Brian Flores is sabotaging his career, and do you think he even cares?
Every win puts the Miami Dolphins further and further from that #1 draft pick…that #1 quarterback who is supposed to ensure the future success of this franchise.
Their path to prominence was just a few short months away. Simply lie down and let the rest of the league walk all over you. Heck, you can be as terrible as you want to be at your job, and you’ll still have the security to return next year. What an easy thing for Flores and company to do.
Except, he hasn’t done that one bit.
Chris Grier‘s plan all along was to starve the team of talent so it became nearly impossible for them to win, regardless of how hard they tried.
It was a plan that Grier and Flores crafted together, presented to Stephen Ross and set out to orchestrate in unison with his blessing.
And Flores is voluntarily sabotaging it all.
What do a few measly wins in November mean when your franchise is perpetually staring at 9-7 due to a second-rate quarterback?
At the moment, the Dolphins have the #4 pick in the 2020 NFL draft. That means, theoretically, Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow are both out of your grasp. Unless you can convince the Washington Redskins to accept a king’s ransom in exchange for the #2 overall pick – which I wouldn’t expect them to do – it looks like you’re settling for the bronze medal.
Which means you’re risking your future on an inconsistent Jake Fromm, or an unpolished Justin Herbert.
Think this is a maneuver a man hellbent on securing the easiest path to future success would make? I think you all know the answer to that rhetorical question.
Wins Won’t Be Gifted, They’ll Be Earned
If there’s one thing we’ve come to learn from Brian Flores, it’s that he doesn’t settle for the easier option.
It was only a month ago that national pundits everywhere were genuinely imploring Roger Goodell to investigate the Dolphins’ method for tanking.
The Dolphins validated the embarrassing narrative (that started when the team traded away Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills) when they were dominated by the Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys to open up the season.
At a glance, it’s easy to discount what Brian Flores was building. Miami had yet to score a single point in the second half of a game, players like Jakeem Grant and Charles Harris were regressing, and Minkah Fitzpatrick was on the verge of demanding a trade that would turn him into a Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan favorite.
— Mike Sando (@SandoNFL) November 4, 2019
It appeared like no one respected the rookie head coach. Fans started to proclaim that he wasn’t the right leader for this team, even though we all knew what 2019 was about from the start.
We were under the impression that the locker room was crumbling, that camaraderie didn’t exist, and that Flores was simply here to keep the seat warm for the next head coach.
But, against our behest, Flores reminded us weekly that this team had a lot of fight in them and that they were yearning for a victory. None of them were laying down and adopting the “tanking” narrative.
We scoffed, but in reality, we were just afraid of what this meant for the future of this franchise.
Though these two meaningless victories won’t mean much years from now, it shows us the kind of team we should come to expect with Brian Flores leading the Miami Dolphins.
The Dolphins are winning this game without these injured or suspended players they had in spring: Kenyan Drake, Mark Walton, Preston Williams, Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Xavien Howard, Kiko Alonso, Reshad Jones.
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) November 10, 2019
Making Wine Out of Water
The narrative around Miami is that the Dolphins watch talent walk out the door and perform well for other teams.
For all the blame we place on Grier for mis-scouting these players, there seem to be enough of them.
Which means there’s really only one conclusion we can deduce from all of this: the problem isn’t the players, but the coaches who are supposed to put them in the best position to perform each week.
Including those currently on Injured Reserve, the Dolphins returned just 21 players from their 2018 team (if you include players like Nick O’Leary, Kenyan Drake and Minkah Fitzpatrick, you can bump it up to 24).
With an entirely new coaching staff and a roster of players that, for the most part, hadn’t played with each other before, there were going to be a few hiccups.
Communication issues were present, players weren’t lined up in the right spots, and, let’s be honest, the coaching staff wasn’t entirely sure where to slot their players.
Raekwon McMillan was underutilized, Eric Rowe was still covering the boundary, and their (mis)handling of Minkah Fitzpatrick cost them the most-promising defensive player on the their roster.
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) September 15, 2019
Fans openly wondered why Mike Gesicki was still running routes, why Jomal Wiltz was still a starter, why Nik Needham had a spot on the roster, and why Evan Boehm was playing ahead of Chris Reed.
But Flores knew that his team was facing some of the most-adverse conditions any team in recent memory was up against. The Dolphins had:
- 2 Pro Bowlers on their entire roster (Reshad Jones and Xavien Howard).
