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Dolphins Mid-Season Inventory

Travis Wingfield

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Many pundits and detractors would’ve considered a .500 start to the 2018 season a success for the Miami Dolphins. But after a 3-0 sprint out of the gates, losers of four of the last five, Miami’s second straight collapse under Adam Gase seems like more of a certainty than a possibility.

The trade deadline is hours away and Miami has to make a decision between trying to patch the holes on this team with temporary band aids and taking more of a big-picture approach.

Today’s 4 ‘o’ clock deadline could prove telling regarding Miami’s future plans, not just with the roster, but from a coaching standpoint.

If Gase’s job is safe, Miami would be wise to weigh 2019 heavily into the decisions coming down the pipe any minute now.

But if Stephen Ross wants this 4-4 team to make a post-season surge, and tells Gase his future depends on it, we could see the same moves Dolphins fans have grown tired of – selling away future assets for less-than-desirable placeholders.

Before we get into the trade possibilities, let’s take the inventory of this current roster – both for the remainder of 2018, and looking ahead to next season.

Quarterback –

If anyone knows the long-term prognosis on Ryan Tannehill, please reach out and let me know. Tannehill’s latest injury is shrouded in as much uncertainty as the first knee injury that led the quarterback to miss games for the first time in his career (20 straight, now 23 of the last 28).

Sep 16, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA;
New York Jets defensive end Henry Anderson (96) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) in the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Unless Tannehill returns (and does so immediately) and plays as well or better than his 2016 season, his job in Miami is in serious danger.

Beyond Tannehill, Brock Osweiler is a known commodity (not in a good way) and Luke Falk is the type of talent teams will try to develop as a potential backup quarterback.

Running Back –

Mismanaging the tailback position is officially a trend under Adam Gase. First it was Jay Ajayi in 2016, then Kenyan Drake in 2017 and back again with the latter in 2018. Drake has exhibited the same elite qualities as far as a big-play back, pass protection, and working as a pass catcher.

Drake has been terribly managed in terms of workload this season, but the presence of Frank Gore has facilitated that mis-usage. Gore has been terrific – as good as any Dolphins fan could’ve hoped for, but he doesn’t have a future in Miami. Meanwhile, Kalen Ballage is marinating on the bench.

You would think, given the nature of the quarterback situation, Miami would lean on this trio of backs. Going into 2019, Miami might be able to stay the course at this position – perhaps acquiring sledgehammer type if Gore decides to retire.

Wide Receiver –

Miami is set up nicely at this position for the future. In the interim, the Dolphins need to put themselves in a position to make a long term decision on Devante Parker. If they decide not to move him today, he should be a featured weapon in the offense – the Dolphins need to find out if he can produce consistently for a chunk of games.

The Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant pairing is as electrifying as they come in the league. Kenny Stills figures back into the mix and Danny Amendola is under contract for another season. If it’s not Parker, Miami’s one move would be to find a bigger-bodied wide-out that can man the X position for the possession type of routes this offense asks for.

Tight End –

The biggest disaster unit of 2018, the Dolphins have to hope Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe show something before the season is over. Nick O’Leary can likely slide into 2019 in the MarQueis Gray role.

Gesicki’s growth in year-two is going to be paramount. It takes tight ends longer than most positons to get the professional game down (three phases of the game right from day one), so bringing in a veteran tight end to hedge against Gesicki might be necessary.

Offensive Line –

Laremy Tunsil is an elite left tackle, Jesse Davis is a starting quality guard and the rest is up in the air. Ja’Wuan James is set to hit the market, but his inconsistencies have to give Miami pause regarding his long-term viability. With the too frequent outhouse performances, a checkered medical history, and a huge pay day looming, this might be the toughest decision of the off-season.

Beyond that, Miami’s roster is full of swing-interior players. Josh Sitton should return in 2019, but banking on his continued health and performance would be negligible, to say the least.

Dan Kilgore was less than inspiring, Ted Larsen has been nothing short of a nightmare and Travis Swanson has been equal parts impressive and terrible in four games.

Going forward this season, Miami doesn’t have a lot of options for growth-type of players to step into the lineup. Zach Sterup is the top candidate to do so, but his path to playing time comes via either a position switch or an injury.

Defensive Ends –

This is the group in the direst of straights both for the 2018 season and beyond. Cam Wake and Robert Quinn haven’t provided the returns the Dolphins had hoped for, and long-term viability becomes an even greater concern.

Oct 8, 2017; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake (91) sacks Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Cassel (16) near the end zone during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Wake is an ideal trade candidate today, but moving on from him would signal a punt on the season. The Dolphins have to make a decision on $12 million for Quinn in 2019, while 2017 first round pick Charles Harris is still dinged with an injury.

To get nothing out of this trio would set the defense and the franchise back significantly – that appears to be the case so far in 2018.

Outside of those three, Jonathan Woodard has the make-up of an edge-denting run defender, and Cameron Malveaux has flashed enough to warrant rotational work.

Miami desperately needs impact edge players this off-season.

Defensive Tackles –

Vincent Taylor continues to sit third in the rotation despite playing head and shoulders ahead of his depth chart superiors. Davon Godchaux is a damn fine player in his own right, so the pair ought to start alongside each other for the foreseeable future.

