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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

Chris Grier Updates Status of Miami Dolphins

Jason Hrina

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MiamiDolphins.com

Majority of the NFL General Managers met in Arizona for the NFL Meetings earlier this morning, and after some closed-door discussions, were available to the media.

While Chris Grier spoke candidly and somewhat transparently about the Miami Dolphins, it left us both relieved but slightly perplex.

As we’ll highlight below, Grier spoke of failed expectations and nonexistent success during his tenure with the team, specifically during the Ryan Tannehill era.

His demeanor and approach seems that of a remorseful man who has learned from his mistakes, but it still makes us wonder what Grier was really thinking or doing all of these years. Again, we’re convinced he didn’t have final say throughout his career, but was he just unable to create a convincing enough argument to counter Mike Tannenbaum or Adam Gase‘s desires? Did they not respect him enough? And if so, why?

A lot of this may just be our skepticism after watching such futility over the past 15+ years, but Grier’s comments still provide a shroud of mystery – even if what he’s trying to say is clear as day:

On Ryan Tannehill:

When asked to describe Tannehill’s 7-year career in Miami: “Inconsistent”

Grier was pressed further on how the organization came to a determination that they needed to move on from the Tannehill era and he was confident in his response; sticking with the ol’ company line of how he won’t “reveal” who determined what. But what stood out to me most was when the reporter mentioned that ‘(Grier) had a determination before he met with the organization (Brian FloresChad O’Shea, Jerry Schuplinski) but didn’t want to reveal what the determination was’.

Is it fair to say that Grier believed Tannehill was a worthy quarterback, as he stuck with Tannehill through 2016, again in 2017 when his knee was volatile and then again in 2018 when he was two knee surgeries removed and 7 years into his NFL career? Or do we blame Tannenbaum and Gase for these evaluations?

Grier went on to compliment Tannehill’s toughness, saying “he gave his heart and soul” to this team, but would then go on to admit that the team may have made a mistake in not drafting a quarterback to compete with Tannehill. Isn’t it Grier’s job to identify this talent and assist Tannebaum in building the roster?

When asked if he believed he made a mistake keeping Tannehill as the Dolphins quarterback for 7 years, he simply replied: “No.”

On the Roster:

What is Grier’s #1 roster concern: “Franchise quarterback.”

Outside of the obvious choice of a franchise quarterback? “What we’ve talked about from Day 1…the building blocks…the offensive and defensive line. Losing Ja’Wuan (James) was a big blow…creates another piece you need to fill…..but I would say the offensive and defensive line right now; building for the future.”

With the team’s sights set on 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Miami trade down in the 2019 draft to try and acquire more draft picks to utilize on the trenches.

On the Tight Ends:

Not sure if someone is hearing the echos outside of Davie, but seems this staff is about to spend the offseason pumping up Miami’s tight ends. Previously, DeVante Parker received the annual award for “breakout player of the year” (only to never breakout), so we’ll see what this means for Mike Gesicki and company:

On “Tanking”:

“There’s no tanking”

On Ryan Fitzpatrick:

Chris Grier sees Ryan Fitzpatrick as “a bridge to a new quarterback (in 2019 or 2020)”. While also using Fitzpatrick as an example as to why Miami isn’t tanking.

This is more ‘general manager speak’ from Grier, who can’t sell a fanbase and lockerroom on openly losing – between integrity, sales and keeping his job, Grier has to maintain that Miami is “trying” in 2019. As we all know, Ryan Fitzpatrick gives off that illusion maybe a little too well, as Miami is vying for the #1 draft pick in 2020, not another year filled with 6 wins.

Seems Grier shares a similar sentiment about Fitzpatrick’s futility, as this comment was probably one of the most eye-opening (and, frankly, insulting) of the day:

On the NFL Draft:

Does Grier see himself drafting a QB in 2019 or 2020?

“(we are) looking into quarterback options in 2019 and in 2020.” And that “drafting a QB in both 2019 and 2020 is (also possible).”

On Xavien Howard:

Grier mentions that he has had “good talks with (Xavien Howard‘s) agent”, though a deal is still not close.

This seems like a public relations move on behalf of Grier in an attempt to defuse any negativity from the fanbase. He must understand that Howard is a budding star on a team devoid of stars this century – allowing Howard to walk will create immediate backlash; there’s no sense perpetuating that feeling now by acting like he’s above the contract talk.

On Robert Quinn:

Essentially, talks seem to remain fluid with multiple teams (the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints have been the two teams we’ve heard about publicly). Grier made it seem like there may be additional suitors, but you have to wonder how much of that is a ploy to drive up Robert Quinn‘s price.