- Less than half their roster featured players that had accumulated more than 2 full seasons in the NFL.
- And of the players that had more than 2 full years of experience, we’re talking about guys like Matt Haack, Ken Crawley, Deon Lacey, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Clive Walford and Walt Aikens. Not necessarily the cream of the crop.
- 2 of their 1st-round picks since 2010 still on the roster (DeVante Parker and Charles Harris).
In short, the Dolphins talent was barren. And yet here we are, staring two wins in the face – with a 3rd victory falling through Kenyan Drake’s grasp at the 2-yard line.
It’s not a record that earns you an easy ticket to the playoffs for the foreseeable future (thanks to the college prospect you were able to pluck at will). Instead, it’s a record that will mock Dolphins fans for years as they watch this year’s top two quarterback prospects perform outside of Miami.
Think Brian Flores cares? Not one bit. Why? Because he’s going to coach whoever his quarterback is into a winner.
A Real Coach Coaches
It seems we were the only ones befuddled by Flores’ coaching potential.
After a rocky start to the year – where Miami faced 3 of the top 6 scoring offenses in the NFL – the team started to settle down.
Jomal Wiltz went from being burned on basic running plays to providing tight coverage on a consistent basis.
This defensive effort… Jomal Wiltz this time. pic.twitter.com/jTIBiZuM8z
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
Nik Needham went from being one of the fan’s scapegoats to earning a spot on this roster in 2020.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 10, 2019
Mike Gesicki went from being cut to becoming a legitimate seam threat in this league.
#dolphins TE mike gesicki had his best game of his career on sunday, catching 100% of his targets (6/6) for 95 yards. through 8 games, gesicki has more yards (248) than he did as a rookie (202) in 2018. the second-year TE is finally starting to emerge as a legit playmaker.#finsup pic.twitter.com/x74mfuQLRw
— josh houtz (@houtz) November 5, 2019
Eric Rowe went from a forgettable boundary cornerback to a potential solution for opposing tightends (after all these years).
Did Miami find it’s tight end eraser in Eric Rowe? pic.twitter.com/cKYvm212HU
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
Vince Biegel is what Kiko Alonso should have been when we traded for him years ago.
Chris Grier traded Kiko Alonso and his bloated contract (someone who was going to be cut), for Vince Biegel before the season.
Biegel- 24 tackles, 2 sacks, 10 QB hits, 3 TFL
Alonso- 11 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 QB hits, 0 TFL
what a heist.
— Brandon (@BFem09) November 7, 2019
Preston Williams is what DeVante Parker should have been when we drafted him in the 1st-round.
preston williams, stiff arm extraordinaire pic.twitter.com/BWO0ODihkH
— josh houtz (@houtz) November 3, 2019
DeVante Parker is even looking like the DeVante Parker we expected to receive 4 seasons ago.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 3, 2019
Christian Wilkins is providing instant production, and will be a starter beside Davon Godchaux (hopefully) for the next 5 years.
Christian Wilkins pulls the center out of the A gap and Baker hits it at Mach speed pic.twitter.com/nNPeO0Vo5O
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 10, 2019
Exactly how many players on this roster have gotten worse from 2018 to now?
If there’s pessimism surrounding the Dolphins’ quarterback situation of the future, there should be plenty of optimism surrounding Miami’s player development going forward.
This is a team that wants to play hard for their head coach. Just look at all the problems the 2-7 New York Jets are having.
Le’Veon Bell is saying all the right things, but he’s unhappy there. Jamal Adams is one of the best young safeties in the league, and he’s constantly in a verbal brawl with the team’s general manager and head coach. Neither of these are even their biggest problem, as Kelechi Osemele is currently filing a grievance against the team for neglecting his injury.
That’s the look of a team that doesn’t have each other’s back. That’s a lost locker room.
The Miami Dolphins tell a completely different story. This is a team that wants to play hard for their head coach.
No one condones Bobby McCain (allegedly) spitting at a Buffalo Bills’ fan when he mocked the Dolphins’ roster, but you may subconsciously be glad he has that fire inside of him. He took that personally.
The best young safety in the league may have forced his way off your team, but there isn’t a single unhappy player on this roster right now. No one is butting heads with the front office or head coach. In fact, the Dolphins paid Kendrick Norton’s contract in full when he lost his arm during the offseason – forgoing any chance of living his dream as an NFL star.
