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Miami Dolphins

A Miami Guide to the 2019 Quarterback Draft Class

Skyler Trunck

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Miami is in the thick of their head coaching search, but let’s be honest, whomever the Dolphins hire won’t excite you quite like seeing a new quarterback line up under center.  Could Miami find the next Patrick Mahomes or Baker Mayfield in the draft? Maybe.

I assume most of you are like me and don’t have time to consume pages and pages of scouting reports to dissect all the prospects in this draft and how they’d fit in Miami.  In an attempt to solve that problem for quarterbacks, I have compiled the big-name prospects into a short, easily digestible list.

Please keep in mind it’s early in the scouting process as far as what information is available to the public.  As with the draft every year in January, it’s likely projections, analysis, etc. change as we close in on April 25-27.

I’d also like to credit and recommend sources such as The Draft Network and Rookie Scouting Profile who not only helped frame this write-up but also provide more in-depth detail and pros/cons of each prospect that go beyond the brief summaries used here.

Dwayne Haskins
*yet to declare

Accurate on all levels.  Has the velocity necessary for a NFL quarterback.  Seemingly-high football IQ. One year starter leading to questions on what he could be.

My take: Haskins is the top prospect in this class if he decides to declare.  He has potential, but not all experts are on-board with Haskins being a safe day 1 pick.  Being a one year starter removes the consistency and improvements some experts like to see year-to-year for quarterbacks worthy of an early round 1 pick.  As a Dolphins fan, if you’re wanting a quarterback to start day 1, this is one of the players you’ll want to keep an eye on. It’s likely Miami would need to trade up for a player like Haskins if they decide he is worth the gamble.

Projection: Round 1

 

Daniel Jones

Strong enough arm for the NFL and mobile.  Accurate at all levels but lacks consistency or experience in anything outside of a quick passing game.

My take:  Jones has climbed draft boards this year.  Miami will need to implement an offensive scheme to play to his strengths, the quick passing game.  A more complex system like the one ex-head coach Adam Gase featured likely won’t align well to Jones’ strengths.  Where we’re at today, it’s looking like Jones will be available when Miami selects at #13. Where Jones is a decent quarterback prospect, if Miami is targeting a high-ceiling prospect, it may be best to look over Jones, and truly at that point, look more towards the 2020 draft.  I’ll also add, which may not bode well with Miami fans, when I see Jones, I think of Ryan Tannehill.

Projection: Round 1-2

 

Drew Lock

Strong arm but can show some inconsistent accuracy across the field — still, mostly accurate at all levels.  Appears to have issues processing the field. Solid pocket presence. True boom or bust prospect.

My take: Intriguing quarterback who was hyped coming into this year.  He didn’t show the improvement you’d like to see in a four-year starter, but he has potential and could be something special in this league.  Due to his inconsistent play game-to-game and lack of major improvement in his four years at Missouri, it’s likely he falls more in the “bust” category when it’s all said and done.  He could be worth a day 2 pick for Miami if scouts find the high-end potential is there.

Projection: Rounds 1-2

 

Will Grier

Mid-level arm talent in regards to accuracy and strength but could improve with mechanical adjustments.  Smart, consistent player with ability to extend plays with his legs (for better or worse).

My take: “Freelancer” is a great term to describe Grier.  He has shown he can make almost every throw. For those who despise current Dolphins quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, for his lack of pocket awareness, a quarterback like Grier may be more to your liking.  To add on, he’d compare more to Jay Cutler as a player than Ryan Tannehill. He’ll want a coach who can help him improve his mechanics and design a scheme to fit his strengths, but Grier shows some potential for the next level.  Like most quarterbacks who’d be selected in this range, he’ll need a year or two on the bench for he’ll be ready to contribute.

Projection: Rounds 2-3

 

Easton Stick

Average arm strength made up for with good accuracy, top-notch athleticism, and a high football intelligence.  Lack of top-end competition is a sizeable drawback.

