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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins-Bengals: The Aftermath

Travis Wingfield

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Foreword:

As we develop a weekly content schedule for the season, I wanted something to bridge the gap between the Sunday night game breakdown column and the Tuesday film review. So, here we are with a smorgasbord of information, statistics, snap counts, and whatever is prudent to the Dolphins game from the Sunday prior.

We’ll dive into the game data from Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, grab some quotes from the player’s and coach’s pressers, and continue to provide the most comprehensive coverage on the Miami Dolphins you can find.

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Dolphins-Bengals

Team Stats:

One side of the football is trending in an extremely encouraging direction. The other, however, has become the same tired wash, rinse, repeat routine for the Dolphins in the post-Marino era.

Adam Gase constructed an offense that was supposed to carry a rebuilt defense, but the converse has been true through five games. Gase’s offense ranks 27th in yards per game and passing offense. The running game has produced more than the pass at 20th best in football, but the Dolphins 19.8 points per game ranks 28th in the league.

Miami is 29th in the league converting third downs, 28th in points per drive, 30th in time of possession and dead last (32nd) in plays ran.

So how is this Dolphins team winning games?

Simple. The defense and special teams.

Jakeem Grant is now the only player in the league with multiple special teams scores (102-yard kick return and 71-yard punt return).

Though Miami’s defense is ranked 23rd in yards allowed, no one has more than the Dolphins 10 interceptions. The Miami D is allowing just 3.7 yards per carry, sixth in the NFL.

Though Miami’s 23.4 points allowed per game ranks 16th, three of those touchdowns were given up by Miami’s kickoff unit or offensive touchdowns allowed (one scoop and score, one pick-six).

Dolphins Offense:

Snap Counts

 

Player Snaps (Percentage of Snaps)
QB Ryan Tannehill 64 (100%)
RB Kenyan Drake 41 (64.1%)
RB Frank Gore 26 (40.6%)
WR Kenny Stills 60 (94%)
WR Albert Wilson 58 (90.6%)
WR Danny Amendola 53 (82.8%)
TE Mike Gesicki 30 (46.9%)
TE Nick O’Leary 28 (43.4%)
TE Durham Smythe 14 (21.9%)
LT Laremy Tunsil 38 (59.4%)
LT Sam Young 26 (40.6%)

 

The other four offensive linemen played all 64 reps in the trenches. Some played well, others were an utter tire fire. Ja’Wuan James has pieced together two of his worst games as a professional. He allowed a sack, an additional hit on the quarterback and was frequently beat in the ground game (49.5 – failing grade).

Tunsil has played like all Dol-fans had hoped in year-three. He didn’t allow a single pressure in his 22 pass blocking reps. He was lost in the third quarter to an injury and his replacement, Sam Young, was not as sharp. Young registered the worst grade of any Dolphin this season (12.1 total) allowing four pressures on 20 pass pro reps.

Ted Larsen was an unmitigated disaster in his own right – his pass blocking grade was a paltry 21.0 with four hurries, one sack and one hit allowed on Tannehill.

On the season, Miami’s currently graded in the following positions via PFF:

Laremy Tunsil: 28th of 109 OTs
Ja’Wuan James: 46th of 109 OTs
Sam Young: DEAD LAST 109/109
Ted Larsen: 70th of 86 OGs
Jesse Davis: 57th of 86 OGs
Travis Swanson: 10th of 44 Cs

Nowhere near acceptable.

The biggest sufferer of the poor line-play has been Ryan Tannehill. His last two games make up perhaps the worst two-game stretch of his career. After another sub-60 passer rating game, Tannehill is the 37th overall graded quarterback according to PFF. He is 20th in passer rating, 15th in completion percentage and throwing interceptions at the 7th highest rate in the league.

Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Gore has the 34th most rushing yards in the league and Kenyan Drake the 39th highest tally. Gore averages 4.3 yards per carry and Drake under four at 3.9.

None of the tight ends allowed a pressure in pass pro, but none of the three had an impact as a pass catcher.