Miami Dolphins Waive Kendrick Norton Weeks After Arm Amputation, Will Stlll Pay Insurance Costs: https://t.co/m7BMUO7nW1
— NBC 6 South Florida (@nbc6) July 22, 2019
This is a staff (and ownership group) that cares. They treat their players like genuine human beings. They’re honest with their intentions and upfront with the amount of work they’ll have to put in if they want to play for the Miami Dolphins.
Brian Flores isn’t just bringing grit to a franchise that hasn’t had a spark since Tony Sparano took over, he’s bringing respect and honor as well.
Want to know if Brian Flores has the attention of his players? Check this interesting stat out:
- The Miami Dolphins were the least-penalized team in the NFL heading into their Week 10 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. On the contrary, the Jets were the 30th-most penalized team heading into Week 10.
Some notable (per game) stats comparing a rookie, defensive-oriented HC to a veteran “offensive guru”:
(29) MIA – 198.5
(32) NYJ – 157.2
(30) MIA – 262.2
(32) NYJ – 223.5
(30) MIA – 12.9
(32) NYJ – 12
(1) MIA – 5.6
(30) NYJ – 8.8
— Jason Hrina (@MiamiDPunx) November 10, 2019
That says a lot about a team trying to learn an entirely new system (with all new vocabulary) while attempting to develop chemistry with players they’ve never played beside. One depicts a team that has bought in to what their coach is selling, another shows you how undisciplined they really are.
Maybe Minkah Fitzpatrick couldn’t handle the dedication Flores demanded? Maybe Vincent Taylor wasn’t willing to put in the time and felt his natural ability would be enough?
After back-to-back wins, it’s easy to dispel the notion that the coaches were at fault, but after what we’ve seen the past two weeks, it’s hard not to notice the growth and evolution happening before us.
Now, our emotions are torn.
The fan inside of us yearns for this team to win, but logic favors a defeated season. It’s a conundrum none of us have an answer for, because none of us know what the right answer is for another few years.
While we try and siphon our feelings, we can uniformally agree that the overall future of the Miami Dolphins is bright.
Which really means we have to pray that Jordan Love declares for the upcoming draft, just in case Flores decides to sabotage a few more games this season.
Miami Dolphins meeting with Jordan Love at the Senior Bowl
Mobile, Alabama (Locked On Dolphins) – Senior Bowl week is underway, and Tuesday set into motion the first practice.
The Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, January 25, at 1:30 p.m. Central Time.
Tuesday featured weigh-ins and measurements, and as per usual, the quarterback hand sizes became a viral trend on twitter.
As it relates to the headline, Jordan Love’s hands were measured at 10 5/8 inches, which was the biggest of all the quarterbacks.
It might not necessarily matter since coaches and analysts can go either way on a prospect’s hand size. But it could matter for someone who was already on the fence about Jordan Love.
It could’ve been the dealbreaker, too, for those who were already on the fence.
I mention the conflicting perspectives on hand sizes because it’s a perfect segue into the controversy and questions surrounding Jordan Love’s draft stock and pro prospects.
Now here’s the kicker.
The polarizing quarterback from Utah State will be meeting with the Dolphins at the Senior Bowl, per Joe Schad.
Utah State QB Jordan Love says he’s meeting with the Miami Dolphins at Senior Bowl
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 21, 2020
Hand sizes aside, it’s certainly worth noting that the Dolphins want to meet with Love.
It’s almost a certainty that the Dolphins want to and will address the quarterback position in the 2020 Draft, and Love offers a lot of desired characteristics for the job.
And there’s already been interest before from the Miami Dolphins, according to Tony Pauline.
Pauline has stated that the team was intrigued by the Aggie quarterback after his breakout 2018 season.
While Jordan Love’s 2019 season was tumultuous, to say the least, the moldable potential as a pro is evident.
Jordan Love is a likely draft riser now that the 2019 season is behind him. A good showing during the practices and the Senior Bowl will further help his cause, but Love is already looking at being selected in the teens or 20s.
The meeting, it’s fuel on the fire. In preparation for a scenario where the Dolphins cannot or do not get Tua Tagovailoa, the team could be exercising their due diligence to formulate a Plan B in that event.
It never hurts to be overprepared.
The content and reasoning of the meeting itself will remain surreptitious but will invite hypotheses regarding a Miami Dolphins-Jordan Love marriage.
Could he be the face of the franchise?
