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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins 2018 Rookie Draft Class Guide

Travis Wingfield

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Savor the outpouring of news and acquisitions from the last three days – it will have to hold us over till August. Till then, it’s an endless debate on how the Dolphins will trim the roster from 90 to 53 players in preparation for the 2018 season.

The Miami Dolphins added eight players to the roster during the NFL Draft, with plenty more to come in the UDFA-frenzy that begins now. Holding the cards close to the vest throughout the whole process, the Dolphins plan for the 2018 season was laid out on the table over the course of the weekend.

It began in free agency. Robert Quinn coming up on a contract, Josh Sitton a one or two-year band aid, Miami are opting for a year-by-year roster-construction strategy. The Draft only serves as confirmation of that approach.

Miami entered the weekend with a handful of needs:

– Supplementing the match-up pieces and coverage ability on defense
– Remake the tight end room
– Adding speed to the defense
– Finding a long-term running-mate to pair with Kenyan Drake
– An interior pass-rush presence
– Upgrading the backup quarterback position

Most of those boxes were checked over the course of a three-day, 256-pick extravaganza that is the NFL Draft. This is an examination of the newest Miami Dolphins, and the roles they will fill in their rookie seasons.

The pre-UDFA updated Miami roster with projected snap-counts and depth-chart.

  1. (11) SAF Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama –

Reshad Jones has been a premier safety for a half-decade. Miami has struggled to find a complementary piece capable of playing the free to Jones’ strong safety position. The Dolphins tried to make the safeties interchangeable with T.J. McDonald in 2018, and a litany of failed experiments before him.Enter Minkah Fitzpatrick.

The coach on the field at Alabama, “Coach Saban’s Son,” Fitzpatrick is a temperature changer for any defense he plays in. Manning the star position in Nick Saban’s defense in 2017, Fitzpatrick is capable of wearing any hat his coach asks of him. In Miami, Fitzpatrick will use his jack-of-all-trades skill set to play every rep. Slot corner, big nickel, single-high center field, Fitzpatrick can erase the tight ends that have plagued the middle of the Dolphins defense for a long time.

Depth Chart Projection: Starting safety
Biggest Competition: T.J. McDonald
Snap Count Projection: 100%
Role: Every package in the playbook

  1. (42) TE Mike Gesicki, Penn State –

The second tight end off the board, Gesicki’s selection tips the Dolphins hand for the direction of the offense. Throughout his career, Adam Gase has coached a bevy of pro-bowl tight ends. Marcus Pollard, Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Julius Thomas, Martellus Bennett and Zach Miller became focal points of Gase’s obsession with the Y-iso mis-match piece.

Jordan Cameron, and a well-passed his prime Julius Thomas, handcuffed Gase’s ability to fully utilize his playbook in Miami. Now, with Gesicki, the backside safety or linebacker tasked with covering the Dolphins’ tight end will have a tall order – literally.

Gesicki won’t be asked to do much more than get in the way, or seal off the back-side edge in the running game, but his addition to an offense that struggles in the red zone is a major boon. He’s a leaper with strong hands at the catch point and knack for creating separation with quickness.

Depth Chart Projection: Starting tight end
Biggest Competition: None
Snap Count Projection: 80+%
Role: Primary TE in 11-personnel and 12-personnel, detached TE, red-zone

  1. (73) OLB Jerome Baker, Ohio State –

For far too long, the Dolphins have lacked speed and coverage-ability at the linebacker position. Kiko Alonso was often asked to spot-drop 10-15 yards down the field and find pass-catchers in space – a botched plan. With Baker, that defensive scheme is no more.

Baker won’t take on blocks, he won’t disengage in between the b-gaps and improve the run-defense, but he can defend the edge running game and add a dynamic option to the nickel defense. Miami has struggled with running quarterbacks for as long as they have been destroyed by tight ends, Baker helps in both of those areas.

Depth Chart Projection: 2ndor 3rd linebacker
Biggest Competition: Kiko Alonso
Snap Count Projection: 50%
Role: Nickel linebacker

  1. (123) TE Durham Symthe, Notre Dame –

Every area Mike Gesicki struggles with, Smythe excels in. Primarily an in-line blocker that can seal the edge in the inside and outside zone schemes, Smythe is a throwback tight end. He averaged 16 yards-per-catch, albeit on just 15 receptions in college.

Smythe provides the Dolphins with another option in the red zone and allows for deception near the goal line. The Dolphins have used a third offensive lineman occasionally under Gase, Smythe has served as a “heavy” package piece as the outside man. Using a tight end, opposed to a tackle, in that role allows the Dolphins play action game to have more options throwing the football on the most crucial part of the field.