Akeem Spence figures to be a one-and-done project and the Dolphins have to find a pass rush presence on the interior this off-season. Supplementing the young tackles with a rotational player could get this DT group back to the success it had early in the season.

Linebackers –

Concerns over Raekwon McMillan’s long-term viability are real. He’s a liability in coverage and doesn’t have the sideline-to-sideline range you’d prefer in a middle linebacker. A scheme change could help out the Ohio State product, but he has a way to go.

Rookie Jerome Baker has flashed potential and could be the move-piece across this defense down the road. He needs more work as a blitzer and less responsibility in coverage (at least in the interim).

Kiko Alonso is probably in his final year in Miami. This position group will be an intriguing one at season’s end. Miami could opt to go into another year relying entirely on McMillan or make a move to upgrade the position.

The depth has to get a whole lot better than it has been.

Cornerback –

Xavien Howard figures to cash in very soon, and he’s earned every penny. Bobby McCain is showing that he belongs back inside in the slot and the disappearance of Cordrea Tankersley has sent a ripple-effect down this roster.

Miami would be wise to see what it has in Tankersley, but also rookie Cornell Armstrong, the rest of the way in 2018.

Minkah Fitzpatrick has been terrific in the nickel, but if his permanent residence is at safety, that move should come sooner rather than later.

Safety –

This plan was destined to fail from the start. Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald play the same position, yet are both on the field every play. Jones has earned that right – he’s a pro-bowl player. McDonald, on the other hand, has been an utter failure of a signing – he figures to exit this off-season.

Working Fitzpatrick into the safety position (base downs) would be a positive step in the right direction. This group could see considerable turnover this off-season, maybe even today with the deadline approaching.

Specialists – 

Jason Sanders has been a stabilizing change at the place kicker position, but Matt Haack has been unreliable in the punting game. John Denney has been injured most of the season, and made a few poor snaps as a result.

This trio, for all intents and purposes, could be left alone.

Self-Scouting

Perhaps in need of the most thorough self-scouting and inventory tracking is the coaching staff. The continued use of McDonald over Fitzpatrick, Spence over Taylor and the general construction of this defense, Matt Burke is at the head of the chopping block table.

The Dolphins have failed to unveil a dime package and brought in too many similar players to execute different jobs. The wide-9 front has been the primary point of contention for many fan complaints, and the lack of personnel to properly execute the scheme is rather discouraging.

On offense, the slow starts are more than a trend under Adam Gase, they are universal law – just as the poor road performances are.

The Dolphins have to find a way to fix this issue not just in 2018, but going forward in 2019 as well.

Trade Deadline

This is a touchy subject for a 4-4 football team. Some want to pursue a championship this season regardless of the vast holes on the roster, others want to punt and lose the rest of the games.

The ideal answer, as it usually does, lies somewhere in between. Miami has some competition on the schedule that has given the team more than it can handle in recent years (good quarterbacks on the road (Rodgers, Luck, Cousins)).

With that in mind, in association with the poor showings against quality teams, it’s my opinion that Miami should consider its ceiling for the 2018 season. What is the best case scenario for this team? Tannehill returns, the defense picks it back up, they win 10 games and maybe a playoff victory?

Then what? A trip to Arrowhead of Gillett Stadium? Don’t get me wrong, that’s a GOOD season, one many teams would be proud of. But if that’s your end-goal, things have gone seriously awry.

This opens up the possibility for some long-time stalwarts to be considered for trade:

Cam Wake
Reshad Jones

If Miami can get out of those deals, recoup draft capital and get an eight-game look at Minkah Fitzpatrick as the free safety, and Charles Harris as a starting end, that would be an excellent first step in the shift of this franchise.

Both of those players could bring back day-two draft picks.

Then there’s Devante Parker. Miami has already declared that they want to retain Parker’s rights as he approaches his fifth-year, option season. With Stills banged up and Wilson out for the year, Parker’s position on the roster could be out of necessity.

If that’s the case, then the Dolphins need to use this time to make a decision for 2019. If Parker shows the desire to earn that $9 million figure in 2019, that would mean he played at a high level for more than half a season (something he’s never done).

Because of that parenthetical, I would parlay Parker for a draft pick. The negotiation begins at a third round pick, but Miami should take any compensation they get for Parker.

Lastly, a pair of players that aren’t going anywhere, but could garner some discussion. Frank Gore and Ja’Wuan James are the two names that might enter the fray. James could help a contender and, as he heads into free agency, might provide Miami with its greatest return (a lot of teams need offensive line help).

Foundations of the Franchise –

Picking at the top of the draft is no sure bet to return to prominence, or even relevance, in the NFL. The Cleveland Browns earned high-draft-pick-after-high-draft-pick and still couldn’t manage multiple wins in back-to-back seasons.

Now, in the midst of the Hue Jackson firing, the Browns are suddenly a destination job because of the core building blocks on the roster.

For Miami, the story isn’t all that different. Outside of quarterback, Miami is well-stocked in some key areas.

Sep 23, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard (25) intercepts a pass intended for Oakland Raiders wide receiver Martavis Bryant (12) in the end zone in the quarter at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins defeated the Raiders 28-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Xavien Howard – There are maybe a handful of better man-cover corners in the league. Howard is going to get paid in the near future and he could be Miami’s Richard Sherman/Xavier Rhodes/Jalen Ramsey etc.