Is he the next Patrick Mahomes?
Can he make it as a pro?
Sure, there’s uncertainty with drafting Love, but the thing is, the connection makes sense. There’s a lot to like about Jordan Love, but he needs breathing room going into the NFL. The Miami Dolphins can offer him that, which would be favorable for his development.
It’s a good fit. And the logic is there.
It’s worth keeping tabs on Jordan Love’s draft journey, and we’ll see what unfolds from the meeting, if anything.
There’s a real shot that Jordan Love is the Miami Dolphins guy moving into 2020 and beyond. The meeting could be the first step in that process…
Or maybe they just want to talk about his hand size.
Senior Bowl 2020 Preview Through Miami Dolphins Lens – Defense
Best Dolphins scheme fits, and the price to acquire said players, taking the field this week at the Senior Bowl
By the time the popcorn is popped, the ball is teed up, and the fans have filed into the Ladd-Pebble’s stadium, most of the scouts, evaluators and decision makers have vacated Mobile, Alabama, the home of the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
It’s not that the game is devoid of value; it just pales in comparison to the value of the entire week of practices. Simulated situations pit college football’s best players against one-another in true tests of their abilities.
Change-of-direction, clean mechanics, competitiveness, all of these important traits are readily apparent in the padded practices that occur from Tuesday through Thursday in front of everyone who is anyone in the National Football League.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to prospect evaluation. Even after a nine-month process that begins at summer camp for area scouts, the best-drafting teams in the NFL still only hit on roughly half of their picks. But if there were a way to expedite the process of rifling through the hundreds of draft-eligible players, these practices are it.
We get a first-hand look at how players fare against elite college competition, repeatedly. Game-speed is on display. Lateral agility and movement skills are tested. The bounce back from a bad rep and jumping right back into the fire gives us insight on how players respond to adversity in short order. The clues we find in Mobile sends us back to the tape to re-evaluate our boards, and ultimately spit our final rankings and evaluations.
In case you’re new to Locked On Dolphins, this is how we covered the Senior Bowl last January.
Since everything we do is Dolphins specific, we’re looking at scheme fits. We’ll track which players the Dolphins meet with, and who impresses the most at the biggest positions of need.
In addition to projecting best possible scheme fits, we’ll factor in draft value when selecting the best possible player from each group for your Miami Dolphins. For instance, neither Justin Herbert or Jordan Love will be the top QB selected simply because of their high-end first-round draft status. If Miami selects Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick, Herbet and Love are off the board entirely.
It’s one of my personal favorite weeks of the year, so let’s get into part-two, the defense.
Senior Bowl Defense
The defensive side of the ball is loaded this week in Mobile. Gap-control rushers, interior pocket collapsers, on-and-off-ball linebackers and a secondary chock full of ball hawks, there are multiple future Dolphins in this group.
By now, we know that Miami are one of three teams in the league — four now with Joe Judge at the top of a program — that shops from an exclusive store. Bigger, stronger edge players that make up for a lack of athleticism with brute power and gap integrity. Versatile defensive backs that must excel in man coverage. Linebackers that can rush the quarterback from a variety of positions. These are the core tenants of the Patriots, Lions, and Dolphins defense, and perhaps the Giants under new management with Patrick Graham.
It’ll be impossible to highlight just a couple of players, so unlike the offensive side, we’ll discuss multiple players at each spot. As always, we’ll have even more detail on the Locked On Dolphins Podcast.
Bradlee Anae (UTAH), Darrion Daniels (NEB), Marlon Davidson (AUB), Raekwon Davis (ALA), Leki Fotu (UTAH), Neville Gallimore (OK), Trevis Gipson (TULS), Jonathan Greenard (FLA), Davon Hamilton (OSU), Trevon Hill (MIA), Benito Jones (MISS), Javon Kinlaw (SC), Larrell Murchison (NCST), Alton Robinson (SYR), Jason Strowbridge (UNC), Kenny Willekes (MSU), Robert Windsor (PSU), Jabari Zuniga (FLA)
Best Fins Fit — Bradlee Anae, Utah
Anae is a 6-foot-3, 260-plus-pound edge that Miami will covet in this year’s draft. He’s a refined rusher with multiple moves in the arsenal, and the ability to angle inside as a rusher to expand the stunt game on the defensive line.
