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Dolphins Senior Bowl Watchlist

Travis Wingfield

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With 266 of the slated 267 games on the 2018 NFL schedule in the books, the focus of the league shifts to Mobile, Alabama. The site of the college football’s most prestigious all-star game since 1951, Mobile transforms from to an otherwise quiet city to a veritable who’s who of NFL decision-makers.

The term “all-star” is rather fraudulent in its intention. This week isn’t about festivities or acknowledgement; it’s the first step on a long path towards elevating young men’s football lives from amateur to professional.

Two-hour practice sessions, endless meetings and whiteboard testing, these young men are about to be ran through the grind of an NFL work week. With scouts, coaches, and executives from every team (even Brian Flores and his unofficial status with Miami), this week in Mobile is the precursor to the meat market that is the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Mandatory Credit: Mark Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The big question the casual observer has is, “what can I take away from this week?” The NFL Network airs practices from Tuesday through Thursday, and the game on Saturday. Additionally, plenty of credentialed media members will be covering the week (including plenty of our own at Locked On Podcasts), providing us with more resources than ever before.

Here on Locked On Dolphins, we will have a daily practice report that includes those that shined in the individual and team periods – but also a cumulative tracker for all of Miami’s meets and player interests.    

In prior off-season preview columns, we have highlighted Miami’s core areas of need for the 2019 season. Here, we will list the positions in order of need, and discuss the players Miami should keep a close eye on at said positions of need. Also, a brief tidbit on what you should look for this week when you turn on the NFLN and see guys running around in shells and shorts.

Quarterback

Unfortunately, the top two prospects at this crucial position are underclassmen (Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins). Last year’s Senior Bowl provided a close-up look to Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen (both top 10 picks). This rendition features a trio of potential first round picks and plenty intriguing of day-two or day-three options.

1.) Daniel Jones, Duke – 6’5” 220

Propped up as a potential top-10 pick, Jones is the classic case of being elevated due to the urgent need of his position. Jones’ arm is teetering on the line of NFL-worthy and popgun. He doesn’t drive the ball to the field and he struggles with touch, accuracy, and anticipation. When he does find power on his throws, it comes from a long wind-up and a clean base. Any trash at his feet or flashing colors in his face presents problems for the elongated set-up.

Jones isn’t capable of extending plays or beating pressure with his arms or legs. He will chew up some yards with long speed, but his lateral agility and quickness aren’t there (think of Ryan Tannehill). He doesn’t process particularly well and will set himself up for huge shots in the pocket.

Frankly, I’m not seeing what other scouts do. I think he’s more of a day-three project than a first round pick.

2.) Drew Lock, Missouri – 6’4” 225

Physical traits aplenty, Lock has the biggest arm in Mobile this week. Because of that, and the lack of real in-game simulations, I expect him to help himself the most. He can drive the football vertically and to the perimeter, but his accuracy comes and goes. He doesn’t always establish a firm platform and will try the adjusted arm-angle throws, but he doesn’t exactly have the same control in that area as the originator, Patrick Mahomes.

Lock struggled against superior defenses that brought pressure. The bigger the SEC opponent, the more Lock’s game shrunk. He was overmatched by the likes of Georgia and Alabama.

Though he plays with the desired confidence and swagger, his game isn’t there to match. He’s rumored to be a fringe first-round prospect, though rumblings about Denver targeting him with the 10th pick have picked up steam. In my world, he’s in play for Miami’s second-round pick.

3.) Will Grier, West Virginia – 6’2” 223

Playing in a wide-open scheme in Morgantown, Grier’s deficiencies were overshadowed by his gaudy production and clutch moments. While the latter shouldn’t be neglected (he has some stones in critical moments), the former dampers the scouting report.

Grier simply doesn’t have the requisite arm to complete all the throws required in an NFL offense. With tighter windows and quicker defenders, he’s bound to be exposed at the next level. It’ll be extremely important for Grier to impress in the meeting rooms, but also show some velocity with all the scouts there to see him in person.

He does have a penchant for anticipatory throwing and the skill set to go off-platform and off-script, but he rarely had to do it in West Virginia. He’s a touch and timing thrower that looks terrific with sound protection. Grier might get pushed up the draft board, but I wouldn’t consider him an option prior to the third round.

