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2019 NFL First Round Mock and Dolphins 7-Round Mock

Travis Wingfield

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32 First Round Pick Projections and 9 Dolphins Pick Projections

My final mock of the 2019 draft season is also my first — at least when it comes to picks 1-32. Pumping out multiple 32-team simulations feels like an exercise in redundancy.

Team-oriented mocks, however, help the fan base become familiar with the particular positions that will offer the most value with each pick – hence the multiple seven-round mocks I have personally divulged on the podcast for the better part of the last three months.

This entry will satisfy both aspects of the mock season. In order to best gage the available talent at picks 48 and 78, I felt it necessary to run through the first 77 picks, pick-by-pick.

Should you choose to do the same, you’ll come across the same realization that hit me near the end of round-one — the board is quickly picked clean.

Without any further hesitation, let’s get to the official Locked On Dolphins NFL Mock Draft 1.0.

1. Arizona Cardinals – QB Kyler Murray – Oklahoma

The decision to hire Kliff Kingsbury leaves little to the imagination for this year’s top pick. A no-brainer, the Cardinals inject the best play-making quarterback to enter the league since Michael Vick into an offense that was previously lifeless.

2. San Francisco 49ers – DE Nick Bosa – Ohio State

The best player on many-a-draft-boards, Bosa fits both BPA and needs-drafting philosophies at this pick. John Lynch needs to start getting his drafts right if he is to retain his job and this is an excellent first step in securing his standing in the Bay Area.

3. New York Jets – DT Quinnen Williams – Alabama

The casual Jets fan will be disgruntled by another interior defensive lineman, but the knowledgeable Jets fan will recognize that their team just secured one of the three elite talents in the class. Williams was mostly unblockable at Alabama and could help recharge the career of Leonard Williams.

4. Oakland Raiders – DE Josh Allen – Kentucky

Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden get the apple of their collective eye with college football’s most productive pass rusher in 2018 falling to the fourth pick. Allen starts on the edge from the work go in Oakland.

5. *TRADE* Cincinnati Bengals (from TB) – QB Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State

Keeping Haskins in-state, Zac Taylor attaches his job to a cerebral, 21-year-old quarterback with plenty of room to grow. Paying a second-round pick to go up and get Haskins, to groom behind Andy Dalton (at least for a few games), is a small price to pay for a potential franchise signal-caller.

6. New York Giants – DT Ed Oliver – Houston

New York stays true to Dave Gettleman’s philosophy of focusing on trenches. This time, Gettleman gets it right with the rare specimen that is Ed Oliver. Oliver can play, quite literally, any position on the defensive line while offering pass rush and run-stopping prowess.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars – TE T.J. Hockenson – Iowa

Doubling down on the ground-and-pound mentality that brought Jacksonville to the doorstep of the Super Bowl two years ago, Doug Marrone gets a multi-faceted player with an extremely high floor. Hockenson functions in both aspects of the offensive game plan and helps ease the transition for new Quarterback Nick Foles.

8. Detroit Lions – DE Brian Burns – Florida State

Looking to replace the production lost via Ezekiel Ansah and Eli Harold, Matt Patricia bookends his newest toy (Trey Flowers) with an athletic marvel in Burns. Burns’ first step, and ability to turn the corner, could lead to terrific sack production at the next level.

9. Buffalo Bills – OT Jawaan Taylor – Florida

After giving Josh Allen a track team at the skill spots, it’s time for GM Brandon Beane to protect his franchise quarterback. Mitch Morse solidified the interior while Jawaan Taylor is a plug-and-play starter at right tackle — currently a massive void on Buffalo’s roster.

10. Denver Broncos – QB Drew Lock – Missouri

John Elway can talk about Joe Flacco entering his prime (LOL) all he wants, but if Elway enters the year without a contingency plan, it’s difficult to see him returning in 2020. Reports have linked Elway to Lock for months and it finally comes to fruition with the 10th pick.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – LB Devin White – LSU

Acquiring more draft capital and landing the top linebacker in the draft is a homerun for Bruce Arians and company. White is a three-down linebacker with an infectious attitude that can replace the production and leadership vacated by Kwon Alexander’s departure.

12. Green Bay Packers – OT Jonah Williams – Alabama

The best tackle, on tape, in college football last year, Williams’ long-term projection is to take over outside in Green Bay. He can start at guard immediately and gives the Pack a contingency plan behind Right Tackle Bryan Bulaga, who has missed games all but two years of his nine-year career.

13. *TRADE* New York Giants (from MIA) – QB Daniel Jones – Duke

Without a Josh Rosen deal done, Gettleman phones up Miami with an offer to get ahead of Washington to get the successor to Eli Manning. The Giants are loaded with mid-round draft picks and decide to send the 96th and 133rd picks to Miami to secure the QB position.