Minkah Fitzpatrick Even just eight games into his career, he’s shown the bite that he’ll be a mainstay on the AFC pro-bowl roster for years to come.

Vincent Taylor – This might be premature to some, but Taylor is an elite run-stuffer with an arsenal of moves good enough to make him an occasional pocket collapser.

Albert Wilson – There’s no greater compliment to a player than labeling him as a guy that can “make a play caller right.” If the play call was lacking, the player can bail the coach out and move the sticks or take it all the way home. Wilson is an electrifying play maker who was just getting started before an injury cut his season short.

Laremy Tunsil – He might be the best left tackle in football by the time the season is done. Shutting out Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack in the passing game, and creating huge lanes in the running game, Tunsil has realized his elite potential.

Kenyan Drake – This one likely draws the ire of the fan base, but I attribute his lack of production more to misuse than anything else. He’s gotten behind defenses, made the big run and has proven that he’s as good as anyone in pass protection. Free Kenyan Drake.

Building Blocks –

Jesse Davis – Davis has the requisite length and athleticism to perform regardless of the scheme. He needs more refinement in a phone booth against squatty bodies like Geno Atkins, but he has held up against all competition deemed to be not quite “elite.”

Kenny Stills – Instability at quarterback has impacted Stills’ production, but he’s a crucial piece to the offense for his speed and selflessness. Nobody on this team runs more clear-out routes, with as much dedication, as Kenny Stills.

Jakeem Grant – He could likely wind up in the foundation portion by the time the season is over. Like Drake, Grant needs more work. In the interim, he’s a big play threat and one of the best specialist in the league.

Davon Godchaux – His ability to anchor against doubles and create opportunities for the linebackers is such a crucial piece to early-down defense.

Jerome Baker – Ideally, Baker becomes a full-time player that can produce in all three phases of the game. Currently, he’s a plus sub-package player with keen instinct for gaps, blitzing responsibilities, and coverage to the flats.

Bobby McCain – The perimeter corner experiment has gone poorly post-injury as the lack of long-speed has been exposed. Getting McCain back in the slot is best for him and this team.

We can debate the current standing of some of the veterans on the roster. Reshad Jones is absolutely a foundation piece, but for how much longer? Those shoulder issues aren’t going away any time soon and that contract is not ideal.

Cam Wake can play as long he likes for my money, but the Dolphins can probably parlay him for the best return right now – and that might be doing right by the player.

This team isn’t years away, evidence by the Rams under Sean McVay. Turnarounds can happen in one off-season and, while Miami has some work to do to get there, it’s not untenable.

The 2019 off-season might not be where Miami finds its answer at quarterback, but the roster stands to improve at a few spots.

It’s about time the Dolphins start showing some foresight and self-scouting prowess.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Guide – Defensive Line (Interior)

Travis Wingfield

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Over the next two weeks, Locked On Dolphins will bring you your one-stop shop for all things Miami Dolphins 2019 training camp

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Defensive Interior
Defensive End – 7/18
Linebackers – 7/19
Cornerbacks – 7/22
Safeties – 7/23
Specialists – 7/24

Game-By-Game Predictions Part 1 – 7/24 (Part 2 coming in September)

Prologue:

For the majority of the Ryan Tannehill era, the Dolphins entered training camp as dark horse candidates to seize a wildcard playoff berth. Things have changed for the worse in 2019, but the step backward comes with the hopes of constructing a perennial AFC East contender capable of winning games in January.

That’s the big-picture snapshot of the Miami Dolphins rebuild. In the interim, however, establishing the core principles of the Brian Flores program, as well as developing young talent, both capture the forefront of this year’s training camp objectives.

Over the next two weeks, we will get you familiar with each player on the roster. With biographies, quick-hitter scouting notes, and a prediction on the player’s ultimate role on the 2019 Dolphins, this serves as your guide for Miami’s summer practice session.

Defensive Line (Interior)

Overview:

The entire Dolphins operation is under construction. No unit will see greater transformation than the defensive front seven, particularly the roles of the defensive line. The Patriots (Brian Flores) and Packers (Patrick Graham) operate two of the most advanced, modern-day style of stop-units predicated on a flurry of fronts, techniques, and varying roles for versatile players.

So as we look at the defensive front, it’s important to understand the classification of each player, as well as their respective position group. Interior defensive lineman traditionally refers to the tackles, but this position is being expanded to account for all non-two-point players — the larger fellas that do the dirty work.

We’re talking about nose tackles, five-techniques, and everything in-between.

This group is led by yet another coach with a polished resume. Between the Jaguars recent front-line resurgence, coupled with a six-year stint at Clemson, Marion Hobby has been in charge of the best-of-the-best at the professional and college levels.

Adapting from a wide-nine, one-gap, attacking style of aggressive rushing, Miami will veer towards a two-gap, read-and-react style predicated on intelligence and heavy hands. The Dolphins have paid out a lot of money for little production at spot in recent years. And without wholesale changes to the personnel, 2019 could serve as an extended audition in year-one of the rebuild.