Grier also mentions that if the team “has to keep him, we will”, but I believe that’s the general manager side of him talking in hopes of maintaining leverage in any trade. A team rebuilding for 2020 isn’t looking to absorb a ~$11m cap hit in 2019.

Unfortunately for us, this guy wasn’t one of those GMs available:

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Miami’s Primary Objective – The Secondary

Travis Wingfield

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Supplementing a strength vs. thinly spreading resources – Miami attacks its most important position in the defensive backfield

The hallmark of a championship roster in the National Football League is comprised of two ingredients – a quality quarterback, and a universally recognizable identity.

January’s final four offers the latest data point. Four top-shelf quarterbacks and four teams defined by dominant factions elsewhere on the 53-man roster. Whether it was Kansas City’s loaded play-making unit, New England’s swarming secondary, or the Saints and Rams relentless ground-game, each contender can point to one dependable, defining feature that carried these clubs to Lombardi’s doorstep.

The ultimate champion (New England Patriots) re-stocked the trophy case with its sixth Lombardi in 2018. The NFL’s anomaly for two decades is fueled by chameleon-like reinvention, while the other 31 compete amid a similar formula.

Four quarterbacks have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl dating back to the 2003 season. Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, and one fluke showing by Joe Flacco comprises the entirety of Lamar Hunt trophies for the past 16 years. Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Russell Wilson; the NFC is no stranger to star power at the game’s most important position.

So we can all agree – the quarterback is the main course of the Super Bowl meal. The next fillet mignon served without a side dish will be the first, however.

Seattle’s Legion of Boom was one yard away from back-to-back titles. Denver’s dominant 2015 Super Bowl team was spearheaded by a pass rush that unleashed Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, and Malik Jackson from three separate angles. The saviors of the ’72 perfect season (2007 Giants) slowed a record-setting offense with a fierce four-man rush.

This is the portion of the article where we introduce Brian Flores’ Miami Dolphins.

We know that 2019 isn’t about collecting wins for the ‘Phins – it’s about building a foundation for continued success. A departure from the old model of patching together a 10-win team every two presidential terms.

The first step to this process is excepting that quarterback isn’t arriving this year. With Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins likely out of reach, Miami can shift its focus to the side dish – the identifying feature.

While other portions of the roster are under-cooked, the defensive backfield is only in need of a pinch of seasoning.

Xavien Howard is set to cash in with a mega-extension that will pay the lockdown cornerback more money than any player at his position. Minkah Fitzpatrick hit the ground running from the first game of his rookie campaign.

Supplementing Howard and Fitzpatrick is not only the easy choice, it’s easily executable. The strength of this year’s draft class is the vast number of elite defensive line prospects. Miami, picking 13th, falls just outside the range to land one of the surefire, instant-impact, front-seven players.

The next best feature of the 2019 rookie class is the glut of defensive backs that figures to come off the board in the 20-60 range. Box safeties, center fielders, perimeter corners and slot specialists; the time is now for Miami to go from “pretty good secondary,” to the league’s new no-fly zone as early as 2020.

The Draft Network’s cumulative big board has 10 defensive backs in its 20-60 range with three DBs in the top-20. The veritable side-dish offering is comparable to options available on the menu at The Cheesecake Factory – choices, choices, choices.

Miami’s new scheme is going to be defensive back driven – just as Flores had it in New England. He learned this philosophy from Bill Belichick who shares the same principles with Nick Saban. Create a pass rush with clever blitzes, games, and gap integrity, and lockdown the backend of the defense with solid cover-corners on the outside, safeties that can matchup in coverage, and range in man-free calls.

Patrick Chung is defined as the Patriots strong safety. He played 396 reps in man-coverage acting as a pseudo-cornerback in 2018.

Devin McCourty is New England’s free safety. He played 204 snaps in coverage as a corner.

Duron Harmon, the third safety, is strictly a sub-package middle-of-the-field patrolman – 526 of his 694 snaps were as the deep safety.

The three safeties accounted, respectively, for 85%, 96%, and 61% of the New England’s total defensive snaps in 2018

In Miami, Fitzpatrick is perfectly suited for one of these roles – likely the one occupied by McCourty. Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald don’t cover well enough to (46th and 75th graded coverage safeties by Pro Football Focus in 2018) to properly execute this defense.

With both veterans commanding large pay days in the coming years, and generally miscast in the defense, it’s safe to assume their futures are elsewhere.

This leaves the Dolphins with Howard, Fitzpatrick, Bobby McCain, and a bevy of unproven young corners in this ultra-important position group.