The wide outs didn’t have their best showing of the season either. Albert Wilson was elusive after the catch; that earned him the highest grade among the unit, but Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola and Jakeem Grant all landed in the F category.

Grant is 19th in the NFL in yards per route run, Wilson 32nd, Stills 61st, and Amendola 93rd.

Just about any offensive category you search will yield a result that has the Dolphins near the bottom of the league. Three-and-out percentage, yards-per-game, plays-per-drive, time-of-possession, Miami is off to an awfully inauspicious start.

Dolphins Defense:

Snap Counts

 

Player Snaps (Percentage of Team Snaps)
DE Charles Harris 42 (70%)
DE Robert Quinn 41 (68.3%)
DE Jonathan Woodard 25 (41.7%)
DE Cameron Malveaux 19 (31.7%)
LB Kiko Alonso 60 (100%)
LB Raekwon McMillan 43 (71.7%)
LB Jerome Baker 34 (56.7%)
CB Xavien Howard 60 (100%)
CB Torry McTyer 57 (95%)
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick 41 (68.3%)
SS Reshad Jones 60 (100%)
FS T.J. McDonald 59 (98.3%)

 

Before we get to the grades and advanced metrics, any scenario where Torry McTyer out-reps Minkah Fitzpatrick is simply poor planning. Fitzpatrick might be one of the five best players on this team. He matched A.J. Green, you know, that all-pro, step-for-step in coverage a few times – yet he finds himself on the bench for 32% of the game.

That’s inexcusable personnel usage.

Reshad Jones played with a partially torn labrum and did so at an all-pro level. He registered a pressure, eight tackles, four run stops, batted a pass that was picked off and allowed -2 yards on two pass targets.

Torry McTyer, T.J. McDonald and Fitzpatrick all graded out low, but Fitzpatrick’s impact covering Green, and his tackling were both fantastic signs for a rookie in his fifth game. Fitzpatrick thwarted a screen play on a 3rd and 2 to go at the end of the half. It forced the pun that Grant returned for a touchdown.

Oct 7, 2018; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass while under pressure from Miami Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker (55) and defensive end Jonathan Woodard (76) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The linebacker play was great for Miami. Raekwon McMillan made five tackles – four of which were run stops. He only allowed 10 yards receiving on three coverage targets.

Jerome Baker was a monster getting home for two sacks and making three run stops. Kiko Alonso wasn’t as active in the running game and allowed a touchdown in coverage. His interception was nothing special – right place at the right time.

Vincent Taylor continues to prove unblockable. He checked in with three pressures, two more run stops and a blocked field goal.

Job Security Waning?

It sounds ridiculous to start talking about wholesale changes just five weeks into a season in which Miami has a winning record. But it’s the same trends that continue to beat this Dolphins team that has fans restless.

Three years into the program and Adam Gase’s offense isn’t just bad, it’s so far removed from the successful attack-units in the league that all the goodwill of a 3-0 start has been washed away.

Tannehill’s back-to-back eggs have brought even his staunchest supporters to a crossroads. Therein lies a downside and an upside to this situation.

The downside: The 2019 quarterback class leaves scouts wanting. The Dolphins chances of upgrading over Tannehill are slim.

The upside: The two best stretches of Tannehill’s career came after similar adversity. In 2014, Joe Philbin was nondescript about his starting quarterback, leading to a dynamic stretch of play from Tanenhill. The script was similar in 2016 when Tannehill ripped off a six-game winning streak.

Poor pre-snap recognition and post-snap identification, failure-after-failure against pressure and very little penchant for winning off-script, things need to improve – especially with ball security.

Tannehill has 11 games to show progress upon that 2016 season – five games in, he has regressed.

@WingfieldNFL

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NFL Draft

Fits and Starts of the 2019 NFL Draft–Jarrett Stidham

Shawn Digity

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USA Today
A shot of Jarrett Stidham during the Senior Bowl in January. Image courtesy of USA Today

Which 2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks fit for the Miami Dolphins, which ones could start, and which ones aren’t on the table?