My Take: A smaller, more athletic Carson Wentz with a slightly less appealing arm is an appropriate way to describe fellow North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick.  Stick is just as smart with the football as Wentz, but unlike Wentz (to an extent) he can make plays with his feet when a play breaks down. On top of that, he has the tools you’d look for in an NFL prospect: adequate arm strength, accurate, and a high football IQ.  If Miami is looking for a mid-round pick with upside beyond a career back-up, Stick is certainly a target.

Projection: Rounds 3-4

 

Jordan Ta’amu

Mostly accurate on all levels.  Adequate arm strength for the NFL.  Can read the field and extend plays with his feet.

My take: Described as one of the biggest quarterback sleepers for this upcoming draft, Ta’amu is a relatively unknown quarterback who could check all the boxes for NFL scouts.  I expect Ta’amu to gain more visibility as we approach April. Ta’amu has potential and should be on the Dolphins radar as a quarterback who may be worth a mid-round, flier pick.

Projection: Rounds 3-4

 

Brett Rypien

Can make all the throws necessary both from an accuracy and arm strength perspective.  High football-IQ and risk-averse. Relatively consistent player.

My take: As far as players who could step in for the Dolphins, Rypien should be in the conversation.  He does the small things right.  There is more to be desired or to be seen as to if he could be true game-changer at the quarterback position, but he could be an adequate game manager.  In Miami’s case, if they’re looking for someone to come in and compete next year at a relatively low cost (mid-round pick), this may be the guy. However, I wouldn’t expect Rypien to be the savior Miami fans are looking for long-term.

Projection: Rounds 3-5

 

Ryan Finley

Accurate short, but inconsistent at anything further.  Questionable arm strength relative to the NFL level. Overall, not strong in most categories scouts look for in a quarterback.

My take: It doesn’t appear the upside is there for a player like Finley.  He’s experienced, having been in college six years, starting for the last three, but there isn’t a lot to show he’ll be a high-end starter in the NFL.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Jarrett Stidham

Accurate at all levels and has adequate NFL arm strength.  However, doesn’t seem to handle pressure well. Not much of a threat to run when things break down.

My take: Similar to most quarterbacks in this range, his ceiling isn’t too high.  Best case, Stidham could be a solid back-up or spot-starter in this league. For what Miami is looking for, Stidham most likely won’t be the long term solution.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Gardner Minshew

Inconsistent accuracy and processing which likely will not translate well to the NFL.  Playmaker who can extend plays with his feet. Not great but enough arm strength to make the necessary throws.

My take: For those who like the Russell Wilson type of quarterback in terms of extending plays, Minshew may gather some interest for you.  However, he lacks in the other departments which will limit him from being a Wilson-type quarterback. I’m gathering he’s best served as a solid backup or spot-starter in the NFL, which is likely not what Miami is in the market for.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Clayton Thorson

Mid/low level arm strength coupled with inconsistent accuracy.  Seems smart enough and has ability to recognize pressure. Has flashes in all categories but overall inconsistent.

My take: Another late round quarterback who has potential to be a good back-up in this league.  With Miami wanting that quarterback to take them over the hump, Thorson doesn’t appear to be the answer.

Projection: Rounds 4-7

 

Bonus:

Kyler Murray
*yet to declare

Not-elite but good accuracy.  Most athletic, dynamic quarterback prospect with more than enough arm strength desired at the NFL level.  Can make plays when all things break down.

My take: It’s nothing new, but the Murray comparisons to Lamar Jackson are real.  Think Jackson but with a more accurate arm. There isn’t a lot out there on Murray regarding draft stock as Murray chose to take give up football in exchange for a baseball career.  In the event he changes his mind and switches to football, Murray could be a day 1 game-changing prospect for this Miami franchise. Sure, there are durability concerns when you run as much as he does with his small stature; however, a player like Murray is well worth the risk in a relatively weak quarterback class.  He could truly be a difference maker in this offense.

Projection: Round 1

Skyler has been a fan of the Dolphins as far as his memory takes him. Hailing from a small town in Iowa, his passion for the Dolphins is only contested by his love of the game. Having coached football for 4 years, he continues to follow and study the game.