Depth Chart Projection: #2 Tight End
Biggest Competition: Marqueis Gray
Snap Count Projection: 40%
Role: 12 personnel, short-yardage and red-zone

  1. (131) RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State –

This was my favorite pick in the draft. Outside of Saquon Barkley, Ballage is the most athletically gifted back in this class. Breakaway speed, quick-twitch, soft hands, Ballage gives Gase another back capable of playing three downs.

A grounded, cerebral kid, Ballage prides himself on preparation. “I want to take responsibility and take care of the things I have to do before anyone has to ask me to do something. Rather than bringing in a slot receiver, just flex me out and I’ll fill that role.”

Another match-up piece, Ballage allows the Dolphins to disguise their intentions in terms of running or throwing the football on any given down.

Depth Chart Projection: #2 Running back
Biggest Competition: Frank Gore
Snap Count Projection: 50%
Role: Scheme diverse, the “2” in the 1-2 punch of Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage

  1. (209) CB Cornell Armstrong, Southern Miss –

The Dolphins have depth at the perimeter cornerback position, but the slot is a one-man band. Based purely on the merits of Miami’s defensive back prototype, Armstrong should compete to backup Bobby McCain. He’s a physical, competitive corner that loves to hit and tackle.

In his career at Southern Miss, Armstrong picked off five passes and registered 29 PBUs.

Depth Chart Projection: Last CB or practice squad
Biggest Competition: Torry McTyer
Snap Count Projection: 0%
Role: Nickel corner competing for a roster stop. Special teams

  1. (227) ILB Quentin Poling, Ohio –

The theme to get more athletic players that crave football continues for the Dolphins. Poling ran a 4.58 40-yard dash, leaped 10 feet, 7 inches on the broad-jump and is more of a coverage specialist than a downhill thumper. He registered 43.5 tackles-for-loss, 18 sacks and seven interceptions in his college career.

Depth Chart Projection: Last LB or practice squad
Biggest Competition: Terence Garvin and Chase Allen
Snap Count Projection: 0%
Role: Backup nickel linebacker

  1. (229) K Jason Sanders, New Mexico –

Sanders was 10 for 15 last year for the Lobos with a long of 53. He will be the Dolphins kicker in 2018.

Perhaps the biggest take away is the absence of a quarterback in the class. Ryan Tannehill has been receiving verbal endorsements from Gase and company all off-season. This weekend, the Dolphins backed-up their comments with an emphatic statement that Tannehill is the man.

Miami turns its focus now to the undrafted free agents. With only four defensive tackles on the roster, that position figures to get an infusion of UDFAs.

The Kenny Vaccaro and C.J. Anderson links to Miami were broken with the Fitzpatrick and Ballage picks. Jonathan Hankins is the big name on the free agent market, Miami could pursue the big DT post-June 1.

This roster underwent an overhaul and a philosophical shift. The offense is going to be an aerial assault (pass protecting offensive line, Mike Gesicki, Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola all added and versatile pass catching backs).

Updating to a current model of an NFL defense, Miami now has match-up pieces and more speed. The days of Kiko Alonso running down the field in coverage are over.

This Dolphins team is much closer to a return to the post-season than the cellar dweller the national media makes it out to be.

@WingfieldNFL

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    Mikey Moore

    April 29, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Great Article

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

One of the longest-tenured players on the team may very well be a Miami Dolphin for life.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Miami Dolphins have extended DeVante Parker through the 2023 season.

All of the details are still being flushed out, but the deal is a 4-year, $40m extension, with an $8m signing bonus (which is guaranteed).

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Parker will earn $4.5m guaranteed in 2020, and $7.7m guaranteed in 2021.

Parker signs this extension in the middle of a career year. His 55 catches are 1 shy of his career-high (56, 2016), his 882 receiving yards surpass his prior career-high by 138 yards (2016), and his 6 touchdowns are only 3 less than his career total coming into the 2019 season.

Whether it’s Chad O’Shea‘s offense, a shift in Quarterback mentality, or the receiver finally coming into his own, Parker has shown that he can be a #1 receiver in this offense. Though some fans may be hoping for DeAndre Hopkins or Odell Beckham Jr. “elite”, the truth is, Parker isn’t that far behind.

His extension is in line with his production, and it’s fair to say that Parker’s potential still hasn’t been tapped. It’ll be interesting to see how much Parker builds off of his career-year, especially if the Dolphins can solidify their offensive line and give their receivers a chance to get open (more often).