I'm surprised Bradlee Anae isn't getting a lot more national attention as a draft prospect. One of the best technicians in this EDGE class. (Beat top OT prospect Austin Jackson here). Love the violent finish. pic.twitter.com/ebvkgN6gSl
— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) January 10, 2020
He’s not the most athletic rusher, but that’s not part of the prerequisites of playing edge in this scheme. New England never valued athleticism at end, and I don’t suspect Brian Flores will either. Dig-out or kick-out blocks are often a futile effort against Anae because of his long arms and ability to disengage quickly.
Projected Required Investment — Mid-Round Pick, Rounds 3-4
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Base 5-Tech, Kick Inside in Nickle Rush Packages
Hardly a far cry from former Patriot, current Lion, and once a Near-Dolphin Trey Flowers, Anae is a power run defender that can redirect as a pass rusher on his way to stopping the ground game.
The moment the card is turned in, Anae becomes the best base defensive end on the team. While that’s an indictment of Miami’s roster, it’s also a testament to Anae’s skill set. He provides the versatility to kick inside on long yardage situations.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Pit Drill
This will be an area to either showcase Anae’s impressive heavy hands, or an opportunity to expose his limited athleticism. Again, the Dolphins don’t care much about the latter, and typically it’s the players with better moves in their arsenal that win in this drill.
Keep an Eye On — Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina
Something of a tweener for the rest of the league, Strowbridge fits right in at home in Miami. He entered college as a 245-pound end, and now he’s nearing three bills on the scale. Accordingly, Strowbridge has some explosion and wiggle that is unique to a player of his size.
Ridiculous play in a phone booth from UNC senior DT Jason Strowbridge. Watch #55
Push/pull the OT, then the awareness that a backside puller is coming, avoids that block, and finds the RB 👀
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) September 24, 2019
He won’t be a base defensive tackle, but he is more than capable of fulfilling the 4-tech spot in bear fronts, or play the play-side 3-tech in even fronts. Leki Fotu is a Danny Shelton clone and Neville Gallimore and Javon Kinlaw are explosive, powerful interior rush presences, but will likely require a first-round selection. Strowbridge is a day-three player.
Zack Baun (WIS), Francis Bernard (UTAH), Jordyn Brooks (TT), Cameron Brown (PSU), Carter Coughlin (MIN), Akeem Davis-Gaither (APP), Troy Dye (ORE), Malik Harrison (OSU), Khaleke Hudson (MICH), Anfernee Jennings (ALA), Terrell Lewis (ALA), Kamal Martin (MIN), Davion Taylor (COL), Darrell Taylor (TEN), Josh Uche (MICH), Evan Weaver (CAL), Logan Wilson (WYO), D.J. Wonnum (SC)
Best Fins Fit — Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Baun, just like Vince Biegel and Andrew Van Ginkel before him, has the same traits that attracted Miami to the pair of Badger ‘Backers. Baun is the best of the three. He’s especially adept at executing games (stunts, twists, slants) because of his lateral agility.
Wisconsin EDGE and Senior Bowler Zack Baun is probably the player who has exceeded my expectations most on final film review.
Bend isn't great, but when you can soften rush angles and force OTs into recovery position as quickly as Baun does, you don't need elite bend!
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) December 28, 2019
He’s not the most fluid edge rusher, and isn’t going to line up in the wide alignment and win the corner, but he’s effective defending the pass as a flat and hook zone dropper. His rush move arsenal is already refined like that of a seasoned pro.
Projected Required Investment — Late-First, Early-Second, Pick 26 or 39
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting On-Ball Linebacker
Biegel almost never left the field last season upon showing his worth across a variety of formations. Baun could do the same and give Miami a pair of consistent Badger backers off either edge, in what could be a linebacker-driven front-seven this year. Drafting Baun would certainly suggest that to be the case, with Van Ginkel serving as the sixth-man — so to speak — first off the bench.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Pit Drill
My apologies for a lack of variety between these trench players, but nothing beats the pit drill; nothing. This is an area Baun will probably excel because he’s such a refined technician, and he’ll draw some smaller school players and athletes that aren’t great football players just yet.
Keep an Eye On — Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Jennings has the requisite measurements to intrigue the Dolphins before even flipping on the film. Then, once you see him play, you see him actively engage those long arms and thick frame to bully the man across from him. He’s extremely stout against the run with the heavy hands to shed blockers en route to the tackler.
