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2019 Scouting Combine Through a Dolphins Lens – Defense

Travis Wingfield



Players, Traits, and Scheme Fits for the Miami Dolphins

Jump to Offensive Review

“If you removed all offensive players from the equation and only allowed defensive players to be drafted, New England would still get a great player with the 32nd pick in this draft. That’s the depth of this defensive group.”

Daniel Jeremiah made no qualms about the strength of the 2019 NFL Draft. With stars abound, particularly on the line, the Dolphins have an opportunity to inject Brian Flores’ young, ascending defensive personnel with blue chip talent.

First, some housekeeping as it pertains to one incumbent pass rusher.


Rumors have attached Trey Flowers to the Dolphins over the weekend, but a source close to Flores told me that he’d “be shocked if [Flores] overpays for Flowers…he was helped by the scheme.”

Before we dive into the rookie prospects, a brief review on the measurements and metrics of the 2018 Patriots defense. This will give us an idea of what Flores and company are searching for across all three levels of the defense.

Interior Defensive Line

Malcolm Brown 320 lbs. 5.05 40-yard dash, 7.84 3-cone, 32.5 arms, 98 broad, 29.5 vert
Lawrence Guy 315 lbs. 4.96 40-yard dash, 7.6 3-cone, 32.75 arm, 29 vert
Danny Shelton 345 lbs. 5.64 40-yard dash, 7.99 3-cone, 32 arm, 30.5 vert, 95 broad
Adam Butler 300 lbs. 5.23 40-yard dash, 7.51 3-cone, arm, 28.5 vert, 101 broad

Defensive Ends

Adrian Clayborn 280 lbs. 4.83 40-yard dash, 7.30 3-cone,32.5 arm, 113 broad, 33 vert
Trey Flowers 265 lbs. 4.93 40-yard dash, 7.34 3-cone, 34.25 arm, 121 broad, 36.5 vert
Derek Rivers 250 lbs. 4.61 40-yard dash, 6.94 3-cone, 32.75 arm, 35 vert, 123 broad
John Simon 260 lbs. 4.62 40-yard dash, 7.10 3-cone, 34.25 arm, 34 vert, 121 broad
Dietrich Wise 275 lbs. 4.92 40-yard dash, 7.07 3-cone, 35.5arm, 33 vert, 125 broad

Inside ‘Backers

Elandon Roberts 238 lbs. 4.60 40-yard dash, 7.23 3-cone, 36 vert, 120 broad

Outside ‘Backers

Dont’a Hightower 260 lbs. 4.68 40-yard dash, 7.55 3-cone, 32.5 arm, 32 vert, 117 broad
Kyle Van Noy 250 lbs. 4.71 40-yard dash, 7.22 3-cone, 31.5 arm, 32.5 vert, 112 broad
Brandon King 220 lbs. 4.49 40-yard dash, 7.28 3-cone, 38 vert, 127 broad
Albert McClellan 235 lbs. 4.81 40-yard dash, 7.24 3-cone, 36.5 vert, 119 broad


Duke Dawson 190 lbs. 4.46 40-yard dash, 7.02 3-cone
Stephone Gilmore 202 lbs. 4.40 40-yard dash, 6.61 3-cone, 31 arm, 36 vert, 123 broad
J.C. Jackson 198 lbs. 4.46 40-yard dash, 6.92 3-cone, 31.5 arm, 35.5 vert, 120 broad
Cyrus Jones 195 lbs. 4.33 40-yard dash, 7.25 3-cone, 30.25 arm, 36 vert, 123 broad
Jason McCourty 195 lbs.  4.3 40-yard dash, 6.67 3-cone, 36.5 vert, 125 broad
Obi Melifonwu 225 lbs. 4.40 40-yard dash, 4.58 3-cone, 32.5 arm, 44 vert, 141 broad