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Miami Dolphins

Pillaging the Pats

Travis Wingfield

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Taking From the Rich and Giving to the Phins

De facto Patriots Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores is set to take over the big chair in Miami at the conclusion of New England’s 2018 season. Rumored to be coming with Flores are a pair of Pats staffers.

A master of delegation, Bill Belichick constantly maintains the smallest staff in the league. Flores’ intentions are to bring with him Pats’ Consultant Bret Bielema and Wide Receivers Coach Chad O’Shea.

*We’ll have a comprehensive breakdown of the offensive scheme that comes with O’Shea should this move push closer to official. And we’ll do so in the same capacity as the Defensive Crash Course piece.

If Flores is able to extract both Bielema and O’Shea, he’s plundering 16% of the 2018 Patriots’ staff (that includes Flores). Belichick’s coaching tree has yielded less than desirable results in their new destinations, but Flores is described as “different” from the rest.

By now Dolphins fans are tired of lip service. If Flores is the exception to the many before him, great – we’ll find out on Sundays. Flores is, however, off to a unique beginning compared to the lackluster rest.

 

Coach (Year Left New England) Additional Migrating Staffers
Charlies Weis (2005 – Notre Dame) 0
Romeo Crennel (2005 – Cleveland) 0
Eric Mangini (2007 – NY Jets) 0
Josh McDaniels (2009 – Denver) 0
Bill O’Brien (2012 – Penn State) 0
Matt Patricia (2018 – Detroit) 0

 

Goose eggs. I didn’t expect that when I began this study, hence the table. Interestingly, the greatest dearth in the Patriots run came between the 2008-2010 seasons. That sentence is a house of cards for two reasons:

1.) It’s sort of hilarious to call two playoff appearances and a combined record of 35-13 a dearth. Those three seasons were the last time New England weren’t participating in the Conference Championship – they’ve qualified for eight consecutive title games since.

2.) It’s something of a strawman to suggest New England’s 14-2 season was cut short at the divisional round because of a loss of coordinators. Not to mention the 2008 season that brought back 11 wins despite starting Matt Cassel for 15 games.

That three-year stretch did come after New England lost its offensive and defensive coordinators, and then Crennel’s replacement at DC (Mangini) two years later. No one is mistaking Flores, Bielema, and O’Shea for Weis, Crennel, and Mangini, but this would be a similar exodus – the difference being all at once opposed to three years.

It’s no secret that Belichick is a ruthless competitor that has no qualms about making enemies. The Patriots have blocked coaches from interviewing for outside positions in the past. Clearly, New England doesn’t block assistants from taking head coaching jobs, but the fact that zero staffers jumped ship might insinuate staffers are held hostage.

Maybe that’s where the idea that Flores is different from the rest comes from. His ability to separate himself from the Pats’ program. His intentions to implement his own initiative that doesn’t try to form as a carbon copy of Belichick’s well-oiled machine in Foxboro.

There are a million ways to splice this, but it all comes back to one conclusion: Brian Flores is beloved by everyone that knows him – even the heartless Hoodie.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Crash Course On 2019 Dolphins Defensive Scheme

Travis Wingfield

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For a publication based primarily on analysis, these last two weeks have been a bit of a drag for content. We know the potential names but, as they say, potential doesn’t play on Sundays. In this case, the reference refers to the rumors and names linked to various positions with the Dolphins – rumors, meaning anything but finalized.

Enter Patrick Graham.

It has been reported that Miami, under Head Coach to Be Named Brian Flores, will tag the former Green Bay Packers assistant as the Defensive Coordinator position with the Dolphins in 2019.

Graham, a former staffer alongside Flores in New England, spent the 2018 season coaching the linebackers on Mike Pettine’s defense.

Another name linked to the vacant DC job is Bret Bielema. The former Wisconsin and Arkansas Head Coach spent the 2018 season working hand-in-hand with Bill Belichick as a Consultant to the Head Coach.