Let’s dive into the first installment of Fits and Starts with Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham.

2019 NFL Draft quarterbacks and Fits and Starts intro

I hope you’re enjoying all the Kyler Murray talk; it’s not going anywhere for the next two months. So, with all the hype surrounding the Heisman winner and his decision to play in the NFL over the MLB, it makes sense that Murray shot up the draft boards in rapid fashion.

Murray has been connected with the Miami Dolphins, and it makes sense. The Dolphins need a quarterback to lead the franchise into the future, especially with the start of the Brian Flores era.

But what happens if the Dolphins can’t get Kyler Murrayin the 2019 Draft? Let’s take that a step further. What if the Dolphins don’t get any of the QBs that are pegged to go in the first round? Dwayne HaskinsDrew LockDaniel Jones, along with Murray, are all in the conversation to go off the board in the first round.

The 2019 QB class hasn’t exactly been lauded for its talent, but that doesn’t mean its totally devoid of untapped potential on Days 2 and 3. There are some diamonds in the rough and some could be on the Dolphins’ radar come April. The Fits and Starts mini-series will be focusing on these overshadowed mid-round prospects and who could fit into a role with the Miami Dolphins.

Let’s get into the first name on the list: Jarrett Stidham.

Jarrett Stidham and his NFL Future

The first quarterback on the docket is Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham. He’s an enigmatic player. He was in the conversation last draft season (before he returned to Auburn) to go in the second round. He was also talked about as a dark-horse Heisman candidate before the college season started.

His junior season didn’t go exactly as scripted, though. Jarrett Stidham had an up-and-down season, and his draft stock has been all over the place, consequently. He’s polarizing in the Twitter Draft realm with many draftniks either loving or hating him. I predict that he’ll go in the third round, but I could see the need for the position pushing him into the second round.

In a lot of ways, I would compare Jarrett Stidham to Ryan Tannehill. With that being said, he’s a poor man’s Tannehill. He’s not as athletic and I wouldn’t put his arm strength or accuracy on the same level, but there are comparisons that can be drawn.

Jarrett Stidham Mini-Report

He has some starter qualities, and he’s very raw in that regard. He also did not get a lot of help from his receivers during the 2018 season. I saw a lot of dropped passes that should’ve been “gimmes”. Jarrett Stidham has a moderately high ceiling, I would say. He’s extremely rough around the edges, but I can see him becoming successful in the NFL; it’ll come with many growing pains, albeit.

He also has some accuracy issues from a lot of the film I’ve watched of him. He’ll make some unbelievable down-the-field bombs, but also make some passes that are too high, too inside or too outside. Many passes were underthrown and I saw plays where WRs had to turn and play some defense. The accuracy is a roller coaster, and that’s something that is hard to improve at the next level; accuracy is more a God-given ability than it is a teachable skill.

Something else that I wasn’t wild about was how Stidham reacted to chaos and pressure. When the line collapsed, I saw some ugly escapes. Those ugly escapes will be ugly sacks in the NFL. I saw flashes of decent pocket presence, but like many of Stidham’s qualities, they were inconsistent.

That’s one of the best words I would use to describe Jarrett Stidham: inconsistent. Sometimes he’s good, sometimes he’s bad. Sometimes he’ll thread the needle for a 40-yard touchdown, sometimes he’ll undercut a route. But if the inconsistency is his biggest issue, which I believe it is, then I’m intrigued by his prospects at the next level with some next-level coaching.

At the End of the Day

So, if the Dolphins drafted Jarrett Stidham, it’d likely be on Day 2 and in the second round with the 48th pick. While the Dolphins are rebuilding, I could see them using a popular draft philosophy of taking a quarterback every year until one hits. If that’s the case, then Stidham could very well be a target if the Dolphins decide to address a bigger need or BPA with the 13th pick.