Devin McCourty 195 lbs. 4.48 40-yard dash, 6.70 3-cone, 32 arms, 36 vert, 126 broad
Patrick Chung 215 lbs. 4.51 40-yard dash, 7.11 3-cone, 34 vert, 119 broad
Duron Harmon 205 lbs. 4.51 40-yard dash, 7.02 3-cone, 36 vert, 125 broad
Nate Ebner 215 lbs. 4.51 40-yard dash, 6.59 3-cone, 39 vert, 128 broad

Defensive Edge (Options for 5-techs, 7-techs, and on-ball outside linebackers)

Montez Sweat (Mississippi State) stole the show with a 4.42 forty, but the jaw-dropping didn’t stop there. With 35.75” arms, a 36” vert, 125” broad, and 7.0 three-cone, Sweat might’ve worked his way ahead of Miami’s pick at 13. The tape and all-star performance (Senior Bowl) corroborates the impressive workout.

Another Senior Bowl standout, TCU’s Ben Banogu is a candidate to stand up and play on-the-ball linebacker in Miami. He testes through the roof at 250 pounds with 33.5” arms, 40” vert, and 134” broad jump. He’s quick as all get out and can drop into the flats and hook zone in coverage.

Rahsaan Gary (Michigan) isn’t likely to make it 13, but the Michigan product would be a plug-and-play impact player on day-one. 280 pounds, 34.25” arms, 38” vert, 120” broad, 7.26 3-cone, and a 4.58 forty, it’s safe to say Gary made some money Sunday.

Gary’s Michigan teammate Chase Winovich had a monster day in his own right. A master of the push and pull (stack and shed) technique, Winovich is all gas all the time. His athleticism is questionable on tape, but he blew the door’s off the combine with a sub 7.0 three-cone, 30.5” vert, 116” broad jump, and a 1.57 10-yard split. Winovich checked in at 260 pounds and could be a plug-and-play starter on day-two of the draft.

Son of a former Dolphins cheerleader, Boston College’s Zach Allen is a prototypical fit in Miami’s defense. A trophy case full of hardware, including the Campbell Trophy for academic prowess, Allen’s work ethic and intelligence jive well with Miami’s vision. He’s 281 pounds with 34.25” arms, 32” vert, and 112” broad jump.

If the Dolphins strikeout on Trey Flowers (or opt to save the cash), Charles Oeenihu (Texas) is comparable from a measurement standpoint. The Texas product is 275 pounds with an absurd 36 inch arms.

Eastern Michigan’s Max Crosby tested better than expected He’s 255 pounds with 33” arms, a 36” vert, 122” broad, and a ripping-quick 6.89 three-cone.

Interior Defensive Line (Options for 3-techs, 4i, 2i, 2, and nose tackle)

We can safely remove Quinnen Williams (Alabama) from this group. He played like Ndamukong Suh at Nebraska, tested like Suh, and will be draft as highly as Suh.

Christian Wilkins (Clemson) is well within the Dolphins range and will likely be squarely in their crosshairs. He had a great workout and checks every box Miami looks for in a player.

UCF’s Trysten Hill made a lot of money on Sunday. After starting every game for the undefeated 2017 team, Hill started just one in 2018, but flashed the big-time measurables that made him a wrecking ball inside. Hill’s explosion metrics (10-yard split, 35” vert, 115” broad) and length (34” arms) puts this specimen on the Dolphins’ radar. At 308 pounds, Hill fits the 4i, 3, 2i, and 2-techinuqe requirements.

Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery tested off the charts, but antiquated scouting techniques could turn Miami away. Tillery has many interests outside of football, but that didn’t stop him from flashing elite potential in a few games (Stanford tape, four sacks) and blowing up the combine.

L.J. Collier, from TCU, fits the prototype inside. At 283 pounds, Collier jumped 30” in the vert, 118” in the broad jump, and measured with 34” arms. Collier can two-gap and might come off the board in the second round.

Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones fits the part. At 281 pounds with 34 inch arms, Jones has the heavy hands Dolphins DC Patrick Graham is looking for. Jones has the make-up to play all over the defensive line and cause havoc as an interior rusher on passing downs. His 31” vert showcases the explosion in his lower half.