14. Atlanta Falcons – OC Garrett Bradbury – NC State

Thought by many as the best lineman in this class, Atlanta gets some much needed interior help. Alex Mack is 33, but Bradbury can play guard before transitioning into the Falcons’ long-term center.

15. Washington – WR D.K. Metcalf – Ole Miss

With the board developing in this fashion GM Bruce Allen will likely work the phones to see about Josh Rosen, so why not give him the top WR on the board? Metcalf is a difficult cover, despite some stiffness, and provides a shot in the arm for a wanting Washington passing offense.

16. Carolina Panthers – OT Dalton Risner – Kansas State

Carolina has done a poor job of protecting Cam Newton recently, and with the emphasis on the ground-game, a nasty mauler in the mold of Risner makes a lot of sense. He can play Right Tackle and Center giving the Panthers options.

17. *TRADE* Houston Texans (from MIA) – OL Cody Ford – Oklahoma

After Miami’s first trade, the board broke perfectly. With two more offensive linemen coming off the board Houston’s urgency to get Deshaun Watson some help grew tenfold. Ford is, far-and-away, the best OL prospect on the board and Miami scoops up another third-round pick to slide back six spots satisfying the team’s desire to acquire multiple additional picks.

18. Minnesota Vikings – OT Andre Dillard – Washington State

The run of the offensive line made for a near nightmare scenario for the Vikings, as Dillard is the last remaining lineman with a potential top-20 grade left on the board. Minnesota has two starting tackles in-house, but could certainly use an upgrade over Brian O’Neill.

19. Tennessee Titans – DT Christian Wilkins – Clemson

Jurrell Casey has been the entirety of Tennessee’s interior pressure for far too long. The Titans pluck a terrific football player, a better human being, and a real pain in the ass to deal with on third downs in Wilkins.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – LB Devin Bush – Michigan

It’s tremendous to see the growth Ryan Shazier has made in his recovery from a devastating spine injury, but the Pittsburgh defense has never been the same since he went down — enter Devin Bush. Bush is the three-down thumper the Black and Gold desperately needs.

21. Seattle Seahawks – S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – Florida

Seattle needs better safety play after losing two legendary members of their famed Legion of Boom (Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas) the last two years. CGJ is an immediate 100% snap-taker who can play single-high or come down and cover the slot.

22. *TRADE* Green Bay Packers (from BAL) – TE Noah Fant – Iowa

The Jimmy Graham experiment went awry quickly and Aaron Rodgers needs another weapon in the middle of the field. After splurging on defense in free agency, Green Bay spends its two first-rounders on supporting its all-time great quarterback.

23. Miami Dolphins – DE Chase Winovich – Michigan

Double majoring in preparation and production, Winovich has vaulted up draft boards throughout the process. His combine workout was elite, his interview skills were reportedly terrific, he’s sharp on the white board and he can play both the run and the pass. Winovich checks every box that the Dolphins want in a player.

24. Oakland Raiders – WR Hakeem Butler – Iowa State

Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams are an excellent start to reshaping the passing targets Derek Carr has at his disposal, but adding a power forward to the group is too attractive to pass up. Butler plays the game above the rim and can help the Raiders red zone woes.

25. Philadelphia Eagles – S Nasir Adderley – Delaware

Philadelphia adds another versatile safety in Adderley. His range, cover-skills, and return ability make him a viable option to get onto the field as a rookie before eventually taking the reins for an aging group.

26. Indianapolis Colts – DE Rashan Gary – Michigan

Each draft has a story about a player falling, and this year that distinction belongs to Mr. Gary. His production never matched the traits, but GM Chris Ballard knows value when he sees it. The Colts dramatic shift from a finesse team, into a bully, continues with another solid addition to the trenches.

27. Oakland Raiders – CB Byron Murphy – Washington

The cornerback slide ends with Oakland going to the BPA strategy. The Raiders have some nice corners in-house, none of which can match Murphy’s versatility across schemes or rare instincts for the position.

28. Los Angeles Chargers – DT Dexter Lawrence – Clemson

The nimble, 340-pound Lawrence is an oxymoron by every sense of the word. He’s immovable against the run and will occasionally offer interior pressure. Lawrence could stand to drop 10 pounds and really capitalize on the rare power-quickness combination he already presents.

29. Kansas City Chiefs – CB Greedy Williams – LSU

The cornerback run starts now with Kansas City looking to supplement a pass defense that never recovered from the loss of Marcus Peters. Play makers that can help get the ball back to Patrick Mahomes are a point of emphasis in this KC defense.