Hardly a Da Vinci Code riddle, Miami needs its Chung, Harmon, and a suitable corner opposite Howard. In 2019, again, since wins aren’t the primary objective, we’ll allow Eric Rowe first crack at the job with Cordrea Tankersley, Cornell Armstrong, Torry McTyer and Jalen Davis to compete for the right to replace Rowe if and when he suffers another injury.

Even less complex, Miami’s desire to trade out of the 13th pick is well-documented. Recouping an additional second-round pick, and sliding back into the 20’s is not only a possibility, it’s a probability this April.

And, with that, we devise this plan:

The Patrick Chung Role:

Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State – The human missile plays the game at a different speed while somehow staying in full control as a tackler. His angles are exceptional, he can blitz off the edge, and he’s more than adept at coming down to cover in single-high safety packages.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Florida – Rangier than Abram, CGJ excelled in man-coverage in 2018. He fits either of the two roles (Chung and Harmon) but his matchup coverage skills make it tough to take him off the field. Patriots Beat Writers are raving about his fit in the New England scheme, proving his value for Miami as well.

Nasir Adderley, Delaware – Like CGJ, Adderley has range to play the middle of the field, but he’s a first-round pick and 85% snaps type of player. Suited for either of these two roles, Adderley played cornerback in college so his matchup skills are right in-line with what Miami needs.

The Duron Harmon Role:

Juan Thornhill, Virginia – Thornhill won the combine with jaw-dropping jumping and timed metrics. His tape would suggest that he’s not the best fit for cover-1 but his closing speed and testing metrics showcase his elite deep-coverage. He, like Adderley, played cornerback early in his college career.

Deionte Thompson, Alabama – Speed, range, and elite ball skills put Thompson in-play here, but he takes the cheese a little too often.

Peaking at New England’s top defensive snap-takers in 2018, the thinking is clear. Defensive backs make up the majority of the reps on defense meaning we need bodies, a lot of them, on the back end.

 

Position Player 2018 Snaps
CB Stephone Gilmore 1014
FS Devin McCourty 1004
LB Kyle Van Noy 946
SS Patrick Chung 887
CB Jason McCourty 834
LB Dont’a Hightower 774
DE Trey Flowers 732
SAF Duron Harmon 636

 

Five of the top eight snap takers came from the secondary. Miami will undoubtedly need to find its Van Noy and Flowers, but we’ll tackle that later.

Give me Jonathan Abram and Juan Thornhill in the first two rounds, an extension for Howard, and utilizing Minkah Fitzpatrick as the Swiss Army Knife, and let’s go.

It’s Miami’s best defensive position (two blue chip players (X and Minkah)). It’s one of the draft’s deepest positions as far as scheme fits and immediate impact players. If the Dolphins can execute this plan, then drop the quarterback into the fold in 2020 with carefully placed free agents, this rebuild doesn’t have to be a three-year process. With 11 picks in the 2020 class, and likely more coming, supplementing the trenches comes a year later.

Even in this practice, we still have second and third-round picks to address the lines. Rounding out the two-day 2019 mock draft in this scenario gives us something like this:

  1. (24) S Johnathan Abram – Mississippi State
  2. (35) DE Chase Winovich – Michigan
  3. (48) S Juan Thornhill – Virginia
  4. (79) OLB Justin Hollins – Oregon

This plan allows Miami to find out what it has with its young corners, defensive linemen, and interior offensive linemen en route to finding the quarterback in 2020. If Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage are as formidable as I think they’ll be, this sounds like a vessel primed to be captained by Georgia’s Jake Fromm.

A running game is said to be the quarterback’s best friend, but a defense that can consistently keep the opposition around 20 points per game alleviates a lot of pressure of your young signal caller.

Fromm, Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Love, whoever it is, asking the newly minted franchise quarterback to engineer three touchdown drives per game is the right recipe. It’s a recipe not just for immediate success, but sustained success.

Just as Stephen Ross wants it.

@WingfieldNFL

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Dolphins Quarterback Prospect Film Room: Dwayne Haskins

Travis Wingfield

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The entire industry of draft scouting is propped up by projection. Anybody can read a box score, point to a highlight reel, or regurgitate the words of any on-air analyst, but it’s the ability to identify traits, and room for growth within those traits, that makes for the best scouts.

Dwayne Haskins is the ultimate projection player – his one season as a starter at Ohio State suggests as much. Starting off the season with some less than impressive tape, Haskins turned it on during at the most crucial point of the Buckeyes season.