Khalen Saunders of Western Illinois didn’t test well after making a name for himself in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. Knocking him back a round or two could benefit the Dolphins lack of depth on the inside.

Kansas’ Daniel Wise has the length and ability to lock out the edge in Miami’s new scheme. Daniel is the brother of Patriots Defensive End Dietrich Wise.

Florida’s Jachai Polite left the combine early and has been accused of faking an injury. Polite made headlines in the media portion of the combine for expressing his displeasure with the entire process – he torpedoed his value, but he’s a supremely talented edge rusher.


This is not a great crop of linebackers. The two Devin’s (Bush and White, from Michigan and LSU respectively) tore the lid off the forty-yard dash. Hit, run, cover – that’s the new age of linebackers.

Miami are in a tricky spot with this position. Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker, and Chase Allen all fill specific roles in a defense that doesn’t rely too heavily on linebackers, but the unicorn that is Dont’a Hightower, and the catalyst of the Pats front-seven, doesn’t have a carbon copy on the market this year.

USC’s Porter Gustin might be the closest to that mark. He goes 255 pounds with a 4.71 forty, 35.5” vert, 119” broad, and a tremendous tape reel of blitzes. The medical is a concern, however, he’s missed games three out of four years at USC.

Former Safety Bobby Okereke (Stanford) tested as expected. At 240 pounds Okereke ran a 4.58 forty, with a 33.5” vert, 120” broad, 7.25 three-cone and 34.5” arms. He’s a tremendous blitz and cover prospect.

Utah’s Cody Barton is an impressive ball of clay. He went 237 pounds, 4.67 forty, 32” arms with a 32.5” vert and 116” broad jump.

BYU’s Sione Takitaki has been linked to the Dolphins since the Shrine Game. Takitaki’s explosive tape showed up in the workouts. He’s 240 pounds with a 37” vert, 125” broad and a 7.21 three-cone.

Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquil had himself a Sunday. At 234 pounds Tranquil ran a 4.57 forty, jumped 37.5” in the vert and 122” in the broad with a 6.94 three-cone time.

New Mexico State’s Terrill Hanks went from Senior Bowl darling to undraftable. Light and unrefined, Hanks was supposed to run like the wind but checked in with a dismal 4.98 forty.


At the start of the 2016 season the Dolphins traded for Byron Maxwell, drafted Xavien Howard and entered year-two of the Tony Lippett project. This signaled a change towards lengthy corners without much concern over timed speeds.

This prototype has become widespread across the NFL landscape. Corners aren’t pedaling but, rather, they’re playing with their butts to the sideline and preventing the big play via a lot of bail technique and off-coverage.

You’ll notice the size of a lot of these corners is rather imposing – and why wouldn’t it be? When Megatron Part Two (D.K. Metcalf) comes blazing down the field, someone’s going to have to put hands on him.

New England’s model of cornerbacks hasn’t followed this trend, however. The highest timed 40 on New England’s cornerback roster in 2018 was 4.46 seconds. The Patriots played more man-coverage than any team in football – an element Brian Flores will certainly bring to Miami.

Georgia’s DeAndre Baker is my top corner in the class. He has the confidence, the physicality and technique to go man-up with any receiver. He lacks long speed but his 4.53 40-time is good enough. He wasn’t a great tester but nobody will match his competitiveness in this class.

The only player that can give Baker’s competitive spirit a run for its money is LSU’s Greedy Williams. Williams oozes confidence, swagger, and play-making ability. He sometimes shies away from contact and that has always been a massive red flag under the Patriot Way. Greedy ran an impressive 4.38 at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds.

Rock Ya-Sin (Temple) is in that conversation with Baker and Williams. A two-time state champion wrestler, Ya-Sin was awarded a single-digit number in his first year at Temple (voted the toughest players on the team, by the team). He’s six-foot and 190, but plays much larger. His 4.53 40-time is good enough.