30. Baltimore Ravens – DL Jeffery Simmons – Mississippi State

A gamble by Eric DeCosta, Simmons is a top-five talent that stumbles down the board because of a recent ACL tear. The numbers aren’t great on players recovering from injuries that rob them of their rookie campaigns, but the last player with Simmons’ upside to experience something similar is Dallas’ star linebacker, Jaylon Smith.

31. Los Angeles Rams – OC Erik McCoy – Texas A&M

McCoy climbs up boards the more folks plug in his tape – he’s really, really good. The Rams need interior line help and can utilize McCoy’s versatility to double down on their complex running scheme and screen game.

32. New England Patriots – DE Clelin Ferrell – Clemson

Like Rashan Gary, Ferrell takes a tumble down the board because of the premier defensive line talent ahead of them. Ferrell’s slide is the Patriots gain as Bill Belichick pounces on a good looking prospect at a position of need.

 

That brings us to the rest of Miami’s draft. I forecasted one more trade for the Dolphins, this time coming up the board in the second round. With the offensive line talent flying off the board, Chris Grier finds it paramount to move up to secure a plug-and-play Guard at the top of round-two.

Dolphins Trades
Acquired picks 17, 96, 133 in exchange for pick 13 with New York Giants (Daniel Jones)
Acquired picks 23, 87 in exchange for pick 17 with Houston Texans (Cody Ford)
Acquired pick 36 in exchange for picks 48 and 96 with San Francisco 49ers (Chris Lindstrom)

 

Round (Pick) Position Player School
1 (23) DE Chase Winovich Michigan
2 (36) G Chris Lindstrom Boston College
3 (78) S Darnell Savage Maryland
3 (87) DT Trysten Hill UCF
4 (117) OLB Justin Hollins Oregon
4 (133) C Lamont Gaillard Georgia
5 (152) RB James Williams Washington State
7 (235) CB Derek Baity Kentucky
7 (236 WR Penny Hart Georgia State

 

This is the framework of an ideal mock draft for Miami. Adding two more picks and hammering out a BPA strategy, while checking off the list of needs, this group of players adheres to the requirements filed by the new Dolphins brain trust.

Let’s go pick-by-pick and explain these selections.

1. (23) DE Chase Winovich – Michigan

A high-motor pass rusher with an obsession for preparation, Winovich falls into a similar bucket as Minkah Fitzpatrick did a year ago. He out produced the more physically gifted Rashan Gary at Michigan, and topped off his impressive final collegiate season with a near-perfect run up to the draft. Some might assume this is too high for Winovich, but he’s not going to be around when Miami picks again in round-two.

The Plan: With minimum development needed in his game, Winovich steps in as an immediate contributor. Miami’s multiple front scheme will balance Winovich across multiple roles including the 7-tech, 5-tech, and the occasional two-point on-ball edge linebacker role.

2. (36) OG Chris Lindstrom – Boston College

After picking up three additional picks via the two round-one trade backs, the Dolphins saw the decade-long solution at left guard starring back at them at pick 36. San Francisco was open for business needing more draft capital of their own.

There’s a theme with these players regarding their love of the game and Lindstrom falls right in line. He’s a mauler, a technician, and a leader. Lindstrom might go off the board earlier than this and he’s a legitimate option in the first if Miami are inclined to trade down. The Dolphins have spent a lot of time with Lindstrom during the process.

The Plan: Starting 47 games at BC, almost exclusively at right guard, Miami’s lone 16-game participant happens to be the RG incumbent, Jesse Davis. Lindstorm is a better player, however, and allows Miami to kick Davis out to right tackle removing Zach Sterup from the starting line-up.

3. (78) S Darnell Savage – Maryland

An alpha leader of the Maryland defense, Savage is the type of presence that’s impossible to ignore in a shared room. He has the explosiveness to showcase more range than we saw at Maryland, but he’s at his best when he can drive out of his zone position, lay the wood, and rob underneath and crossing routes. He slots right in as the long-term replacement for Reshad Jones.

The Plan: If Reshad Jones is in fact immovable, Savage is afforded a year to get his feet wet. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jones will play the base downs but Brian Flores is a big believer in three-safety packages (60% of the time last year) making Savage a primary defensive player early. Once Jones is gone, Savage will fill that role patrolling the hook-zone, robber role, and playing near the line-of-scrimmage.

3. (87) DT Trysten Hill – UCF

Strangely only starting one game last year under a new coaching staff, Hill’s tape is eye-catching — just as his combine workout was in March. He’s an interior pocket collapser with tremendous quickness, but he needs to refine his hand placement and technique – a project well within Marion Hobby’s wheelhouse.

The Plan: Coming off the bench initially as a sub package interior rusher, Hill’s technical refinement won’t be a concern in year-one — his only job will be to go get the quarterback. By 2020 Miami could realistically roll out a front line of Taylor, Godchaux and Hill.