Parker joins Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey as the only other 1st-round picks drafted this decade to have signed an extension with the team.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Linden Stephens
Linden Stephens defending Los Angeles Rams tight end Johnny Mundt

MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – Miami Dolphins continue to change up the roster

The Miami Dolphins have continued their roster churning in Week 15, leading up to their prizefight against the New York Giants on December 15.

While it’s been a mainstay strategy for the Dolphins this year, to comb over the waiver wire and the free agency market, there was a significant uptick in waiver wire awards last, totaling four new players being claimed.

Last week’s claimed players included Trevor Davis, Mack Hollins, Zach Zenner, and Zach Sieler. Zenner’s Miami stint was short-lived; he was waived on Tuesday, December 10 to make room for the newest wave of Dolphins signees.

Along with Zenner’s release, the Miami Dolphins added cornerbacks Ken Webster and Ryan Lewis to the Injured Reserve list.

Those three transactions allowed the Dolphins to scoop a player from the New England Patriots’ practice squad, defensive back Nate Brooks, a second player from the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, linebacker Jamal Davis II, and a third player, offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who was waived by the Green Bay Packers.

Nate Brooks is a rookie defensive back that played at North Texas and has spent time with the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

Jamal Davis II is also a rookie. He entered the league from Akron. As mentioned above, he spent time with the Titans earlier this year before the Miami Dolphins signed him.

Adam Pankey is the most traveled player the Dolphins have added. Pankey went undrafted in 2017 out of West Virginia and has had two runs with the Packers and a short one with the Titans.

On December 7, cornerback Linden Stephens was added to the roster in a last-minute shuffle before the Dolphins-Jets game. Cornerback Chris Lammons was released to make room for Stephens on the squad, per Adam Beasley.

Stephens has had tenures with the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. He formerly played at Cincinnati in college.

In practice squad news, cornerback Rashard Causey was added to the group on December 12, per Safid Deen. Causey played college ball at UCF and has spent time with the Denver Broncos.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins set to run it back in New York

Who: Dolphins (3-10) @ Giants (2-11)
When: Sunday December 15, 1:00 East
Where: MetLife Stadium — East Rutherford, NJ
Weather: 35 degrees, partly cloudy
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +3

DolphinsGiants

The Miami Dolphins did not equip Brian Flores with a competitive roster for the 2019 season. Despite taking a path traveled by nobody else in the league, Miami sits with a better record than three teams in the league, and Sunday will pit the Fins up against one of those teams.

The Giants thought they were constructing a playoff roster that could run the football behind former number-two overall pick Saquon Barkley, and disrupt both the run and pass with an influx of high resources spent on the defensive line.

Even with half the cash payroll of the next lowest team on that notorious list, and 11 of its original opening day starters gone for one reason or another, Miami enter a week-15 road game as mere three-point dogs.

Still, with three or four new bodies working into the rotation every week, Brian Flores’ Dolphins have won three games since the bye week, and been within a score in the fourth quarter for all nine games.

Does either team want to win this game? Of course the players and coaches will want to be rewarded for a long, arduous work week, but what good does a victory do in the grand scheme of things? Flores has proven that he can coach his ass off, while Pat Shurmur is assured to lose his job whatever happens these final three weeks.

The cost, for the Giants, could be Chase Young. For Miami, perhaps even more severe as the best quarterback prospect of the last several years could suddenly be available because of medical concerns, should the team land in the top five.

A victory Sunday will likely remove Miami from that perch as the Lions and Cardinals are both underdogs, and would each jump the Dolphins with a one-game difference in the standings.

The Scheme:

Offense:

Mike Shula’s scheme is as 11-personnel heavy as any in the league, but things have changed due to injuries. Without Evan Ingram to provide the ultimate flexibility between 11 and 12-personnel packages, the Giants have lacked much variety in his absence. Using 81% one back, one tight end (3rdmost in football), Miami will be afforded the opportunity to get creative on defense altering its pre-snap look from the same package.

The Giants are successful on just 41% of their plays from this personnel grouping, including 12 interceptions, 31 sacks and just 6.6 yards per passing play. New York only runs one other package (12-personnel) and also doesn’t have a lot of success out of that grouping. Adhering to old school principles, the Giants don’t throw from run formations, and the predictability has the Giants averaging just 5.7 YPA from 12-personnel.

The Giants rank 26th in total offense, 22nd in passing, 26th in rushing and 25th in scoring.

Defense:

James Bettcher is a fan of sending pressure, and he will certainly try to heat up Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday. Fitzpatrick might have the last laugh with his ability to get the ball hot to the interior receivers working in behind the linebackers and winning one-on-one matchups with a young defensive backfield.