The winner for strange combine question of the week goes to Texas’ Kris Boyd. Asked if he still had both of his testicular, Boyd didn’t let that unnecessary, intrusive line of questioning stop him from destroying the workouts. Running a 4.45 at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Boyd’s 6.94 three-cone and 4.08 short-shuttle ranked near the top of the group.

Houston’s Isaiah Johnson (6-foot-2, 208 pounds and 4.40 forty) took a big leap up boards. He measured with 33 inch arms, a 36.5” vert, 133 inch broad, 6.81 three-cone and 4.06 short-shuttle.

Michigan’s David Long is going to be highly regarded by the Dolphins. Advanced on the white board and high-level recognition of route concepts, Long had the metrics to match. At 5-foot-11 and 196 pounds, Long ran a 4.47, jumped 120” in the broad and 39.5” in the vert. He clocked a sub-4 short-shuttle (3.97) and a ridiculous 6.45 three-cone.

Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting killed the tests. He comes in at 6-foot, 195 pounds, 31 ¼” arms, 41.5” vert, and a 126” broad. He’s a pure press-man corner.

Auburn’s Jameel Dean had the best forty (4.30) at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds.

The local product, Michael Jackson, made a case to stay in Miami. He measured 6-foot1, 200 pounds, and ran a 4.46 forty.


The Dolphins are in a predicament at the position. A ton of money is tied up in Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald, but neither are long-term solutions for the defense. Eventually, Miami needs a match-up piece in the mold of Patrick Chung, and a middle-of-the-field safety cut from the same cloth as Duron Harmon.

Nov 22, 2018; Oxford, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs safety Johnathan Abram (38) slaps Mississippi Rebels wide receiver A.J. Brown (1) during a fight at the end of the third quarter at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Juan Thornhill of Virginia fits the latter description. He won the day measuring 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, with a 4.43 forty, 44” vert, and an eye-popping 141” broad jump.

Johnathan Abram is a player the Dolphins will adore. The Mississippi State product plays angry, fast, and yet, somehow in control. He’s 6-foot, 211 pounds with a 4.5 forty, 33.5” vert, 117” broad, 7.03 three-cone, and a 4.2 short-shuttle.

Delaware’s Nassir Adderley did not work out due to an injury (he will at his pro day), but he’s in the fold for Miami in that 20-50 range.

Miami’s Sheldrick Redwine had a terrific day measure 6-foot, 190 pounds with a 4.47 forty, 39” vert, and 130” broad jump.

USC’s Marvell Tell didn’t run but he jumped out of the building. The former Trojan goes 6-foot-2 195 pounds, with a 42” vert, and 136” broad jump.

Saquan Hampton (Rutgers) measured 6-foot-1, 207 pounds and ran a 4.48 forty. He’s a pure ball hawk and an intelligent, dedicated player.

Dolphins Confirmed Defensive Player Meetings (Shrine, Senior Bowl, Combine):

Defensive Ends

Montez Sweat – Mississippi State
Nick Bosa – Ohio State
Jachai Pollite – Florida
Zach Allen – Boston College
Jalen Jelks – Oregon
Jordan Brailford – Oklahoma State
L.J. Collier – TCU
Charles Omenihu – Texas

Defensive Tackles

Quinnen Williams – Alabama
ED Oliver – Houston
Dexter Lawrence – Clemson
Armon Watts – Arkansas


Sione Takitaki – BYU
Joe Dineen – Kansas
Ben Banogu – TCU


Greedy Williams – LSU
Byron Murphy – Washington
Blace Brown – Troy


Tyree Kinnel – Michigan

First Round Options:

The way I see it, Miami aren’t trading up unless something unforeseen happens with Kyler Murray. Dwayne Haskins likely comes off early as well, leaving Miami with options, among others, as follows:

Stay at 13 and select:

DE Montez Sweat
DE Ed Oliver
DE Clellin Ferrell
DT Christian Wilkins
CB Greedy Williams
SAF Johnathan Abram

Trade Back and select:

CB DeAndre Baker
OC Garrett Bradbury
DT Dexter Lawrence
SAF Taylor Rapp
SAF Chaunce Gardner-Johnson
SAF Nassir Adderly

Lastly, this from Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel


1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Taylor Hemness

    March 5, 2019 at 7:02 pm

    Got a typo in the Banogu paragraph you may wanna fix. BIG fan of your incredibly in-depth work.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Chris Reed

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Looks like the Miami Dolphins have begun replacing the plethora of offensive linemen they either released or let walk this past offseason.