Christian Wilkins – Rookie
Jersey: 97
College: Clemson
Opening Day Age: 23.7
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $15.4M total, $15.4M guaranteed

Wilkins’ Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

There isn’t a whole lot Christian Wilkins hasn’t accomplished in his young life. Before he’s of legal age to rent a vehicle, Wilkins has won two national championships, been named a unanimous, first-team All-American, and graduated with two degrees from Clemson.

Wilkins is a disruptive force inside with unique burst and wiggle. He has the aforementioned versatility (capable of playing every position from 5-tech to nose) that should keep him on the field more than any player at his position.

With rare athleticism, agility and general football instincts, Wilkins’ skillset is not limited to defensive line. We will probably see him on offense in goal-line packages and on the field goal block unit.

2019 Projected Role: Starting Defense (multiple techniques), 75% snap-taker

Davon Godchaux – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 56
College: LSU
Opening Day Age: 24.8
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.4M total, $0 guaranteed

Godchaux’s Story by Locked On Dolphins

One of Miami’s most consistent contributors of the last two years, Godchaux doesn’t score enough praise. He’s rarely knocked back at the point of attack, stands his ground against double teams, and started showing progress as a pass rusher late last season.

The scheme change could benefit Godchaux with his strong punch and low pad level. He’s likely to see most of his reps up over the nose, but he can slide out to the 2i and 3-tech spots seamlessly.

2019 Projected Role: Starting Nose, 60% snap-taker

Vincent Taylor – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 96
College: Oklahoma State
Opening Day Age: 25.7
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1,5M total, $0 guaranteed

Taylor’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

A clean bill of health is the only thing standing between Vincent Taylor and league-wide recognition. His run-stuffing numbers — efficiency, not volume — are elite, and his pass rush arsenal developed last season to boot. Taylor, frustratingly, heeded playing time to inferior producers last season, but 2019 should offer a fresh opportunity.

Taylor’s best position is at the 3-tech, but he’s not limited to that role. He can win with quickness, power, and a relentless motor. Conditioning and consistency are the next steps for Taylor to take in his young career.

2019 Projected Role: Starting 3-tech, 50% snap-taker

Tank Carradine – 5 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 95
College: Florida State
Opening Day Age: 29.6
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $720K total, $0 guaranteed

Carradine’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

The first of Miami’s low-risk, potential high-reward signings this offseason, Carradine comes to Miami as damaged goods. The former second-round pick missed 23 games the last two years to injury, and has never stayed healthy from wire-to-wire in his NFL career.

Carradine has the long arms, heavy hands, and explosive metrics that this staff prefers for the position. He’s solid at the point of the attack, he’s effective setting the edge, and he can win one-on-one matchups as an edge rusher. Anything he gives the Dolphins, however, should be considered a bonus.

2019 Projected Role: Rotational 5, 7-tech, 30% snap-taker

Jonathan Woodard – 1 year of service (2nd in MIA)
Jersey: 76
College: Central Arkansas
Opening Day Age: 26.0
Contract Details: 1 years remaining (ERFA), $645K total, $0 guaranteed

Woodard impressed in limited action last season. With a sack, two tackles-for-loss, and 10 total tackles in six games, Woodard often found work. His season ended prematurely due to injury, and he has a terrific shot to make his first opening day roster of his career.

The numbers game catches Woodard here, however. With so many bodies added at the position, one is left to wonder if the team wants to move in a different direction. His pre-draft scouting report questioned his awareness and feel for the position — traits that won’t fly with the new staff.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Akeem Spence – 6 years of service (2nd in MIA)
Jersey: 93
College: Illinois
Opening Day Age: 27.8
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $3.2M total, $3.2M guaranteed

Spence had his moments in his first year with the Dolphins, but a lot of Miami’s run-game issues manifested when the opposition worked towards Spence. He’s a one-gap style of tackle that wants to win with quickness and react after he has done so.

This is a difficult proclamation with the entirety of Spence’s contract coming to him regardless, but two things paired together spell the end of his time in Miami: lack of scheme fit and the surprise emergence of lesser-known players in camp and preseason.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Adolphus Washington – 3 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 53
College: Ohio State
Opening Day Age: 24.8
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $720K total, $0 guaranteed

Washington’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

A Late-May signing, Washington was the latest to join the Dolphins roster. Another player that relies on quickness and initial burst, Washington has a little more by-way of counter moves than the guys he’s competing against for work.

His run defense could get him in trouble. He’s often too high off the snap, and he’s a tad light in the lower-half to properly execute a two-gap style of defense. He figures into the lineup as a sub-package interior pass rusher.

2019 Projected Role: Rotational 3, 4i, 5-tech, 15% snap-taker

Jamiyus Pittman – 1 year of service (2nd in MIA)
Jersey: 65
College: UCF
Opening Day Age: 24.9
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.2M total, $0 guaranteed

A late-season call-up, Pittman played 45 snaps as a UDFA last year. His draft stock plummeted after missing the East-West Shrine Game with an illness, yet he has persevered. A bit undersized, Pittman wins with surprising strength, change-of-direction, and effort.

Pittman is regularly lauded for his hard work; that type of determination will keep him around whether it’s on the opening day roster or the practice squad.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad

Joey Mbu – 4 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 94
College: Houston
Opening Day Age: 26.5
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.4M total, $0 guaranteed

For a team lacking a tried and true nose tackle, the 330-pound Joey Mbu could be the prescription for the problem. He’s a power player that uses his hands as weapons. Those active hands help keep Mbu clean as he searches for work down the line.