And so, from this, we glean some potential defensive structures, schemes and principles that figure to be migrating south this winter along with Flores.

For Flores, Graham, and potentially Bielema, the task is tall. Redirect a unit that ranked 29th in points allowed each of the last two years under the inexperienced watch of Matt Burke.

We start first in New England. After all, Flores will be a master of delegation, but he knows this scheme as well as anyone. Few teams mix up their fronts with more frequency than the New England Patriots.

The prevailing theme among these slight variances of defensive schemes is the “Bear” front. A Bear front simply refers to six defenders up around the line of scrimmage. Two of those players are positioned in a linebacker technique while the other four are down linemen.

This variation of the Bear front is a 3-3 look using three down-linemen, two outside ‘backers shaded off the 9-technique alignment.

In this image provided by the Twitter account of James Light, we can see the variations from the nickel and dime packages (yes, Miami will FINALLY be running some dime defense in 2019).

The more traditional look aligns those six players in a 4-2 set.

Bret Bielema last coached (on the field) in 2017 at Arkansas, so he’s no stranger to the evolution of the college game and its integration into the NFL. There, Bielema’s defense was based in the traditional 3-4, but the tight splits inside look an awful lot like the classic Bear front (nose tackle over the center and two fellow linemen in a variance between 2i and 4 techniques). Bielema helped institute some of these principles in 2018 – his one season with the Patriots.

The common theme between all of these looks is to prevent specific run plays. The inside run becomes increasingly difficult with all the bodies down around the line of scrimmage. The even bigger factor (both literally and figuratively) is the beef inside.

Lining up with three down-linemen (pushing 300 pounds a pop) and defending one gap makes it nearly impossible to pull, which means the end of any gap-scheming.

The scheme is also designed to shut down inside zone, but also free up the linebackers with fewer keys and responsibilities. Instead of asking the defensive ends to set the edge on the way to their pass rush (the design of the wide-9) this alignment puts that responsibility on the outside linebackers.

The widened pre-snap alignment gives the linebackers a quicker, unimpeded path to outside runs. Only the Mike Linebacker has to weed through trash and take on blocks in this defense. Raekwon McMillan would likely serve as the Middle Linebacker. McMillan’s instincts and physicality at the point-of-attack would capitalize on the things the former Buckeye does well.

Then there’s the influence of the actual Titled-Defensive Coordinator, Patrick Graham. Working under Mike Pettine, Graham absorbed the principles of the Bear front and the 46 defense. Pettine spent time with Rex Ryan in Baltimore and with the New York Jets and, as we all know, Rex’s Dad Buddy was the originator of the 46 defense.

The imagine comes from the Patriots defense, but it’s along the lines of what you see in Green Bay with Pettine (and Graham). Four down-linemen condensed to create space off the edge of the linebackers. This means more pass rushing opportunities from linebackers.

Later, as it inches near official status in the way it has with Graham, we will dive into the potential principles and concepts of Jim Caldwell’s offense in today’s NFL. Much like the Dolphins inclination to bring an experienced consultant along with the young defensive boss, the play on the attack unit is heading in that direction as well.

These consultants figure in as prominent fixtures early in this experimental tenure of young coaches. Caldwell (63-years-old with 41 years of coaching experience) and Bielema (48-years-old with 22 years of coaching experience) can ease the transition to the Flores/Graham grouping along with whomever (possibly Chad O’Shea of the Patriots) Flores chooses as his Offensive Coordinator.

The offensive crash course will be posted just as soon as we have more concrete news.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Mock Draft Roundup: A Kyler Murray Sighting

Skyler Trunck

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It is that time of year again.  Yes, the time of year where we all jump to immediate conclusions, argue and judge each other on projections that, statistically speaking, have a less chance of happening than winning the lottery or being struck by lightning multiple times.