4. (117) OLB Justin Hollins – Oregon

Miami is pretty well set at two linebacker positions, but Hollins gives them the inside-outside option they presently lack. Hollins is twitchy as all get out and could get even better with his length. He will need some development before he’s ready to play, but he provides Miami with a potential replacement for Kiko Alonso in 2020.

The Plan: Slotting in as the fourth linebacker initially, Hollins will use his rookie season to develop some nuance as an edge rusher. With his length and explosiveness, Hollins is a prime candidate to become a staple of the linebacker unit, but he needs to improve his functional strength and contact balance.

4. (133) OC Lamont Gaillard – Georgia

Gaillard’s draft projections are all over the place, so I stuck him smack dab in the middle of Miami’s class. He has the power to anchor against stout interior rushers, and enough athleticism to get out in space and up to the second level. Gaillard is the perfect competition for Daniel Kilgore.

The Plan: Miami have expressed their interest in letting someone compete with Kilgore (under contract for another season). Gaillard is power player who could use some seasoning and a year under Pat Flaherty’s tutelage — he serves as the primary backup center during his rookie season.

5. (152) RB James Williams – Washington State

Comfortably in this position for months, Williams was one of college football’s best pass catching backs in 2018. He can run the full running back route tree and is elusive in open space in the screen game.

The Plan: An immediate impact player on special teams, Williams will play the Rex Burkhead role on offense contributing with roughly 20% of the offensive snaps, primarily as a pass catcher. If Kenyan Drake is not brought back (expiring contract), Williams will see his role expand extensively in 2020.

7. (235) CB Derek Baity – Kentucky

Baity plays much larger than his frame and has the technique refinement that could eventually get him on the field on defense. It’s his desire and will to lay the wood, and exceptional tackling technique, that makes him a core special teamer as soon as his rookie season.

The Plan: Sure-tacklers always have a role on special teams. In the 7th round, if that’s all Baity ever becomes, the Dolphins will gladly except that ROI.

7. (236) WR Penny Hart – Georgia State

Hart’s Senior Bowl was impressive but his workouts, thereafter, were not. This might be a tad low, but his poor offseason puts Miami in a position to find a developmental slot receiver with game-breaking ability both on offense and in the return game.

The Plan: Potentially beginning his career on the practice squad, Hart’s primary value is at the return position, though that job is held by the dynamic Jakeem Grant. Hart provides early insurance behind Grant and Albert Wilson on the WR depth chart as both return from an injury.

Alternatively, here is a mock draft free of trades.

 

Round (Pick) Position Player School
1 (13) DT Christian Wilkins Clemson
2 (48) S Juan Thornhill Virginia
3 (78) OT Chuma Edoga USC
4 (117) OLB Justin Hollins Oregon
5 (152) S Mike Edwards Kentucky
7 (235) CB Derek Baity Kentucky
7 (236 WR Penny Hart Georgia State

 

With the multiple pathways (many needs) Miami can travel, a satisfying class almost doesn’t exist without acquiring more picks. With the two extra picks in the first mock, I feel confident in my ability to add reinforcements to the position rooms that need it most.

The focus, for both drafts, prioritized character, athletic traits, and defined roles within the program. Adding Wilkins to the Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor rotation essentially solidifies my interior defensive line. Wilkins can provide an interior rush the moment he arrives in Davie, FL.

Thornhill is the day-one center field safety (think Duron Harmon (61% of New England’s snaps last year)), while Edoga competes for the opening day right tackle job.

Hollins fits the same description from the original mock while Mike Edwards plays on special teams in year-one with the hopes of taking over Reshad Jones’ position in 2020.

Derek Baity and Penny Hart fit the bill for the three, aforementioned focal points.

A reminder that Locked On Dolphins will have the quickest, most comprehensive Dolphins draft coverage anywhere on the web next weekend.

Here, you can find the draft profiles we did last year. Film study, quotes from teammates and coaches, athletic measurements, scheme fit, projected role; everything about these players will be detailed on Locked On Dolphins dot com — as well as the Locked On Dolphins podcast.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa has IT.

Brian Flores is THE guy.

And I have to admit, Chris Grier has done a phenomenal job.

After an exciting 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (5-3), the Miami Dolphins (5-3) solidified themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the AFC. Sure, you can say we’re getting a bit cocky – we’ve watched our team falter plenty of times before. But do you get the sense that these are the same Dolphins we’ve been watching this century?

Right now, are you skeptical or optimistic?

Do you have butterflies because you’re nervous or because you’re excited?

Do you think the Dolphins are trying to survive each game or do you have confidence that they’ll win?

Coming off of 4-straight victories, it’s easy to feel like we’re on top of the world, but this team looks different. It feels different. They act different.

