obviously I was doing track. This is my first year not doing track, so I actually had the whole offseason to work out and be in football shape. So it kind of helped me with that.”

Though Achane receives questions about taking hits in the NFL, he noted the benefits of being a smaller player in the backfield.

“I’m a much smaller back than usual,” he said. “I’m shorter. [The offensive line] is big, so it’s kind of hard for them to see ... it’s hard for them to tackle me as well because big guys, it’s kind of hard to tackle small guys.”

The Dolphins on Friday conducted the first of two rookie minicamp practices with their draft picks, 21 undrafted free agent signings and tryout players. Though Miami has a running back room full of veterans, Achane’s speed could allow him to make an early impact.

“Just basically learning that offense,” Achane said of his goals. “That’s something that I just pride myself on. I’m trying to learn so everything can be so smooth when I’m at practice. So that’s just something. I’m trying to learn the schemes, learn what the defense is doing, learn just the play calls and the terminology because it’s different in college. That’s basically it.”