According to the Dolphins official social media account, the team signed offensive guard Chris Reed.

Details of the contract are currently unknown, but with the losses of Ja’Wuan James, Ted Larsen, Josh Sitton and possibly even players like Jake Brendel and Travis Swanson, the Dolphins need bodies to fill out their roster.

After signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent out of the 2015 NFL draft, Reed was placed on the team’s practice squad and wasn’t activated until September, 2016. Over the past three seasons, Reed has been active for 25 games and started 8 of them.

You can’t expect too much from this signing, as Reed is simply expected to compete for depth on the offensive line and it’s possible he doesn’t even make the team out of training camp. Then again, Ted Larsen was originally supposed to be offensive line depth and he ended up playing 1,272 snaps over the course of his two-year Dolphins career.

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Miami Dolphins

Rebuilding Previous Rebuilds

Jason Hrina



Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we have accepted the notion that the Miami Dolphins are going to start rebuilding their franchise in 2019 (and as a result, a lot of losing will incur), we have moved on to the optimistic hope that this team is going to build their foundation “right”.

Hope is about the only thing that will temper the frustration that comes with going 6-10 with freshly signed Ryan Fitzpatrick as our starting quarterback, so over the next calendar year, you’re going to hear how most decisions are geared towards 2020.

Sure, Fitzpatrick will dazzle us with a couple 400-yard passing games and a few offensive performances that trick us into believing that we don’t need to desperately grab a franchise quarterback, but don’t let those extremely inconsistent anomalies fool you. Miami most definitely needs a franchise quarterback – one that leaves us with minimal doubts at the top of the draft.

Are they going to trade up for one in 2019? Or are they going to, um, conveniently lose in 2019 and attempt to save their assets for 2020, where there’s a chance that four starting-caliber quarterbacks come out of college – all of whom are possibly better than the top-2 quarterbacks in this class: Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray?

As Travis echoed on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins are building a treasure trove of draft picks that will allow themselves to navigate the murkiest of trade waters in either 2019 or 2020. With the trade of Ryan Tannehill to the Tennessee Titans netting Miami an extra 4th-round draft pick – along with the assumption that losing Ja’Wuan James to the Denver Broncos will return an extra 3rd-round pick as a compensatory selection – Miami will have the ability to tack on whichever mid-round picks are required to seal the deal for a top-3 draft pick.

But with all of these assets in mind, can we confidently assume that the Dolphins are just one year away from being a relevant franchise that can sustain success? No, not one bit.

Since Chris Grier took over as the Director of College Scouting in 2007, Miami has had 5 drafts in which they have had at least 9 draft picks to work with. Although it’s obvious that not every draft pick is going to pan out, the assumption is that a team should be able to identify enough cheap labor to fill their roster. You don’t need superstars in every round, though it would be nice if the Dolphins drafted even one of them.

Before you get ready to soak in the success of 2020, I’m going to remind you of the somber past we have together. Hopefully, Grier doesn’t allow history to repeat itself:


Chris Grier’s first year on the job yielded Miami with multiple draft steals, but came with an ample amount of draft busts as well.

Whether the selection was general manager Randy Mueller‘s, head coach Cam Cameron‘s, Grier’s, or a combination of the three, the Miami Dolphins shocked everyone by selecting Ted Ginn Jr with the 9th-overall pick in the draft.