This could be a way for the Dolphins to hedge their bets while keeping an eye on the 2020 quarterbacks. Akin to the Redskins taking both RGIII and Kirk Cousins in the same draft in 2012, the Dolphins could take a flier on a mid-round quarterback and see what he could do in some games under the guidance of a veteran.

While I wouldn’t be upset by the pick, the Miami Dolphins would be wise to stay away from Jarrett Stidham, bottom line. I say that not because of Stidham’s shortcomings or upside but because of where the Miami Dolphins franchise finds itself.

If Jarrett Stidham goes out and has a decent showing in some live action during his rookie season, then that could affect the draft strategy regarding the 2020 class of quarterbacks.

I don’t want the Dolphins to keep waiting and waiting for someone to slowly develop as they did with Ryan Tannehill. Stidham is in a similar mold, looking at his tools and raw potential. I’m not sure how long it would take for Stidham develop, but I could see it turning into a situation where he takes a few steps forward every season.

Jarrett Stidham could be a quarterback that Chris Grier likes, but I would have a hard time believing that he’s a prospect that he would love–and that’s not what the Miami Dolphins need to right the ship.

 

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Miami Dolphins

State of the Roster – Linebackers

Travis Wingfield

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Prelude

The 2019 off-season schedule had an unusual beginning for the Miami Dolphins. Not that the once proud, winningest organization in the NFL is suddenly new to coaching turnover (quite the opposite, rather). It’s the timing of the hire that provides the distinction from Stephen Ross’ three other head coaching appointments.

Typically, when the incumbent or new staff is in-place by Early-January, the roster dominoes begin to take shape. Waiting for Brian Flores to win his fifth Lombardi Trophy delayed that process by a month.

Now, with the majority of Coach Flores’ staff settling into their new offices, we can begin to speculate and forecast what will transpire over the next three months.

It’s not hyperbole to say that these next three months are the most important of Chris Grier’s professional career. Miami’s new General Manager is charged with resurrecting a franchise that, in the last 15 years, has fallen from the peak of the winning percentage mountain top, all the way down to fifth place on that obscure, yet illustrious list.

In this series we are going to explore the current assets on the roster and what their futures hold. Plus, we’ll explore the free-agency market and point out scheme fit pieces the Dolphins might seek to add in April’s draft.

Linebackers 

Current Cash Owed: ~ $10.1 Million
NFL Average: ~ $18 Million

Players Under Contract – 2019 Cash Owed:

Raekwon McMillan – $892 K

After a slow start McMillan came on like gangbusters; at least in run-defense. From week-five on, McMillan was graded second by PFF against the run (trailing only Luke Kuechly). His first year off major reconstructive knee surgery, the upside is glowing.

McMillan has a knack for correctly hitting his run fits, shows a great first step, and plays exceptionally well downhill. The design of this new defense is going to have the former Buckeye shining.

McMillan’s Projected 2019 Action: Mike Linebacker

Jerome Baker – $654 K

Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Like McMillan, Baker was late to the party in 2018, but he too turned it on post-September. Baker was PFF’s #22 overall linebacker over the final 13 weeks of the season. Though Baker also excelled against the run, he was more balanced providing value in coverage and as a blitzer. His PRP was similarly low to McMillan’s, but when Baker arrive he sacked the QB (3 of 5 pressures).

Baker is the new-aged linebacker – run, hit, and cover; that’s his game. He will have to transition to a new role playing primarily on the ball and off the edge, likely the weak side, but he’s more than capable.

Baker’s Projected 2019 Action: Will Backer

Kiko Alonso – $7.9 M

Kiko Alonso is a living, breathing highlight reel. The problem, for Miami, is that he’s usually on someone else’s mixtape. Alonso does well when he I.D.’s his gap early, but those instances are few and far between. He hustles to the ball and has a knack for the takeaway, it’s just the other 995 snaps of the season you worry about.

Turned around by the athletic prowess of Josh Allen, Christian McCaffery, or just about every pass receiving specialist tailback, Alonso is fading towards irrelevance at the position. Moving on from the often burnt, often penalized Alonso, is a no-brainer.