Below are a few thoughts following Miami’s promising 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Monday Morning Thoughts

Tua Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for

Admit it, when they originally ruled that throwaway an interception, you saw shades of every failed quarterback to come since Dan Marino.

That play was so comically bad that it easily could have defined Tua’s career if it didn’t pan out. Thankfully, it was ruled that the receiver’s foot was out-of-bounds and it was an incomplete pass – but imagine the memes that would have been unleashed if Miami lost this game and that play counted.

But, it didn’t count….and the Dolphins didn’t lose….and Tua Tagovailoa out-dueled Kyler Murray when it mattered most.

When the Dolphins needed a game-winning drive, Tua delivered. When Kyler Murray had an opportunity to tie it, he didn’t (along with an obscure Zane Gonzalez kick).

Tua’s elite pocket presence, accuracy, decision-making, and ball placement were all on display. And none of that accounts for the plays he made with his legs.

If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re thrilled with what you saw. And though it’s only a small sample size, I think we can all exhale – he looks like he’s the guy.

Byron Jones is still a damn good Cornerback

After three-straight dominant performances, Byron Jones was a bit humbled this game. We’re so used to watching him shut down opposing receivers that a game like this really sticks out.

He was absolutely burned by Christian Kirk on a beautiful deep ball from Kyler Murray late in the first quarter, but that wasn’t his worse play.

Dolphins fans and Byron Jones both thought he hauled in his first interception since October, 2017. Instead, Darrell Daniels’ first career touchdown reception is one of the highlights of the year as he snatches the ball right out of Jones’ hands.

I mean, Byron Jones had that ball in his hands for an interception, and before they hit the ground Darrell Daniels steals it into his possession. AND somehow had his knee down so it would count as a catch. Crazy.

Miami’s (really, it’s Brian Flores’) now infamous “zero” boom-or-bust scheme is susceptible to the long-ball, as our corners are expected to cover their receivers 1-on-1; with no safety help behind them. So far this season, it has worked tremendously to their advantage (as seen below)

But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:

With all of that said, Byron Jones is still a great cornerback in this league. Was this a bad game? Definitely. But I don’t expect this to become a trend. Lets not take for granted the elite secondary we currently have.

Christian Wilkins should NOT stop celebrating

Just please celebrate responsibly.

One of the reasons Dolphins fans adore Christian Wilkins is because of his infectious personality. He’s notoriously running in and celebrating every offensive touchdown with his team. His trash talking is innocently intimidating. The way he pumps his team up is perfect for any locker room culture. On top of the fact that he’s a pretty good defensive tackle.

Which is why I want him to keep celebrating – and I want him to continue celebrating excessively.

Preston Williams‘ unfortunate injury during a touchdown celebration is a huge reason why professional coaches like to contain their million-dollar players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. It makes sense, they’re valuable commodities, but Wilkins’ spirit is too valuable to douse.

If something like this happens again, then we can talk about stifling his excitement, until then….celebrate smarter.

Xavien Howard’s “penalties” tell half the story

Xavien Howard was tasked with shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, and he ended up accounting for more penalty yards (43) than receiving yards against him (30).

The real testament to Howard’s coverage throughout the game? DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league, didn’t see a single target in the first half of the game.

A couple (terrible) penalties shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Xavien Howard and Byron Jones may be the best cornerback tandem in the league.

The Miami Dolphins need a Running Back in the worst way

Jordan Howard‘s 8-yard run on the last drive of the game – which helped seal the victory – was his biggest play as a Miami Dolphin. Up to that point, I was kind of rooting for Howard to continue his 1 YPC average. If you take away that 8-yard run (EASILY his longest of the year), Howard has gained 25 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts (0.93 YPC).

Rookie Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, with 7 carries for 38 yards (5.4 YPC). I’m not sure how reliable he is, but he can’t be worse than Howard. If Matt Breida is available for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure Howard will once again be inactive, giving Ahmed another shot to prove himself.

We probably should have given Austin Jackson the week off

Austin Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time in 4 weeks (due to a foot injury) and was “ok”. He was beat on a few plays, but it’s evident he wasn’t 100%. I wouldn’t make any presumptions based off of this game; if anything, the reps help from an experience/mental perspective.

Jason Sanders is a stud

Jason Sanders connecting on 56 and 50-yard field goals are that much more impressive when you take into account that weird Zane Gonzalez miss (where he was short from 49 yards).

The conspiracy floating around is that the ball died (on Gonzalez’s kick) because the roof was open. Yet, Sanders made his 50+ yard field goals with room to spare.

Today’s the day we will never take Jason Sanders for granted as he surpassed Olindo Mare‘s franchise record of 19-straight field goals made.

The Miami Dolphins are going to “have to” extend Emmanuel Ogbah

I think we all would love to see a contract extension, but it’s bordering on a “necessity” at this point. Not just because we want to lock up a top-notch defensive end, but because he’s going to (rightfully) demand more financial security.