According to an anonymous AFC defensive line coach from his NFL.com draft page, Mbu was regularly praised for his leadership in college — the kind of player Flores wants on his team. Mbu was with the Packers last season with new Dolphins Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham.

2019 Projected Role: Rotational Nose, 20% snap-taker

Dewayne Hendrix – Rookie
Jersey: 73
College: Pittsburgh
Opening Day Age: 24.7
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

Hendrix has the size (270 pounds) to play a base 5-tech in the new defense, but his lack of bulk and may require a year of work. He’s a natural pass rusher, but struggles to fight off blocks in the running game. Hendrix is a practice squad candidate.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Jonathan Ledbetter – Rookie
Jersey: 98
College: Georgia
Opening Day Age: 22.0
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

Surprisingly undrafted, Ledbetter was among Miami’s first UDFA signings. With 34.5-inch arms, standing 6-4 at 280 pounds, Ledbetter plays with a sturdy anchor and high motor (sensing a theme here?) He’s a natural read-and-react type with gap integrity and astute contact balance.

His versatility and scheme fit puts Ledbetter among the top potential UDFA’s to make the opening day roster.

2019 Projected Role: Rotational 5-tech, 4i-tech, 10<% snap-taker

Cory Thomas – Rookie
Jersey: 48
College: Mississippi State
Opening Day Age: 23.5
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

Thomas is a nice project player, but he needs to play with more functional strength to make it at the next level. It’s possible that he hasn’t fully matured physically, but his athleticism and natural bulk make for an intriguing camp body.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Durval Neto – Rookie
Jersey: 69
College: International Pathway
Opening Day Age: 26.2
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

Durval Neto is a fascinating player. He’s massive. His ankles are bigger than most human being’s thighs, and he pairs that girth with eye-popping athleticism — he can do a standing backflip.

Neto arrives via the international pathway program and that earns him roster exemption. Neto allows Miami to keep 11 players on the practice squad, so long as the big Brazilian is one of them.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad

2019 Dolphins Interior Defensive Line at a Glance:

Much like the offensive line, there are a lot of players that will cut out a heavy workload for this Dolphins staff. The top three are pretty well set in stone with the first-round pick Wilkins, and the proven players in Godchaux and Taylor. Beyond that, jobs are open for considerable rotational work.

Expect the Phins to divvy up playing time to every member on the active roster — specific roles, and the necessity for fresh legs, requires a solid eight-man rotation.

The shift to the new scheme could leave some casualties in the wake, and Miami’s new direction is rather evident by the player-types acquired this offseason. Taking some onus off the wide-nine edge defenders to rush the passer and set the edge in the ground game should make for a more effective run defense.

The two-gap style will require these players to play smart with sound eye discipline, and powerful lower bases to hold the point of attack. The job of these players is to free up the impressive, young linebackers on this roster. If this group can’t get that job done, there will be more turnover next offseason on the Dolphins defensive line.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Dan the Man – Why #13 is my all-time Favorite Dolphin

Kevin Dern

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Unfortunately for me the months of June, July and the beginning of August are busiest for me at my day job, so my writing this summer has been a bit sparse.  I was late to press time for Shawn Digity’s latest piece on our staff picks for Favorite Dolphin of all-time, but he went the extra mile and embedded a tweet from me and added a quick blurb.  Surprisingly, maybe only to Shawn and myself, but we were the only two members to pick Daniel Constantine Marino.  When I learned this my wheels immediately began turning and claimed dibs on writing an ode to Dan The Man.  Travis obliged, so here it is.

To begin explaining why Dan Marino is my favorite Dolphin of all-time I need to back up a bit.  I was born in 1986 and didn’t really start following football until the second grade in 1993.  Suffice to say I missed Dan’s magical 1984 MVP season.  I missed him on Monday Night defeating the ’85 Bears.  I missed a lot really.

The first Dolphins game I ever watched was the “Leon Lett” Game, the miraculous win in snowy Dallas that put the Dolphins to 9-2 on the year.  This was after Marino’s Achilles injury in Week 6 of 1993 in Cleveland, so I still did not know who he was.  I fell in love with the Dolphins hook, line and sinker a few weeks later.  While on winter break, the Dolphins play at San Diego on Monday Night Football.  My dad let me stay up and watch Monday Night Football for the first time.  Games back then started at 9pm, which was usually past my bedtime as a young lad.  I couldn’t stay up until halftime, but the colors, the thrill of staying up late, and knowing that Miami had already beaten the Cowboys, who I knew to be arguably the best team in the NFL – they won the Super Bowl in ’93 – started me on this lifetime affair with the team in aqua and coral.

Fast forward a few months to Labor Day Weekend 1994.  I was at my grandparent’s house and my grandpa and I sat down and watched the NFL Game, which happened to be Drew Bledsoe and the Patriots against Dan Marino and the Dolphins.  Miami won, 39-35.  Marino and Bledsoe combined to throw for 894 yards and 9 touchdowns that day, with 473 and 5 TDs belonging to #13 in the white jersey.  None bigger than the following play.  Bill Zimpfer and Jim Mandich called it better than the TV crew, so I’ll let them narrate this masterstroke:

4th & 5 and you throw a 36 yard TD to Irving Fryar? I’d inject that feeling into my veins if possible.  Mandich waxes poetic about it as Marino swaggers off the field.  It was amazing, and Dan Marino ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week.