Choosing Ted Ginn Jr over Brady Quinn proved to be the correct choice, but was Ginn really the player you wanted to commit a top-10 pick to? Especially when he was coming off of an injury and was seen more as a dynamic kick returner than an elite, #1 receiver?

Here are a few players taken shortly after Ginn was picked #9: Patrick Willis (11), Marshawn Lynch (12) and Darrelle Revis (14). I was going to include Lawrence Timmons (15th-overall), but I don’t think Miami fans are going to think too fondly of that linebacker (though let’s be honest, he was still a better pick than Ginn).

But the Miami Dolphins had 10 draft picks in 2007, and should have been able to build a team with more than just a failed 1st-round pick, right? Alas, this is what they graced us with that year:

Paul Soliai in the 4th-round and Brandon Fields in the 7th-round ended up being phenomenal choices for the Dolphins, as both players combined to play 227 games with Miami. Even Samson Satele was a good selection in the 2nd-round; Miami just doesn’t understand their own talent and allowed Satele to be a good starting center for two other teams instead of their own.

The rest of that draft class? Combined to be active for 32 games with the Dolphins. All of which were off the team by the start of the 2008 season.


Coming off of a 1-15 season that felt less like a rebuild and more like a purgatory, the Dolphins were now poised to genuinely begin their ascension with the 1st-overall selection in the draft.

The thing is, Miami’s biggest mistake wasn’t selecting Jake Long with the #1 overall pick, but bringing an archaic Bill Parcells on board to build a team for the future.

Parcells figured there was no sense having a franchise quarterback if there was no one to protect him (the opposite logic of what the Dolphins did with Ryan Tannehill throughout his career), and selected Jake Long to protect whoever’s blindside.

You might be able to excuse Parcells for selecting a potential hall of fame left tackle (for the first four years of their career) over Matt Ryan, since Miami did have 8 more draft picks that year. Instead, this is how the draft shook out:

Kendall Langford was a solid player on the Dolphins defensive line throughout his rookie contract, but other than Jake Long he was the only player to plug a hole on the roster. You can say Chad Henne played prominently for the Dolphins, but we all know he was a detriment more than a solution, and even forced Miami to pick yet another quarterback in the 2nd-round the following draft.

Phillip Merling gave us that exciting interception against Brett Favre and the New York Jets the year Chad Pennington led the team to the playoffs, but other than that, he was basically an extra 1st-round pick that ended up being a complete bust.

After two years and 19 draft picks, the Dolphins should have set themselves up to be a young team worth reckoning with. Looking back, there were really only 5 players that filled a capable roster spot: Satele, Soliai, Fields, Long and Langford. For reference, NFL rosters held 52 players…


After two failed drafts and nearly 19 wasted draft picks, the Miami Dolphins actually got a draft right. This comes with the caveat that it’s the third-consecutive year in which the team is selecting a quarterback in the 2nd-round, so it tells you just how lost the Dolphins really are.

Pat White was a fascinating college athlete to watch, but he had no business being a quarterback in the NFL. The football community was stunned to see White selected so high, but the Dolphins envisioned a quarterback that could complete their wildcat offense and keep opposing defenses confused at all times.

The only confusion White caused was on Miami’s offense, because the playbook was extremely small for the limited quarterback, and the offense was stale at best.

Miami’s best selections came from Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. The team also envisioned having a pair of young, cheap, shutdown corners to give Tom Brady, Brett Favre and whoever the Buffalo Bills had hell. And they were really onto something for a little bit, but Joe Philbin‘s inability to handle egos mixed with some immaturity on the player’s side “forced” the Dolphins to trade Davis and allow Smith to leave in free agency.

At the time, this was a very good draft, but looking back at it, it’s just some more disappointment:

Brian Hartline received a contract extension with the team and probably outperformed all of our expectations. Maybe it speaks to the lack of playmakers the Dolphins have had over their history, but Hartline has the 7th most receiving yards and 9th most receptions in Dolphins history. We can knock the extension as a separate topic, but selecting Hartline in the 4th-round was a very good draft pick.

