Scout's Notebook: Dolphins RB Reggie Bush

Posted Sept. 19, 2012 @ 4 p.m.
Posted By Nolan Nawrocki

RB Reggie Bush, #22
Miami Dolphins
Height: 5-10 7/8 Weight: 203 Speed: 4.39

Notes: Won a Heisman Trophy after a sensational junior season when he piled up 2,611 all-purpose yards at USC. However, was forced to return the award after a marketing scandal in which he accepted lavish, improper gifts that left a stain on the program and brought severe sanctions that forced Pete Carroll to flee for the NFL. After surprisingly being passed for Mario Williams as the top pick in the 2006 NFL draft, Bush played in 60 games in New Orleans during his first five years, starting 41 and racking up 524 carries for 2,090 yards (3.99-yard average) and 17 TDs; catching 294 passes for 2,142 yards (7.3) and 12 TDs; and returning 92 punts for 720 yards (7.8) and four TDs. Was traded to the Dolphins in July 2011 after a lockout-plagued offseason created a free-agent frenzy that brought Darren Sproles to New Orleans to complement recently selected first-round pick Mark Ingram, whom the Saints dealt up into the back of the first round to land. Bush agreed to a two-year, $10 million extension as part of the trade and started 15 games in 2011 for Tony Sparano’s offense, rushing 216-1,086-6 (5.0) and catching 43-296-1 (6.9) as he transitioned to more time in the backfield. Is off to a career-best start in ’12, rushing 40-241-2 (6.0) and catching 9-71-0 (7.9) in two games, ranking second behind only C.J. Spiller. So far, so good regarding his "Hard Knocks" declaration that he wants to lead the NFL in rushing.  

Positives: Rare athlete with bionic movement skill and terrific balance. Is shredded with lean, defined musculature and flashes the ability to run with power when he wants to (see his run over Texans LB Brian Cushing in season opener). Extremely strong pound for pound with an exceptional weight-room work ethic. Quick healer. Has wide peripheral running vision to see the cutback and step out of tackles — decisive reading blocks, sticking his foot in the dirt and exploding out of stops. Dynamic change of direction ­— is as quick as a hiccup and accelerates instantly. Highly creative and strings joystick moves together, slipping, spinning and outmaneuvering defenders in space. Takes excellent, sharp angles to set up tacklers. Has very soft hands and is highly creative after the catch. Skilled, patient, explosive returner with outstanding traffic burst.

Negatives: Has struggled to withstand the rigors of the NFL with a body that might have too little body fat to absorb punishment. Has played all 16 games in only one of his first six seasons and has been continually dinged and unable to make it through an entire season healthy with a surgically repaired left knee that has been a recurring problem. Lacks the bulk strength and lower-body leg drive to push the pile inside and is not built to carry a full workload. Has shown a tendency in past years to bounce runs outside prematurely and lose yardage running too laterally. "Hollywood eyes" are too easily blinded by the bright lights, big city and trappings of the game, with an overexposed media profile resulting from an array of endorsement deals and a high-profile romance with socialite Kim Kardashian. Has been too flamboyant on the field, receiving past fines for taunting and celebrating excessively, and can do a better job of controlling his emotions on the field.

Summary: Never lived up to his college press clippings during an injury-riddled career in New Orleans and was outproduced by his replacement Darren Sproles. However, in his seventh season, he is emerging as the game-changing, big-play back that he was drafted to be, being reenergized by the Dolphins' move to a zone-blocking scheme. Is one of the NFL’s most magical runners, adept at pulling a rabbit out of his hat, as he did when he shook four tacklers on his go-ahead, momentum-changing 23-yard TD run in the third quarter against Oakland last week, and can turn two-yard losses into 20-yard gains. Is best utilized in space on draws, screens, sweeps, shuffle and swing passes, where he can shake defenders out of their shoes. If he can stay healthy, he could have his best season as a pro as the featured back in an offense lacking playmaking talent, and serving as a key crutch to build the confidence of rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.