Though it always felt like he was on a one-year deal, this is technically the first year of a 2-year, $15m contract for Emmanuel Ogbah, but there’s no guaranteed money tied to 2021 – and there’s no way he’s playing like a $7.5m defensive end.

Jordan Phillips averages $10m a year with his recent contract, and I think it’s fair to say that Ogbah is worth more than that. Expect a holdout if the Dolphins don’t give him a raise and an extension this offseason. That’s not to say we should be concerned – I think Miami will look to make this extension a priority – but if they don’t see eye-to-eye expect a holdout to occur.

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Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a team sport.

Wins don’t individually define a quarterback’s success.

Yet everyone agrees that the only way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback that is better than (just about) every other franchise in the sport.

Once you have an upper-echelon quarterback, then you can talk about the nuances of creating a team. Whether it’s surrounding that quarterback with the proper talent, ensuring you’ve built the right scheme around them, or complimenting them with a staunch defense to complete a championship run, developing an entire roster means nothing if you don’t have a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs.

38 years ago, the Miami Dolphins selected a quarterback that would revolutionize the NFL.

A man decades before his time, the immediate success Dan Marino brought us – after 13 championship-caliber years with Bob Griese – shielded us from the horrors of football purgatory. Maybe it’s this curse of #13 that has us clamoring for football relevance after almost 50 years without a Super Bowl Championship.

We watched our franchise devolve from the model of perfection to a team without an identity; floundering desperately to find a viable quarterback for two decades.

And with one swift decision, the Dolphins simultaneously expunged their football idiocy of years past and exhibited the type of football prowess that should lead them to salvation.

Image Credit: South Florida Sun Sentinel

As we’re destroying the team for wasting 2nd & 5th-round picks on Josh Rosen, we’re praising them for building the foundation for future success. Gone are these false prophets of yesteryear, as the real prodigy we’ve all been yearning for is one step closer to leading the helm.

Once Tua Tagovailoa was selected 5th-overall in the 2020 NFL draft, Rosen’s exile was cemented. He was never going to have an opportunity to make it here, it was always going to be Tua Tagovailoa backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The grizzly, 13-year veteran handles the nuances of a young football team while the young, energetic and extremely talented rookie spends valuable time learning and developing.

That move…that single transaction…will forever symbolize the moment the Miami Dolphins transitioned from football purgatory to football relevance.

The Purgatory We Built

No one remembers the cost of a successful trade.

Off the top of your head, what did the New York Giants trade to swap Philip Rivers for Eli Manning? How much did Carson Wentz cost the Philadelphia Eagles when they traded up for him? I bet you all remember the litany of picks the Washington Football Team paid for Robert Griffin III, or how badly the Chicago Bears missed on Mitch Trubisky when they gave up a bunch of picks to move up from #3 to #2.

It’s because mistakes are always magnified for franchises that fail. As a fan base, we’ve been groomed to remember all the negative aspects of our favorite football team, because that’s all we’ve known for the better half of our adult lives.

After trudging through this wasteland for so long, we are finally ready to move past all of the detrimental mistakes that have cost us 20+ years of our lives – including the Josh Rosen trade.

Sure, you have your classics like failing to draft (and then sign) Drew Brees, drafting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers with the 2nd-overall pick, drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick, and trading a 2nd-round pick for A.J. Feeley.

It’s not that the Dolphins haven’t tried, it’s just that they have failed almost mightily when doing so.

I respect that Miami was aggressive in their pursuit of Josh Rosen – or for any of the other quarterbacks they’ve attempted to put under center – but their aggression was either misguided, ill-informed, or even desperate at best.

A year prior to Rosen’s draft-day trade, another draft-day trade was occurring – one that would transcend the Baltimore Ravens organization for the prolonged future. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson – a quarterback some Dolphins fans wanted with the team’s 11th-overall pick.

To move back into the first round and secure a quarterback with the 5th-year option, all Baltimore had to give up was an additional 2nd-round pick (see the full trade at the end of the article).

With their draft-day trade, the Baltimore Ravens landed an MVP.
With their draft-day trade, the Miami Dolphins landed a quarterback that was released for nothing.

Again, I don’t fault the Dolphins for being aggressive, but their pursuit was often awry.

The frustrating part of all of this may be that this team actually “spent” both in assets and money, they just didn’t seem to take that extra step at the right time.

Spending 2nd-round picks was fine 3 years in a row (with Chad Henne, John Beck and Pat White), but spending 2nd-round picks then became “too much” when they could have moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – instead, they stayed put at #22 and drafted Charles Harris.