It’s mock draft season!  Well – it’s been mock draft season since December 30th but who’s counting…

Let’s get started on what I hope becomes a weekly (or bi-weekly depending on how many updates are made) mock draft roundup for Miami’s 13th overall pick:

 

Bleacher Report: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU

Greedy Williams, arguably one of the top corners in this draft — right up there with Washington corner Byron Murphy.  Someone to pair with all-pro corner, Xavien Howard, is a need for this Miami defense. Drafting or bringing in a reliable #2 corner also allows Miami to play players like Bobby McCain and Minkah Fitzpatrick in their proper roles, slot corner and safety respectively.

Williams is a tall corner, measuring in at 6’3”.  Add in the speed he possesses and simply looking at the metrics, he has what you want, physically, for a corner.

 

CBS Sports: Greedy Williams – CB – LSU

Right off the bat, two mocks having Miami select LSU corner, Greedy Williams.  It’s hard to argue against this pick when you watch Williams.

For those looking for a quarterback, this mock draft saw four — yes, four — quarterbacks go before Miami’s selection.  In between those selections saw a lot of the top defensive line players taken – both edge and interior. Assuming this is the case, a player like Williams would be a solid pick as far as value and need go.

 

The Draft Network: Kyler Murray – QB – Oklahoma

Now it’s getting exciting!  There isn’t a player in this draft with more hype than Kyler Murray.  As written here at Locked on Dolphins, Murray has the answers for this Miami team.

Some question if he will be available at #13.  As Ian Rapoport reports, maybe that idea isn’t so far-fetched.  Maybe it’s just early smoke-screens or maybe teams are actually concerned about his size.  Make no mistake, despite the round 2 or 3 grade, quarterbacks always find their name called much earlier.  Murray will be no exception.

2019 still may be a “rebuilding” year, but I promise drafting Murray would produce a season defined as anything but boring.  If you’re hoping for Miami to make a splash in the draft, drafting Murray would certainly be the biggest play.

 

Drafttek: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson

Dexter Lawrence did not play in Clemson’s final two games, which ultimately resulted in a national championship.  Although Lawrence wasn’t on the field, don’t misunderstand the impact Lawrence had on this Clemson team.

Lawrence has the size to play on the interior of a defensive line, coming in at 6’4” and 340 lbs.  He isn’t the quickest tackle in the world, but he can stop the run with the best of them and bring interior pressure to disrupt the quarterback.  Although I feel this is high for Lawrence and there may be more impactful positional prospects available at this pick (e.g. defensive end Jachai Polite, Montez Sweat), he would be a safe pick who would contribute day 1 for this Miami defense.

 

Pro Football Focus: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson

This now makes two choices for Clemson star interior defensive lineman, Dexter Lawrence.  

What is interesting, in this mock, players like Houston’s Ed Oliver were still available.  Oliver, also an interior defensive lineman, has a different skillset than Lawrence, obvious by Oliver coming in measured at 6’3” and 292 lbs.

Is Miami looking for that big man in the middle who doesn’t get moved around (like Minnesota defensive tackle, Linval Joseph), or the quick tackle, more built for pass-rushing (like Los Angeles defensive tackle Aaron Donald).  Who knows, but if both are in the board, Miami’s plan for the future at defensive line will be clear with this pick.

 

SB Nation: Daniel Jones – QB – Duke

It’s no secret Miami is in the market for a quarterback.  Although Duke quarterback, Daniel Jones, has potential, this would be a reach.  Jones doesn’t seem to have the high ceiling other quarterbacks slotted in the first round do, so why reach on a player who at best may be a slightly better version of Ryan Tannehill?  There are other options out there at a cheaper price.

When you thrown in Miami is supposedly eyeing the 2020 draft class for their franchise quarterback with the 2019 draft geared towards fixing the trenches, it only raises more questions at why this may be the pick.

All that said, it’s the NFL draft.  Smoke screens are a plenty and no one really knows what a team is going to do and how a player will or won’t turn out.  Pulling the trigger on your franchise quarterback is certainly alluring, but why not put your chips all in on a player who has the franchise-altering potential?  I just don’t see it with Jones.

 


 

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on who Miami should take at #13.  Follow me on Twitter @skylertrunck and let’s discuss.

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