The Giants base is a 3-4 look, but elements of that defense are always sparingly used because of the nature of modern day football. Bettcher wants to get pressure out of his outside backers in Markus Golden, Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, using his interior backers in a more traditional, off-ball sense.

New York blitzes 28.7% of the time — exactly the middle of the pack at 16th— but it’s safe to assume they’ll turn that number up on Sunday. The G-Men are in the middle of the pack in hurry rate, knockdown rate and pressure rate. The Giants 94 missed tackles are 13th most in the league.

The Giants rank 27th in total defense 26th in passing, 20th in rushing and 28th in scoring defense.

The Players:

Offense:

Eli Manning is Eli Manning. The Giants hung onto him for three years too long, and his storied career appears to be coming to an end in three weeks. Filling in for the injured Daniel Jones gives the Miami defense a chance to tee off on a quarterback for the first time since the home win over Sam Darnold and the New York Jets.

Manning can’t move, he can’t drive the ball, and there’s really no reason for him to be on a roster at this point. The Dolphins will hit him, turn him over, and dominate the Giants offense is he plays.

New York funneled a lot of resources into its offensive line, and it’s still one of the worst in football. Miami lacks true pass rushers, so it’ll be up to the stunts and games up front to get pressure. Expect Flores to blitz Manning relentlessly, likely with a lot of zero looks.

Holding Saquon Barkley has been easier for opponents this year. A lot of the Giants running game gets Barkley going horizontally, and he’s been able to make the big plays due to poor blocking and a nasty ankle sprain earlier in the year.

This game will be a big test for Taco Charlton, Vince Biegel, Andrew Van Ginkel, Charles Harris and the rest of the Miami edge players.

Defense:

Markus Golden stands to wreck this game for Miami. He’ll come down off the offense’s left edge, and that position has been an issue for the Dolphins all year long. Sliding protection and using a back or tight end to chip Golden is the only way Fitzpatrick will have any time to throw.

On the inside, the Giants offer the beef that Miami’s interior line struggles with the most. Dexter Lawrence is massive, and those are the kind of players that give Daniel Kilgore problems up front.

Alec Ogletree remains a focal point of the Giants defense, and that presents a lot of opportunities for the Dolphins. Look for Miami to empty out the backfield from 12 and 11-personnel, find Ogletree in coverage, and go to work.

The New York secondary is full of inexperience. Rookie DeAndre Baker has worn the rabbit hat (teams go after him) all year long while Janoris Jenkins appears to have past his prime.

This is a slow defense and I’d be surprised if Chad O’Shea doesn’t have his way with it in the passing game.

The Medical:

(Coming Friday)

The Opportunities:

If Devante Parker can go, there isn’t a player in the Giants defensive backfield that can handle his skill set. Regardless, Miami’s passing schemes will create opportunities for whichever players are healthy, especially Allen Hurns inside on mismatches from 12-personnel against linebackers. Patrick Laird should draw some favorable matchups in the passing game in his own right — expect a big day for The Intern.

If it’s Eli, expect a lot of pressure sent to overwhelm a bad Giants line and quarterback. If it’s Daniel Jones, expect Miami to play coverage and take the ball away from the rookie. Either way, this is the day the Dolphins defense gets healthy.

The Concerns:

The Giants skill players can make some noise. Darius Slayton’s speed is a problem, and he’s been producing regardless of who’s under center. The Dolphins added yet another pair of defensive backs to the injured reserve, and that’ll provide a challenge against Slayton, Golden Tate and Sterling Sheppard.

Miami haven’t been able to block many pass rushes, and they’ve created almost nothing by way of the ground game, so the Giants talented front is an issue. There will be one-on-one opportunities aplenty for Markus Golden, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams.

The Projected Outcome:

It doesn’t matter if it’s Daniel Jones or Eli Manning. Both are going to give the Dolphins defense opportunities to take the football away, and neither presents much fear to a unit that is full of undrafted free agents are largely unknowns. Manning doesn’t have the physical traits to scare anyone and Jones is on track for the most turnovers at the position per game of all time. If Jones plays, it will be on a tender ankle that robs the one trait he has — his mobility.

Miami beat the Jets in November in convincing fashion. Every other game since the bye week — with the exception of the Cleveland and Buffalo (home) games — have been white knuckle affairs. This game has the makeup of a blowout, but in favor of the road team.

A bitter, angry team off the loss last week responds to Brian Flores’ message and puts a beating on the Giants.

Dolphins 27
Giants 13

@WingfieldNFL

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