Anfernee Jennings fits the mold for an edge in this defense. Watch him defeat the block and make the TFL on the keeper. pic.twitter.com/TyC7iqR61l
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) October 12, 2019
Cal’s Evan Weaver lacks speed and rush ability, but he’s the most reliable downhill run defender in the entire draft. Joshua Uche has some versatility to his game. He played for current Dolphins Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile in college.
Damon Arnette (OSU), Essang Bassey (WAKE), Julian Blackmon (UTAH), Antoine Brooks Jr. (MAR), Terrell Burgess (UTAH), Jeremy Chinn (SoILL), Brian Cole (MISS ST), Ashtyn Davis (CAL), Kyle Duggar (Lenoir-Rhyne), Jalen Elliot (ND), Kristian Fulton (LSU), Alohi Gilman (ND), A.J. Green (OKST), Darnay Holmes (UCLA), Lamar Jackson (NEB), Dane Jackson (PITT), Brandon Jones (TEX), Jared Mayden (ALA), Josh Metellus (MICH), Michael Ojemudia (IOWA), Troy Pride Jr. (ND), Reggie Robinson (TULS), Kindle Vildor (GEO SO), K’Von Wallace (CLEM)
Best Fins Fit — Ashtyn Davis
There are a few defensive backs in this class that match the prototype for what Brian Flores looks for, and Davis is certainly that, but he has one thing most of the other guys don’t. The sheer passion and love for playing the game the correct way. Not to say the others don’t, but Davis is a temperature changer that immediately improves the work environment around him.
Found one of my early draft crushes….Safety Ashtyn Davis
Drops down into the slot, takes outside leverage, lulls Herbert to sleep then breaks on the throw with incredible acceleration. Fearlessly catches the ball in traffic and returns it for a big gain! pic.twitter.com/sBV0TZ4HfK
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) January 9, 2020
Davis is a former track star, so when he tests in Indianapolis, it’s possible he elevates his stock into the first round. Hopefully that’s not the case, and Miami can pick up a round-two steal with this do-it-all safety. He can play the single-high role, cover in the slot, and is more than willing to hit somebody much larger than himself.
Projected Required Investment — Day 2, Pick 39
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Free Safety, Slot Corner
Davis‘ best trait is the paired combination of instincts and range. Because of that, he fits Miami’s press-man, single-high defense as well as anybody. He can also come down and cover the slot with the best of them — just the ideal defensive back for Brian Flores.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Live Team Period
Tackling hasn’t been the best trait for Davis in his collegiate career. It’s not that he’s not willing, he just lacks the size and frame to do it consistently. I want to see how he wraps and finishes in the live team periods when he has to come down and make a stick.
Keep an Eye On — Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Overlooked because of the presence of Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade in that Buckeye defensive backfield, Arnette took considerable strides this season in Columbus. He’s a long, aggressive press-corner that plays the ball exceptionally well.
Damon Arnette Pick Six 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yhcl3AQxIn
— Buckeye Videos+ (@BuckeyeVideos) September 14, 2019
Arnette will challenge every route at the three critical points — off the line, at the top of the stem, and at the catch point. He’s a sound tackler, but isn’t real interested in fighting off blocks. He’s more athletic than most players with his play-style which should bump his draft stock.
Utah’s Terrell Burgess is a good option in the middle rounds to play primary backup to Eric Rowe, and also serve as a core special teamer.
It would be quite a surprise if multiple players from this group don’t wind up with the Dolphins. There are so many potential scheme fits, and players that come from programs that stress the same core tenants that Miami’s system calls for. With all these Utah Utes, all these versatile defensive backs and multi-talented front-seven players, this is quite a week for Brian Flores and company.
Wednesday-Friday — Senior Bowl Practice Recaps
Kevin’s Senior Bowl Defensive Brain Dump
As we head into Senior Bowl week, I just wanted to do a quick brain dump on some of the prospects I’m most interested to see on defense this week at the Senior Bowl. One of my favorite prospects, Notre Dame DE Khalid Kareem, appears to have dropped out of the Senior Bowl for some reason (I’m looking into that, but if anyone knows, please comment below). To keep this simple, I’m just going to go DLs, LBs and DBs with quick notes on the guys I like.
Quick Glossary of Dolphins positions:
Big DE – bigger guy, usually 6’3”+ and 270lbs+ with 34”+ arms. Usually plays some 4, 4i, 5 and 6 techniques, with the ability to reduce inside on passing downs.