Alonso’s Projected 2019 Action: Cut

Chase Allen – $645 K

New England’s Linebacker position, under Brian Flores, was the ultimate test of pliability. Chase Allen has a role lining up over the center as the nose-backer in one of Flores’ many defensive fronts.

Allen excelled in that role in Miami, albeit on a limited basis, and figures to be a core special teamer.

Allen’s Projected 2019 Action: Nose Backer/Core Special Teamer

Pending Free Agents – 2018 Salary

Stephone Anthony – $1.9 M

The ole’ Mike Tannenbaum specialty, Miami spent a fifth-round pick, and far too much cap allocation, on a player that never made a contribution. Anthony was toast in his limited defensive snaps and rarely found the ball on special teams.

Anthony’s Projected 2019 Action: Not Re-signed

2019 Linebacker Free Agent Market:

The Dolphins could spend this portion of the off-season on the sideline. The likely top three players on the depth chart are already signed, sealed, and delivered, finding backups and special teams is all that’s left to do.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Now if the ‘Phins are so inclined to spend on the big ticket item, Anthony Barr would make nice strong-side linebacker in this new scheme. His coverage limitations should drive his cost down, but that’s not how free agency works – he’ll be priced out of Miami’s range.

Deone Bucannon is an interesting option that could help Miami remain fluid as they implement dime and quarter packages on the back-end. A safety/linebacker hybrid, Bucannon affords the defense the luxury of changing personnel without substituting. Bucannon is an excellent match-up piece in the passing game as well. Like Barr, Bucannon would come at a cost.

More realistically, Miami are looking at former Patriot Marquis Flowers and Eli Harold (Detroit).

2019 Linebacker Draft Class:

It’s not inconceivable that the Dolphins make this position a priority with the undrafted crop post-draft. The same idea with Jerome Baker, the ‘Phins need to find players that can run, hit, and cover but, most importantly, start off on special teams.

New Mexico State’s Terrill Hanks had 11 sacks and eight picks in college. His vast coverage and range skill set should be no surprise, he’s a former safety. Hanks struggles taking on blocks but that’s not a trait he will have to worry about in this scheme.

Bobby Okereke (Stanford) fits the run/hit/cover bill in his own right. North Carolina State’s Germaine Pratt falls into that category as well.

2019 Linebacker Prediction:

There are plenty of intriguing options at the positon but, with the needs on the defensive line and in the secondary, Miami could punt on this off-season’s linebacker class. In a defense that frequently uses one true ‘backer, Raekwon McMillan satisfies that bill. Jerome Baker will be the second linebacker and the Phins will look to pair Chase Allen with more sub-package types.

I’m adding Marquis Flowers in free agency – he was with the Pats for the first four years of his career. I’m also drafting Stanford’s Bobby Okereke on day-three. He’s an intelligent player with plus range and will help Miami’s flexibility in sub-packages.

Mike/Primary Linebacker: Raekwon McMillan
Will/Secondary Linebacker: Jerome Baker
Nose Backer: Chase Allen
Sub-Package: Rookie (Bobby Okereke)
Depth: UDFA/FA (Marquis Flowers)

Tomorrow: Cornerbacks

@WingfieldNFL

 

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Miami Dolphins

5 Viable Options for Miami at Pick 13

Gabe Markman

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Mock drafts before April are about as futile as trick-or-treating before Halloween. Sure you might get miraculously lucky at one or two spots, but mostly you’ll just get weird looks from people. That being said, I’ve decided to mock up some scenarios the Dolphins may be presented with come late April.

Despite a flurry of updated scouting reports, trades, and free agent decisions that will ultimately happen before the draft, I couldn’t resist speculating what some of the most enticing options might be waiting there for Miami. I’ll be looking at these options under the assumption that Miami keeps the 13th pick come draft day.