 

My dad had a subscription to SI. After he read it, I snagged the cover and tacked it to my bedroom wall.  The cover stayed there until September 13th, 2001 when our family moved across town.  I lost the cover somewhere during the move.

For Christmas that year I received a Dan Marino Jersey and the book Marino:  On the Record.  I still
have the book to this day and must have flipped through it over a hundred times.  I was hooked.

Growing up in Cincinnati my brothers and I were subject to watching the Bengals during the worst of the “Bungles” years.  My brother Eric and I would wait for our dad to inevitably fall asleep during the first quarter of Bengals misery and we’d change the channel hoping to find a better game.  If we couldn’t I’d sit there and wait for the NFL on NBC updates.  Often there was Dan Marino throwing a touchdown pass.

One Sunday, it happened to be the “Fake Spike” play that Marino and back Bernie Kosar engineered to beat the hated Jets.  Mark Ingram caught that game-winner.  Miami opens against the Ravens and his son this year.  Small world.  That play made Dan Marino the ultimate quarterback to me…and I had no notion of what he’d done throughout his career up until the injury in 1993.

I remember the following year Marino leading a comeback drive against the Falcons to save the season, including this scramble and this game-winning TD to Irving Fryar on back-to-back plays.  The desire, the heart, the will to win Marino exhibited on this drive is what I’ll remember.

Since Dan retired after 1999, as a Dolfan, can you honestly say that you’ve felt comfortable with any of the quarterbacks Miami’s had under center to lead a 4th quarter comeback? I can’t.  Can you say that no matter what the deficit in a game was, did any of those quarterbacks make you feel like you were never out of the game the way Dan did? I can’t.

His ability to make the difficult throws stupidly possible was uncanny.  He made deep throws seem like 10 yards with the flick of the wrist.  Words don’t do these passes justice, so I won’t try.  Just watch.

***These are time stamped links***

Behind the Back!

Eventually all of our childhood heroes have to retire at some point.  But Dan the Man gave us one final 4th quarter comeback in this final victory, at the Kingdome in Seattle in the playoffs.

Dan Marino was the reason I wore #13 in baseball and basketball growing up.  Wearing his jersey on Halloween always netted me a King Size candy bar from my neighbor Mr. Bruns, a fellow Dolfan who introduced me to “Dolphin Digest”, when trick-or-treating.  No one else got one.  I wrote two papers about Dan Marino and his accomplishments in college.  Both were A’s.  Easy as a Dan Marino 25 yard laser in the breeze.

Upon his retirement, Dan Marino held the record for having the most NFL Records.  Greatness personified.

420 Touchdowns

61,361 Yards

4,967 Completions

8,358 Attempts

155 Career Wins

Think of the numbers Marino would have and the records he’d still hold if he played in this era.  The numbers would be eye-popping.

I remember watching Sunday Night Football when ESPN covered the Dolphins game against the Ravens and did a special halftime segment for Dan Marino’s jersey retirement.  Play these and listen to how many peers respect the Legendary Dan Marino.

One quarterback.  One team.  One city.  A lifetime of memories.  Dan Marino – my all-time favorite Miami Dolphins.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Guide – Offensive Line

Travis Wingfield

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Over the next two weeks, Locked On Dolphins will bring you your one-stop shop for all things Miami Dolphins 2019 training camp

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Defensive Interior
Defensive End – 7/18
Linebackers – 7/19
Cornerbacks – 7/22
Safeties – 7/23
Specialists – 7/24

Game-By-Game Predictions Part 1 – 7/24 (Part 2 coming in September)

Prologue:

For the majority of the Ryan Tannehill era, the Dolphins entered training camp as dark horse candidates to seize a wildcard playoff berth. Things have changed for the worse in 2019, but the step backward comes with the hopes of constructing a perennial AFC East contender capable of winning games in January.

That’s the big-picture snapshot of the Miami Dolphins rebuild. In the interim, however, establishing the core principles of the Brian Flores program, as well as developing young talent, both capture the forefront of this year’s training camp objectives.

Over the next two weeks, we will get you familiar with each player on the roster. With biographies, quick-hitter scouting notes, and a prediction on the player’s ultimate role on the 2019 Dolphins, this serves as your guide for Miami’s summer practice session.

Offensive Line

Overview:

One year removed from an embarrassing video leading to the dismissal of the Dolphins former offensive line coach, Miami makes its second change in as many years. Pat Flaherty departs from Jacksonville to lead-up the Dolphins offensive line room, but he’s not alone.

Miami solicited the help of Dave DeGuglielmo after the in-season firing of 2017 OL Coach (and Running Game Coordinator) Chris Forester. After the change, the Dolphins improved from the 21st-ranked pass blocking line to the 2nd-best in the NFL. Deguglielmo departed for Indianapolis in 2018 and turned around a historically awful Colts line. Indy improved from the 29th-ranked PBE (Pro Football Focus’ pass blocking efficiency) line to 10thlast year.