Rush DE – think Trey Flowers. Plays wider, usually 5, 6, 7, 9, and 8 (head up on a dual TE, pretty rare).
Off-Ball LB – a LB that’s usually playing off the line of scrimmage. Think Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen.
On-Ball LB – a LB who is playing the edges, akin to a 3-4 OLB, but may be playing in a 4-man line. Think Vince Biegel and, especially late in the season, Andrew Van Ginkel.
Safety Position – Miami breaks their safeties into three categories: MOF (Middle of the Field – a deep FS), split safety (someone who can play ½ field in tandem with the FS), and box safety (think Patrick Chung for New England or Tavon Wilson for Detroit. For Miami it was mostly Reshad Jones and Eric Rowe in this role in 2019).
DE – Jason Strowbridge – N. Carolina – Really excited to see him play in Mobile. Was a 3-tech DT for the Tar Heels at 6’5” 285lbs. Has length Miami will covet, experience playing inside. Flashes some explosion in pursuit. Plays well down the line (horizontally) against the run. Violent hands. Miami will like that. Fits with the Dolphins as a
DT Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina – Long and explosive. Can play anywhere on interior and may be able to play some Big DE in Miami’s scheme. Wins with length and speed more than physicality; will have to be more consistent with leverage and pad level at NFL level.
DT DaVon Hamilton – Ohio State – Solid all around. Physical, hustles, uses his hands. Was part of a heavy rotation at Ohio State with Rob Landers, Jashon Cornell, Haskell Garrett, and Tommy Togiai. Probably more set for a true 4-3 defense, but a solid player you can get in the mid-rounds. For Miami, he’d likely fit as a backup to Christian Wilkins – someone who can play 2i, 2, 3, 4, 4i techniques.
Really Intrigued: Marlon Davidson – Auburn – Was more hybrid 3-4 DE/stand-up edge player at Auburn. Has good size. Will be interesting to see how he plays as a DE in the game. Would be a Big DE for Miami.
Want to see more of: Leki Fotu – Utah – Got manhandled by Oregon in the Pac-12 Title Game. Thought he was an intriguing prospect for a NT spot in Miami’s defense, but after that game…Yikes. Can he rebound? Has some potential to play other techniques aside from a pure NT. Is he strong enough at the NFL Level?
Others I like:
Bradlee Anae – Utah – Rush DE from Utah who seems to fit the parameters, but just isn’t quite there for me. I want to see how he holds up against this level of competition. Did well until he ran into Penei Sewell of Oregon. Did notch some wins against USC’s Austin Jackson.
Jonathan Greenard – Florida – Another Rush DE candidate who had a fantastic season. Had a tremendous season for the Gators and has solid size for what Miami will likely look for. Does he have an arsenal of pass-rush moves or is he too reliant on speed-rush?
Darrell Taylor of Tennessee, Josh Uche of Michigan, and Alton Robinson of Syracuse also bear watching. The first two might be more OLB candidates for Miami. Robinson had a lot of hype heading into 2019 but didn’t have the best season with 2.5 of his 4.5 sacks coming against Liberty and Western Michigan.
Malik Harrison – Ohio State – Just a good, smart, physical football player. Can he play on the ball? Probably a little bit light for what Miami wants in someone who can play the off-ball and on-ball LB spot, but he’s so good. Secure tackler. Delivers pop when he squares up. For Miami, if he can bulk up a bit and still retain his speed, he’s got a chance to play that off-ball ILB and on-ball OLB hybrid role, like Kyle Van Noy. Guys like Biegel and Van Ginkel are pretty strictly on-ball guys, who fit the hybrid OLB/rush DE role for Miami.
Evan Weaver – California – Strictly a MLB in Miami’s system, but he may be more dynamic there than Raekwon McMillan; creates a logjam there if you take him though. Can play in coverage, good tackler, deceptive quickness.
Really Intrigued: Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis are both listed as ILBs for the Senior Bowl; not OLBs or edge players, which is what I think they’d be better suited for in the NFL and with Miami. Is this a real thing?
Want to see more of: Logan Wilson – Wyoming – Evan Weaver heavy. Wilson isn’t as polished as even Weaver, but he’s got good size and moves will for it. I’ve only seen one Wyoming game, so I myself want to watch Wilson this week.
Others I Like:
Carter Coughlin – Minnesota – He’s listed as a DE for the Senior Bowl, but for Miami’s purposes, they’d likely view him as another OLB/DE hybrid. Not that they need another at this point with Biegel and Van Ginkel, but it’s worth doing the due diligence on Coughlin.