Cumulatively, Haskins’ stat sheet was other-worldly. One of three mega-impressive Heisman candidates (along with presumed 2019 first overall pick Kyler Murray, and overwhelming favorite to be the first pick in 2020, Tua Tagovailoa), Haskins rivalry game (Michigan)and post-season (Northwestern and Washington) numbers elevated him into that exclusive club back in December.

Haskins turns 22 a week following next month’s draft. His body composition tells an unfinished story. A simple glance at some remaining baby fat is quite the indicator that this young man hasn’t even fully developed. Haskins is a studious worker both in the classroom and in the weight room leaving plenty of meat on the bone for whichever coach gets his hands on this impressive quarterback.

The combine didn’t do any favors for Haskins’ stock. We’ll showcase his heavy feet in some clips momentarily, but his forty-yard dash was up there with the offensive linemen (5.07). Still, the ball jumps off his hand and that was the primary takeaway from his workouts both in Indianapolis and Columbus during his pro day.

Now the Head Coach at Ohio State, Ryan Day (Haskins’ Offensive Coordinator), has spoken at length about Haskins’ leadership. In this article written back in August, Day praises the growth Haskins showed going from backup to starter during the 2018 spring and summer process.

“His leadership had to step up and he’s done that,” Day said. “Throughout practice he’s gotten stronger, especially from the spring.”

Day made an appearance on the Move the Sticks podcast back on March 6 of this year. Asked about Day’s background as a quarterback and the challenges of getting young quarterbacks ready to play, Day responded with the following.

Mar 2, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins (QB05) throws a pass during the 2019 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Paraphrasing – “So much of Dwayne coming on this year was done leading up to the season. Understanding of protections and defensive structure, how to attack coverages and how the footwork times up with the progressions.”

A point of contention on the Locked On Dolphins podcast (via Brian Flores and Chris Grier themselves) has focused on the mental aptitude of the quarterback. Day continues to glow about Haskins jump in that department during the 2018 season when Bucky Brooks asked what it is that makes Dwayne such a special talent.

“His innate accuracy is among the best I’ve ever seen and I was around Matt Ryan at Boston College. The anticipation and touch is similar. He has a great feel for what’s going on in front of him. He’s really embraced the classroom and I thought he did a really good job with that, especially late in the season. He doesn’t get rattled and nothing is too big for him.”

Brooks continued the questioning with an inquiry about Haskins ability to raise to the level of franchise quarterback, the biggest stage for a quarterback.

“He’ll do great. It’s not [going to] happen overnight. Every day I think he’ll learn something because you never fail, you either win or you learn and he’s done well with that approach.”

The next question brought back the most intriguing answer – it was framed, “what’s the one thing that you absolutely love about [Haskins] and what NFL teams will love about him when they dig down deep and meet him?”

Day responded, “His overall spirit. He’s been raised the right way, his heart is in the right place, he cares about the people around him and he wants to be great. He will be ready for everything you throw at him, that’s the kind of kid he is.”

There is a connection that links Haskins to Miami. Ryan Day mentioned being on the Boston College staff with Matt Ryan in the interview with the MTS podcast. Day’s coaching path rerouted away from BC from 2005 to 2007, but Day was a graduate assistant in 2003 while Dolphins Current Head Coach, Brian Flores, was a played for the Golden Eagles.

So what about Haskins film? That’s why you click on this link, so let’s dive in.

Michigan State Game (More videos inside Twitter thread)

Northwestern (More videos inside Twitter thread)

Purdue (More videos inside Twitter thread)

Cumulative Takeaways:

Strengths – Advanced from processing standpoint. Generates good spin via quality mechanics and torque both stationary and on the move. Can alter his release point when off-platform to maintain accuracy. Innate ability to recognize coverage and the routes designed to attack that coverage. Trusts his eyes and will play-off the defensive leverage against man, and plays with anticipation against zone coverage. Big time arm that opens up the entire playbook and forces the defense to cover the entire field.

Weaknesses – Mobility and throwing against pressure are not up to speed. Compromised pockets often alter his mechanics which can lead to over-throws and turnovers. No change of direction skills, often gets caught in quicksand in the pocket. Limited ability to step up and away from the rush.

Final Word – The potential for a quality starter is in there. He will only grow and improve with the more football he sees. If the right team drafts him (terrific offensive line and innovative play caller) he can become a star. If he goes into a situation with poor protection, he won’t make it to his second contract.

The Dolphins definitely should NOT trade up to draft Haskins. If he’s there at 13, it’s certainly worth considering, but the situation in Miami is not currently suitable for the things Haskins struggles with.

@WingfieldNFL

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