DeGuglielmo’s connection to the new Dolphins coaching staff led to his return. He spent two years with Flores in New England (2013-2014), and was a graduate assistant at Boston College — Flores alma mater. DeGuglielmo also has a connection to Flaherty from their time together with the Giants.

The room still belongs to Flaherty, however, and his resume is equally impressive. His first offensive line job came with the 2004 Giants where Flaherty learned Tom Coughlin’s style of smash mouth football. Flaherty brought that brand to Jacksonville when he joined Coughlin in 2017 en route to the NFL’s number-one rushing offense.

Flaherty’s work with the 2017 Jaguars line is more impressive considering the parts he had to work with. A second-round pick, two third-round picks, and a pair of UDFA’s is hardly a heavy investment into the positon. With the Dolphins, Flaherty gets a first-rounder, a third-rounder, a fifth-rounder, and two UDFA’s.

We start today’s guide with that first-round pick, perhaps the NFL’s most dominant Left Tackle, Laremy Tunsil.

Laremy Tunsil – 3 years of service (4th in MIA)
Jersey: 78
College: Ole Miss
Opening Day Age: 25.0
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $12.5M total, $0 guaranteed

Tunsil’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

After blanking Khalil Mack and Jadeveon Clowney in a three-week span, Tunsil etched his name among the best linemen in the game. He’s technically sound with the best feet at the position. He’s often left alone on an island against the game’s best, and wins with an effective kick-slide, initial punch, leverage, and a sturdy anchor.

Tunsil is no slouch in the ground game either. He can initiate contact and dictate the direction of his man with ease. He’s adept at combination blocks and more than capable of getting into space as the lead.

Tunsil allowed one sack in 2018 and has a case for the best player at his position. The one area he could stand to improve is in the penalty department — he has committed 21 fouls in the last two years.

(Second video)

2019 Projected Role: Starting Left Tackle

Michael Deiter – Rookie
Jersey: 63
College: Wisconsin
Opening Day Age: 23.0
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $3.8M total, $1M guaranteed

Deiter’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Expectations are high for Deiter. With a 53-game collegiate start-streak that spanned three positions (LT, LG, C), Deiter’s durability, toughness and competitiveness attracted Miami to the Wisconsin product. Deiter moonlights as a hockey player and has the feet and athleticism to prove it.

Deiter’s experience shows in the way he executes his combination blocks and his penchant for recognizing games from the defensive line. He figures to begin the year at left guard but some of his best college tape came from the center position, and with Kilgore’s injury history, that move feels imminent.

2019 Projected Role: Starting Left Guard

Daniel Kilgore – 8 years of service (2nd in MIA)
Jersey: 67
College: Appalachian State
Opening Day Age: 31.7
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $6.1M total, $0 guaranteed

Kilgore’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

The eldest member of the offensive line, Kilgore is a surprise holdover from the previous regime. A torn triceps muscle ended Kilgore’s debut Dolphins season after 4 games, but those four games were worrisome in their own right.

Kilgore needs to show better strength at the point of attack to sustain his position as the starting anchor on the middle of the Dolphins line.

2019 Projected Role: Starting Center

Chris Reed – 3 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 64
College: Minnesota St.
Opening Day Age: 27.1
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $3M total, $500K guaranteed

Reed’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

The unheralded signing of the offseason, Reed has a chance to buck his label as a career backup. In spot duty for the Jags (under Coach Flaherty) Reed showed a knack for cohesive pass protection and the occasional push in the ground game.

Reed can play either guard spot and, at worst, serve as Miami’s swing interior lineman. Based on his tape (link above), Reed might be the team’s second best player at the position.

2019 Projected Role: Starting Right Guard

Jesse Davis – 3 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 77
College: Idaho
Opening Day Age: 28.0
Contract Details: 1 year remaining (RFA), $645K total, $0 guaranteed

Davis’ Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Despite earning the distinction of only lineman to play all 16 games in 2018 for Miami, last year was a struggle for Davis. After bouncing around the line in 2017, David settled into his permanent residence at right guard, but struggled in pass protection. Prone to over-setting, Davis can get beat inside with a stab and dip or the club and swim move.

Davis’ limited work at right tackle was impressive in 2017 and gives the Dolphins more options to pull the backside of the formation. Davis competes against Jordan Mills and the guard combination of Reed and Deiter — he should win a starting job somewhere.

2019 Projected Role: Starting Right Tackle

Jordan Mills – 6 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 79
College: Louisiana Tech
Opening Day Age: 28.7
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $3M total, $0 guaranteed

Mills’ Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

The swing tackle position is vital in today’s NFL — especially in Miami where the tackle tandem has missed a combined 11 games the last two seasons. Mills will compete for a starting job, and his durability is definitely something that attracted Miami to his services, but his performance leaves much to be desired.

Mills is a plodder that can be repeatedly victimized by speed-rushers. When Mills latches onto his man, the rep is usually over, it’s just a battle to get to that point; there isn’t a lot of pop in the ground game either.

Mills has played over 3,000 snaps going back three seasons, all at right tackle.