Think about it, Miami’s best quarterbacks since Dan Marino were:

  • Castaway by the New York Jets (and subsequently got his shoulder destroyed like everyone predicted)
  • (Allegedly) Forced upon us by Stephen Ross because he knew what a new quarterback would inject into a flat-lining brand (ie: making $$)

Between Chad Pennington and Ryan Tannehill there is 1 playoff appearance and 0 playoff wins.

There are definitive reasons why the Dolphins are executing a rebuild in 2019-2020 – after attempting to rebuild numerous times already this century – and you can say that lots of it has to do with the Head Coaches that have been in place.

Watching Ryan Tannehill lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship came was the most-conflicted I’ve felt in a long time as a Dolphins fan. I was thrilled he was able to prove himself, but frustrated that my team was once again watching from the couch.

Heck, for all the praise we give Brian Flores, he couldn’t get Minkah Fitzpatrick to buy into his system – ultimately losing a near-Defensive MVP player to an organization that has been breathing success since the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season.

Miami hasn’t lacked talent – it’s why they’re constantly hovering around 8-8. The problem is, they lack the most important piece on the football field combined with the right leader to mold them. Which explains why they constantly sit around 8-8.

The Future We Created

But thoughts of perpetual 8-8 seasons are a thing of the past. The Dolphins may have drafted their future franchise quarterback back in April, but they officially rolled out their #1 prize just a few days ago. Coincidentally, just 3 days after Rosen was released.

The timing is likely coincidental, but who says omens have to be a bad thing?

This Dolphins team is young (thanks to Chris Grier), determined (courtesy of Brian Flores’ mindset), talented (after accumulating so many draft picks) and they’re wise beyond their years.

With a bounty of draft picks at their disposal once again in 2021, and with a franchise quarterback seemingly set to take over by season’s end, the future for the Miami Dolphins looks EXTREMELY bright.

After most “experts” predicted the Dolphins would go nearly winless – some even calling for criminal investigations to be conducted – Flores showed off his leadership and led Miami to a 5-11 record.

If the worst roster in the NFL can win 5 games, what can an improved roster accomplish?

Last year, there were too many holes on the roster to count. Now, you’re desperate to find a missing piece. In 12 months, we’ve gone from cringe-worthy to dynasty-bound in some expert’s eyes.

So have the Dolphins finally returned to football relevance?

If this team really identified the right Head Coach, and if Tua’s hip can stay healthy, then there’s no reason why the Miami Dolphins aren’t about to embark on a successful crusade that takes the rest of the NFL by storm.

Earlier this year, we lost one of the greatest leaders to ever bless our organization. In honor of the all-time wins leader, the Miami Dolphins will wear a patch signifying Don Shula’s record-setting 347 career wins.

And who knows, maybe this renaissance is Shula’s last gift to an organization – and a community – that he spent his life already giving so much to. The symbolism would be all-too coincidental otherwise.

The Baltimore Ravens/Lamar Jackson Trade:

Yes, I understand every other team passed on Jackson. I also understand the Ravens passed on him once when they selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick that year, but Baltimore has built a championship-caliber organization over the past two decades, while the Dolphins have accomplished one playoff win – I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.

The Lamar Jackson trade can be broken down like this:

  • Baltimore traded pick 52 (2nd-round) to move up to 32nd-overall (1st)
  • Baltimore also sent Philadelphia pick 125 in the deal, but they received pick 132 in return – a downgrade of 7 spots in the 4th-round.
  • Otherwise, all Baltimore spent was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 (which ended up being pick #53).

Full trade:

Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)

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Miami Dolphins

There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Think Brian Flores & Chris Grier aren’t smart?

After successfully navigating through all of the pre-draft smokescreens better than teenagers can survive the high school rumor mill, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to flourish for the next decade.

Yes, it’s something we’ve said before almost annually, but this time, there’s a clear foundation that will allow the roots of this franchise to prosper.

We’ve Heard This Before

Tony Sparano blossomed under the Bill Parcells‘ coaching tree in Dallas, bringing with him an aura of prominence and a pedigree for smash mouth football.

After a miraculous 10-game turnaround that took Miami from #1 overall in the draft to division winners, fans felt they had the proper leadership in place.

That was soon debunked when the Dolphins followed an 11-5 (2008) season with 7-9 (2009), 7-9 (2010) and 6-10 (2011). It’s not that any of us feel that Sparano was a bad coach, but it was more-than-evident that he was handicapped at the quarterback position.

The Dolphins go 11-5 in 2008 because their quarterback was the runner-up in the MVP race, and they falter to 7-9 after that because they decided to build around Chad Henne.

Good coach, but poor coaching decisions.

From there, the Dolphins hired one of the best human beings on the planet – Joe Philbin. The notorious problem with Philbin was: he couldn’t lead a football team.