1 – Trade Down

Trading down was something owner Stephen Ross reportedly pounded the table for last year. However, GM Chris Grier and company persuaded him to stay put and take Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th overall pick. While Fitzpatrick turned out to be a promising investment, I would expect the war room to try and gather as much draft capital as they can this time around.

The organization, specifically Ross, has put an emphasis on rebuilding the roster from the ground up these next few years, and there’s no better way to do that than by hoarding draft picks.

Apr 26, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number eleven overall pick to the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2 – Blue Chip Falls to 13 (BPA)

Much like the case with Fitzpatrick last year, there’s bound to be a blue chip player that falls out of the top 10 this year. If Miami’s war room decides not to trade back in the first round, it’s likely because they feel that a top talent has fallen into their laps at pick 13–similar to the Laremy Tunsil slide in 2016.

Unfortunately Nick Bosa is out of the question for Miami. I can’t fathom a universe where Bosa would fall to 13. Quinnen Williams would be a no-brainer here, but much like Bosa, its unlikely he’ll fall to pick 13. If he does however, he would fill a major need for Miami as well as add tremendous upside to a lack-luster defensive line.

Three prospects that also have top 10 grades are Greedy Williams, Josh Allen, and Devin White. These three are the physical definition of what you look for in a potential All-Pro football player. With all the shuffling expected to happen to Miami’s roster, these players could be immediate contributors and leaders as soon as they walk onto the field.

3 – Draft QB

I’m a firm believer that Miami needs to be patient with their quarterback situation. Miami isn’t expecting to win many games in the coming year or two, and this isn’t expected to be a great draft class for passers. Now as much as I like Kyler Murray, I can’t help but to think that other quarterbacks like Jake Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence would provide more upside in the long run.

Despite the potential of future quarterbacks to come, this brain-trust of experienced scouts and well respected personnel guys might not let a guy like Murray slip past pick 13. Miami has many needs on paper, and quarterback is right up near the top of those needs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kyler be the first step of this rebuild if the war room thinks he’s worth the risk.

October 21, 2017 - Miami Gardens, Florida, U.S. - Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) celebrates a fourth-quarter sack at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Final score: Miami Dolphins 31, New York Jets 28 (Photo by Andres Leiva/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

October 21, 2017 – Miami Gardens, Florida, U.S. – Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) celebrates a fourth-quarter sack at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Sunday, October 22, 2017. Final score: Miami Dolphins 31, New York Jets 28 (Photo by Andres Leiva/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

4 – Attempt to Replace an All-Pro

Sadly enough, there won’t be a younger clone of Cameron Wake waiting there at pick 13. The end of an era is coming, and sooner or later the Dolphins won’t have the consistency off the edge that Wake has been able to provide for so many years.

Brian Burns reminds me of Wake at times, but he also reminds me of Dion Jordan at times. The general opinion is that Burns could end up being a project player. I have no doubt this coaching staff has the ability to maximize the potential of Burns, but they might not like the value here.

Rashan Gary would be another enticing option were he to fall to Miami. Gary’s flexibility across the defensive line coincides perfectly with Brian Flores‘ multiple defensive scheme. Gary has the potential to be an All-Pro early in his career wherever Folres decides to put him on the defensive line.

5 – Address the O-Line

I’m interested to see what happens with Ju’Wuan James. He’s been a quiet strength for Miami. The combination of him and Tunsil has proven to be a consistent force when healthy. If James is willing to come back for the right price, Miami would be lucky to have one less hole to worry about.

If a deal with James isn’t struck, then offensive linemen will be one of Miami’s top priorities in the draft. They may be tempted to take an early look at offensive lineman depending on how the board falls. I expect the war room to find at least one starting quality offensive lineman within the first three rounds.

Dolphins’ fans are at the beginning of a very long journey. The recent organizational hires have inspired widespread optimism across the fan base. For the first time in a long time the future is looking bright for the Dolphins. Needless to say this draft will be a pivotal start to the Dolphins’ rebuild. The difficult decisions that Grier and his new staff will soon be faced with will reveal the direction in which this franchise is headed.

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