Damon Arnette – Ohio State – One of the few CBs I’ve seen multiple times and paid attention to. He was the starter opposite Jeff Okudah and had a nice season. He’s physical and is an excellent tackler for a corner. Had to play with his hand/wrist in a cast for a chunk of the season and became a bit grabby, much like current Dolphin Xavien Howard when he was at Baylor. With Arnette, as it relates to Miami, I think the tape is fine, but it may come down to the physical measurements. Namely, does he have the long speed to play a lot of man coverage?
Dane Jackson – Pittsburgh – It seems like every year there’s a dirty, grimy football player from Pitt that just tends to stick in the league. I thought Dwayne Hendrix had a chance for Miami last year, but he ended up with the Ravens after being on the practice squad. Dane Jackson is another kid I can see Miami taking a liking to. Though, like Arnette, I’m concerned if the speed is there or not.
Antoine Brooks Jr. – Maryland – I noticed him when the Terps got thumped by Ohio State. He’s big, 5’11” 215lbs, and plays slot, SS and split safety. I think his best position is probably playing in the Patrick Chung/Tavon Wilson role, if Miami is convinced, they can play Eric Rowe as a split safety when required. Clicks & Closes quickly, like Reshad Jones. Good tackler in space. Physical. 67 solo tackles in 2019. Displays good closing speed (watch the play against Penn State). For the Dolphins, he’s on my short list of guys who can pay the Chung/Wilson role. While he’s not in Mobile, keep an eye on SMU’s Patrick Nelson. Hat tip to Chris Kouffman for turning me onto Nelson.
Alohi Gilman – Notre Dame – Antoine Brooks lite. Better coverage player, but not as dynamic close to the LOS. Good tackler who makes plays on the ball. 3 FFs in 2019, 6 total in his career at Notre Dame (3 years of playing time). 58 solo tackles in 2018 (better team defense). Interested to see if he’s more of a slot player or can play SS in the NFL. Versatility is something Miami will like.
Intrigued: Kyle Dugger – Lenoir-Rhyne – Division II player at the Senior Bowl. I know Jim Nagy really likes him. Intrigued to see his size on display. 6’2” 220lbs.
Want to see more of: All the CBs. Other than Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette and A.J. Terrell, I haven’t watched many corners throughout the year. Curious to see if any stand out.
Others I Like:
Ashtyn Davis – California – I know Travis has, or is very likely to, talk about him a lot this week. He’s one of the few ideal candidates in this year’s draft of the MOF FS spot in Miami’s defense. They may be comfortable with Bobby McCain for that role, but in my eyes, moving McCain back to the slot and tabbing a guy like Davis would improve the secondary as a whole.
I also think it’s funny that we’ll see corners named Lamar Jackson and A.J. Green in Mobile this week.
If I’m pressed into picking five names I think Miami will really like from this year’s Senior Bowl, I’d probably stack them as:
1) Ashtyn Davis – FS – California
2) Malik Harrison – LB – Ohio State
3) Jason Strowbridge – DE – North Carolina
4) Damon Arnette – CB – Ohio State
5) Evan Weaver – LB – California
I left off several guys like Darrell Taylor, Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings. They’re all guys Miami will like, but with Biegel and Van Ginkel in the fold, are they really going to be that interested? Especially with a guy like Yannick Ngakoue lurking in free agency, who he himself has already teased some things about Miami and Jason Taylor on his Twitter timeline? Yeah, give me Ngakoue there.
As for my guy, Antoine Brooks Jr., I think he’d be a really nice fit for Miami. But with Eric Rowe’s capability, I have to wonder whether or not they’d look at someone in that role or tend to focus on guys who can play FS and be able to play in split safety looks. There’s also some intriguing names out there in free agency like Justin Simmons and Von Bell to watch out for.
It’ll be a fun week to watch, and feel free to @ me at @KevinMD4 if you have any questions about these guys.
- Miami Dolphins meeting with Jordan Love at the Senior Bowl January 21, 2020
- Senior Bowl 2020 Preview Through Miami Dolphins Lens – Defense January 20, 2020
- Kevin’s Senior Bowl Defensive Brain Dump January 19, 2020
- Senior Bowl 2020 Preview Through Miami Dolphins Lens – Offense January 19, 2020
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