Failing to rein in Vontae Davis‘ hangovers, everything regarding Richie Incognito, the Chad Ochocinco saga (check out this damning ESPN article from 2012, which gives you a glimpse into how the player’s felt about Philbin early on), and all of the Mike Wallace drama. Those football teams had some decent talent, yet were never better than a mediocre 8-8 in Philbin’s 4 years.

Great person, but terrible with people.

Adam Gase then took a 1-4 season and made the playoffs at 10-6. All the optimism surrounding Ryan Tannehill seemed justified, and we were ecstatic for the future. But we came to learn that Gase’s coaching talents resembled more of a glorified offensive coordinator, which left players feelings ostracized and without a sense of direction – especially those on defense.

Like Philbin, Gase wanted a group of players that followed him, rather than developing a strategy that tailored to his players’ strengths. He traded away (or failed to re-sign) productive players drafted by Grier in years past, just because he couldn’t handle them.

After a 10-6 start to his coaching career (2016), we watched our hopes dwindle to 6-10 (2017) – accompanied with $10m worth of embarrassing Jay Cutler highlights – and then 7-9 (2018) after the “quarterback guru” couldn’t get any production out of a 2019 Pro Bowl & AFC Championship quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.

Offensive visionary, but he couldn’t see past his own shortcomings.

So Why is This Different?

This would be the definition of insanity….if it meant that we were following the same trend.

Yes, we understand the eternal caveat that we won’t know for sure until we see the results, but after a successful 2019 – and a stellar 2020 draft that features plenty of starting potential – we’re not going too far out on a limb to say that they have our trust.

Going into a vital 2020 NFL draft where the team held 3 first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins’ future rested solely on the leis of Tua Tagovailoa. For months we were on edge, because, as Dolphins fans, we just figured they would screw it up. But once they secured their quarterback of the future, the plan was simple: protect him.

Not only was the plan to build a wall in front of him, but Grier and Flores identified that some of these positions take more time to develop than others. Rarely do offensive and defensive linemen jump right in and become dominant players. The difference between pancaking teenagers in college to moving a mountain-of-a-man in the NFL is colossal.

Rookies go through such a strenuous process to improve their draft stock – immediately after completing a full college season – that they are burned out by the time their rookie year is over. That’s exactly what happened to Michael Deiter towards the end of last season; it’s no surprise we see their performance start to slide after putting in so much work throughout the year.

Drafting Austin Jackson (18th-overall pick), Robert Hunt (39th), and Solomon Kindley (111th) means Miami is giving their rookies time to grow before being asked to protect their most-important asset since Dan Marino.

Instead of a trying to learn the nuances of the NFL with a rookie quarterback, they can learn how an offensive play is properly setup, executed and audibled under a veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

When it comes time to protect Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, they won’t have to worry if they understood the protection, if they’ll make a rookie mistake, or if they’ll naively and unintentionally do something embarrassing or costly. They’ll be able to focus on executing the play properly, giving Tua an ample amount of time to handle his own “rookie” adjustments.

With Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins acquire another player at a position that tends to need some time to grow. This move makes me wonder what the future holds for Davon Godchaux, who is expected to receive a very nice payday in free agency after this season, but for now, Miami can rely heavily on Godchaux and their 2019 1st-round pick, Christian Wilkins. Davis has the opportunity to learn under these two as he prepares to take on a much bigger role in 2021.

With their final 1st-round pick, Miami selected another young player at a cornerstone position. The adjustments rookie cornerbacks need to make when guarding an NFL receiver are somewhat substantial, and Noah Igbinoghene will be able to learn and make these adjustments while covering the opponent’s third or forth receiver – with the added security that he has an array of established and Pro Bowl veterans behind him.

This might hint at an ugly and somewhat inconsistent 2020 season, as roughly half of this roster is new to the team, but all of these young players will start to excel as Tua begins to transition into our full-time starting quarterback.

Which means the Miami Dolphins are ready to make a legitimate playoff run in 2021.

Is it possible all of these risks falter? Of course! Austin Jackson just turned 21 years old, and he wasn’t viewed as the best left tackle in college last season – he is a projection. Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t viewed as a 1st-round caliber cornerback, as most “experts” think he’s restricted to covering the slot rather than becoming a boundary corner. And then you have the general, inevitable fact that some of these picks just won’t pan out.

But we watched players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Raekwon McMillan, Vince Biegel and Nik Needham take the “next step” under Brian Flores stewardship. It only makes us wonder who he’ll coach up next.

Now that Flores is more-comfortable as a sophomore coach, and the team understands his “win no matter what” philosophy, Miami should naturally thrive in year two….right?

Like all of these other coaches before him, Flores is an absolute genius after year one. And like all those coaches before him, he’s one season away from looking like a dunce.

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