Chris Clemons ended up playing 80 games with the Dolphins and served as a valuable depth player for 5 seasons.

This can be deemed a good draft for the Dolphins, but the problem is, we’re excited the team was able to find 3 starters. While every team would love to say they found 3 starters in each draft, the Dolphins didn’t have much of a roster around those guys, which meant the team hadn’t rebuilt much of anything up to this point.

A budding franchise looking to sustain success is going to need more than a good #3 receiver to escape mediocrity.


2012 was another very good draft for the Dolphins that saw virtually no sustained success going forward. This is the point where you have to wonder if the Miami Dolphins legitimately try to win or if they’re fine creating media headlines and bringing in ad revenue.

Ryan Tannehill was the first 1st-round quarterback the Dolphins selected since Dan Marino back in 1983. Between all of the excitement and optimism, fans were sold on the fact that Tannehill was going to turn the team around (after he firmly learned the quarterback position). His old coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, was set to be his offensive coordinator, so you know Miami was really building this thing right because, you know, “chemistry”.

7 seasons later, and there are no surviving members of the 2012 draft class. In fact, only one of them made it past year 4 (Tannehill) – which also happens to be the same number of players eventually arrested from this draft class (Jonathan Martin).

How can a team sustain success when the team doesn’t sustain any of their successful players?

Olivier Vernon and Lamar Miller proved to be great risks that Jeff Ireland took. Coming right out of the Dolphins backyard from the University of Miami, Vernon and Miller were underclassmen that Ireland saw potential in. And he was right.

Both outperformed their draft status and earned themselves wealthy contracts in free agency. This goes back to the argument that the Dolphins are incompetent when it comes to signing their own draft picks, so overall, this draft doesn’t seem like much, but this draft could have been much more than a free agent payday for 3 of their selections.

Rishard Matthews was one of the best 7th-round picks in Dolphins history, but Philbin’s deadpan personality placed Matthews on the bench for most of his rookie contract rather than the starting lineup ahead of players like B.J. Cunningham and Legedu Naanee.

As of 2019, the Dolphins are still looking for a player at every position from the list of 2012 draft picks (QB, RT, DE, TE, LB, WR and DT). You can say Miami doesn’t need a running back, but that’s also the easiest position to find and it’s not even like the team currently has a solidified running back room anyway.


Identifying a “can’t-miss” athlete in an inactive market, Jeff Ireland made one of the best draft-day trades of the century and traded the team’s 1st-round pick (12th-overall) and 2nd-round pick (42nd-overall) to move up to #3 overall. That kind of trade would be unheard of today, where those top picks are commodities that you have to pry away with current and future draft capital.

So what did the Dolphins do with their robbery? Select a stellar athlete with a history of demons that rivals that of Josh Gordon.

Dion Jordan was built to be a football player, but he never actually wanted to be a football player. He wanted to escape reality and realized this was a profession he was good at. Fortunately for Jordan, but unfortunately for the Dolphins, Jordan took 5 years to mature past all of those inner turmoils and emerge as a defensive threat.

But like the theme of this article, his success doesn’t benefit the Miami Dolphins one bit.

Dion Jordan wasn’t the only player to fail Miami’s expectations yet perform better elsewhere.

2nd-round pick Jamar Taylor was always hampered by injuries and was shipped to the Cleveland Browns for a 27 slot draft boost in the 7th-round (a farcry from #54 overall). Dion Sims was a solid backup and blocking tight end before cashing in with the Chicago Bears. Mike Gillislee was a decent kick returner who has seen a good amount of success as a running back with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. Even Caleb Sturgis was viewed as a “bust” and has since played 36 games for other teams.

You could argue that Don Jones was Miami’s best draft pick behind Dion Sims that year, and that’s only because he was a very good gunner on special teams.

Truth is, the Dolphins have had plenty of opportunities to rebuild and yet, years later, here we are, still trying to rebuild. So now that Chris Grier has ultimate control, will this be the rebuild the Dolphins finally turn it around? 6th time’s a charm, right?