2019 Projected Role: Swing Tackle

Zach Sterup – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 74
College: Nebraska
Opening Day Age: 27.4
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed

The film has not been kind to Sterup the last two seasons. He allowed seven pressures (including four sacks) on just 58 pass blocking snaps, and in 2017 Sterup surrendered seven more pressures (albeit all seven hurries) on 53 reps.

Some natural talent, bend, and ideal size exist for Sterup, he is just yet to put it together and time may be running out.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Tony Adams – 1 year of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 78
College: North Carolina State
Opening Day Age: 20.7
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed

Falling into the categories of required traits sought out by the Dolphins this offseason, Adams combines durability (a product of toughness) and size into a road-grading style. His initial punch is devastating, and when he’s properly aligned in his technique, he puts together teaching tape.

The issue is the consistency in that technique and the slow feet. Adams is a people-mover, not someone who will impress in the wave drill (tests for change of direction).

Adams clearly has fans in the building. Undrafted, Adams signed with the Jaguars (Pat Flaherty), but failed a physical and had his offer revoked. He then re-signed with the team, but was cut after training camp and eventually wound up with New England in December.

2019 Projected Role: Swing Interior Lineman

Isaiah Prince – Rookie
Jersey: 72
College: Ohio State
Opening Day Age: 22.1
Contract Details: 4 years remaining, $2.7M total, $150K guaranteed

Prince’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

The Dolphins wanted to get mean on the offensive line and that trend continued in the sixth-round of April’s draft. Prince’s college career was one of peaks and valleys. On one series he’d appear undraftable, then Prince would follow it up with a punishing block to spring the Buckeye’s deadly ground game.

He is a work-in-progress and the Dolphins will have to hope he survives the practice squad in the interim. With Tunsil, Davis, and Mills on-board, there’s not enough room for another tackle on the active roster.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad

Michael Dunn – Rookie
Jersey: 70
College: Maryland
Opening Day Age: 25.0
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed

One of seven Dolphins signings from the defunct AAF, Michael Dunn was a promising prospect at Maryland. In three years as a starter Dunn surrendered only 43 pressures on 1,151 pass blocking reps (3.7% pressures allowed rate).

At 6-5, 320 pounds, Dunn uses his wide frame and effective initial kick slide to wall off edge rushers. With a great camp, he could force the Dolphins hand and win a roster spot over potentially complacent veterans.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Jaryd Jones-Smith – Rookie
Jersey: 71
College: Pittsburgh
Opening Day Age: 24.0
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed

The second of two former AAF linemen on the Dolphins roster, Jones-Smith is built like a tackle, but plays guard. Jones-Smith won the Pterodactyl Award — awarded to the player with the longest wingspan — at the 2018 NFL Combine. His 88.5-inch measurement matches that of basketball’s Dwight Howard.

Jones-Smith gets caught in the numbers game, but has a shot to stick to the Miami practice squad.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Kyle Fuller – 2 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 61
College: Baylor
Opening Day Age: 25.5
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed

A seventh-round pick in 2017, Fuller played in nine games as a rookie with the Houston Texans. He didn’t make the team in 2018, but was signed to the practice squad before eventually winding up on Washington’s practice squad to finish the season.

Fuller played a clean 26 snaps in pass protection (no pressures allowed) but never received a favorable run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Shaq Calhoun – Rookie
Jersey: 62
College: Mississippi State
Opening Day Age: 23.4
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

A hot pick to make the opening day roster, Calhoun sliding all the way out of this year’s draft was a surprise. His birth name is Deion, but he goes by Shaq because of his size and basketball skill.

Calhoun is knocked by scouts for stiff, upright movement and a lack of instinctual awareness. Like the rest of Miami’s newly acquired linemen, though, Calhoun is built like an oak tree and plays with a high motor and nasty mean-streak.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad

Ryan Anderson – Rookie
Jersey: 60
College: Wake Forest
Opening Day Age: 23.4
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

With 42 consecutive starts to close out his colligate career, Anderson offers Miami the versatility the team covets. He started 16 games at tackle, 25 at center, and one at guard.

The Draft Network lauds Anderson for his length and technique. That, and a connection with Coach Flaherty, earns Anderson a surprise spot on the Dolphins opening day roster.

2019 Projected Role: Backup Interior Lineman

Aaron Monteiro – Rookie
Jersey: 66
College: Boston College
Opening Day Age: 22.0
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

Coming from Coach Flores’ alma mater is always a nice feather in the cap, but its Monteiro’s style that earned him a job with the Dolphins for the summer. Meeting with the Patriots, Ravens and Jaguars after his pro day, there’s an indication into which blocking schemes are best suited for Monteiro.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

2019 Dolphins Offensive Line at a Glance:

This position group is a complete teardown of the previous, unsatisfactory protection units trotted out by the Dolphins. It could be something of a learning year with new techniques and a bevy of new players that offer a stark contrast in traits to the previous regime.

Miami wanted to get bigger, stronger, and tougher at the position. Evident by the offseason acquisitions, the Dolphins place a lot of value on durability and versatility, and that’s exactly what the team acquired in these lesser-known signings.

If Flaherty and DeGuglielmo can cultivate one quality starter alongside Tunsil, it’ll be a success. If the pair can uncover two hidden gems, then Miami will have hit the lottery at a position that has been a thorn for the better part of a decade.

@WingfieldNFL

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