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Miami Dolphins

Free Agent Analysis: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

Travis Wingfield



Buckle up, Phins Fans – the Fitzmagic Roller Coaster is coming to your town

Ryan Fitzpatrick is on his eight NFL team following a circuitous route that spans 14 seasons as a professional football player. The journeyman stopgap heads to America’s retirement home on a two-year contract that starts at $11 million and could escalate to $20 million if unspecified incentives are met.

Though details of the contract’s structure are not yet available, it’s a near certainty that the bulk of the money will be paid out in year-one. With the Dolphins eating a chunk of dead cap, and pushing assets down the road, this move not only helps Miami get closer to the salary floor, it secures a sturdy backup quarterback for the 2020 season.

Whether it’s Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm or any other quarterback prospect, Fitzpatrick has been heralded for his calm demeanor and approach to providing this very important element to his past teams.

Barring a trade-up for one of the top two prospects in this draft Fitzpatrick will be under-center when the Dolphins open the season on the second Sunday in September. Only one September ago, Fitzpatrick was on an unprecedented roll for a quarterback of his caliber – of any caliber, really.

After the three-game stretch of consecutive 400 yard outputs, Fitzpatrick throttled into a nosedive throwing for less than 250 yards in four of his next five starts. Cumulatively, his passer rating on the season was 100.4, but he failed to eclipse the 90.0 mark in all but one of his final six starts.

The strengths and weaknesses of Fitzpatrick’s game are abundantly clear. Where the flashes with Ryan Tannehill provided false hope, Fitzpatrick is an open book – it only takes a couple of games of all-22 to figure out exactly who he is.

First, the strengths. I’ve talked at length about the importance of a backup quarterback providing the locker room and huddle with a sense of comradery. Whether it’s this season or next, Fitzpatrick will eventually be relegated to the number-two QB. The Ewing Theory suggests that the rest of the roster can elevate its game when the backup enters the lineup, but that typically only applies when said backup is likable.

That clip also showcases the gamer-mentality of Fitzpatrick. With reckless abandon, he’ll take a hit for his team in a way you’d never want your franchise quarterback to play.

As for Fitzpatrick the starter, the strength of his game is also his biggest weakness. He trusts his eyes as much as any quarterback going right now and will let ‘er rip without hesitation. There’s a hint of Matt Moore in his game where he evaluates pre-snap and makes quick decisions based on the leverage of the defense.

The first touchdown of the season for Tampa Bay provides a terrific example of Fitzpatrick’s ability to move the defense with his eyes and hips. The clip also showcases his strength as a play-action passer when given a comfortable pocket.

There’s a reason he’s been on eight teams in 14 years, however. That anticipation, coupled with sloppy mechanics, gets him into a lot of hot water. If the defense is at all nuanced, and capable of disguising coverage, he’s going to turn the ball over a heck of a lot.

Randomly, the ball will sail as he is prone to rushing his setup and spraying bullets all over the field. Pressure in his face only amplifies this shortcoming.

All things told, this was the best veteran option available both in terms of playing time and veteran mentor to the inevitable draft pick coming in a year or two. There will be equal parts excitement and sheer frustration with Fitzpatrick playing in Miami.

As far as the Tank for Tua conversation, this signing likely solidifies that Miami will not be the worst team in football. I’ve argued that they would never reach those valleys to begin, even with a rookie or Luke Falk under-center. I believe too strongly in Brian Flores and the staff he has assembled for this team to lose a number of games in the teens. Fitzpatrick at least gets Miami out of the massive hole of unworthy NFL quarterback territory.

Ideally, the Dolphins find their quarterback straight away and never have to start Fitzpatrick. The more likely outcome is that he starts the season and puts the Dolphins in a tough spot regarding the playing time incentives in his contract.

This signing is great from a financial standpoint right now, but if the Harvard product (had to get it in) starts hitting those contract escalators, that would not be ideal.


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