4.) Tyree Jackson, Buffalo – 6’7” 245

Eligible for as a graduate transfer to a power-five program, Jackson instead opted to test the NFL waters before his stock could climb. Jackson is a physical marvel with a big-time arm, impressive stature, and enough escapability to make him a threat at the next level.

His mechanics will waver on occasion and his release point’s inconsistency causes a lot of inaccurate throws. He has plenty to clean up before he’s ready to compete for playing time at the next level. Jackson is a day-three option for the Dolphins.

5.) Gardner Minshew, Washington State – 6’2” 220

Taking Mike Leach’s Cougs from a projected sixth-place Pac 12 finish, all the way to a win-and-in season-finale for the conference championship game, Minshew was THE reason.

His leadership, high-level processing, and gamer-mentality hid the shortcomings in his physical prowess. Like a lot of his comrades in Mobile, Minshew’s arm strength is right on the boarder of acceptable at this level.

He’s prone to the fist-clenching decision once he goes off-script, while the wide-open nature of Leach’s air raid doesn’t do the former East Carolina Pirate any favors.

Minshew figures to be a day-three project with his upside falling somewhere between low-level starter and high-quality backup.

Edge (Linebackers) –

This position is going to be defined differently for the 2019 Miami Dolphins than it had been in the previous three seasons. Scrapping the disastrous wide-9 scheme, the Dolphins figure to adopt the linebacker-rush heavy scheme of Brian Flores and the New England Patriots.

So, because of that distinction, we are going to lump outside backers in with pure pass-rushing defensive ends for this group. The heftier defensive ends will be included with the interior down-linemen position as Miami’s scheme calls for new prototypes.

1.) Jalen Jelks, Oregon – 6’5” 245

A tad wiry, Jelks played with his hand in the dirt at Oregon. His quickness showed up both in the run and pass game through a variety of avenues. He’s capable of winning immediately off the snap and converting that speed to power with a steady base. He has the length, fluidity and instincts to win individually but also play within the framework of the defense.

The fit with Miami comes from a possible conversion an on-ball line-of-scrimmage defender. His thin frame causes issues when doubled, but Miami can counter that weakness by protecting Jelks via the scheme.

2.) Germaine Pratt, North Carolina State – 6’3”, 245

Pratt’s speed and coverage skills are evident of his conversion from safety to interior linebacker. He will surely convert to the outside in his pro career with terrific range and instincts in the passing game.

Though he added weight to his frame jumping into the front-seven, Pratt can still get over-powered. If he wants to be a true edge linebacker in this scheme, he’ll have to get stronger at the point of attack. His work in both zone and man coverage could help Miami’s pass defense immensely.

3.) Bobby Okereke, Stanford – 6’3’’ 234

Miami has been getting exposed by backs and tight ends in the passing game for far too long. Okereke covers a ton of ground in zone, but can match-up in man coverage as well. He will clean up plays as a rusher and struggles defeating blocks en route to the quarterback.

Okereke could be a sub-package coverage dynamo at the next level.

4.) Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion – 6’3” 247

Presenting the first truly physically dominant player in this group, Ximines offers the strength to anchor and defend the run better than his position-mates listed in this column. He’s not going to line-up one-on-one with a back or a tight end and win, but he does have a variety of pass rush moves and enough run-stuffing ability to make him an intriguing prospect.

5.) Otara Alaka, Texas A&M – 6’2’’ 240

Best suited as a SAM linebacker, Alaka draws intrigue from Miami’s multiple linebacker packages. In Sunday’s AFCCG win, the Patriots often deployed four linebackers in the line-up using stronger, sturdier outside ‘backers to shut down the Chiefs rush lanes early in the series. He’s a sure tackler with a high motor, but he offers very little by way of rush of coverage prowess.

The omission you’re looking for is Montez Sweat. With his prowess coming with a hand in the dirt, and his slight frame, I don’t foresee him being on Miami’s radar. This position requires speed, bend, a variety of moves and change of direction. When rushing the passer, watch how they square their opponent and if they have the hands and counter moves to initiate and beat contact. Burst and get-off top the list, obviously.

When it comes to coverage, mirroring is vital. Squaring up the target to initiate the jam will dictate the entirety of the route. Watch how these guys stay in control and on balance when they initiate the contact as it allows them to explode and cut down separation created once the pass catcher sheds the contact.

Interior Offensive Line

This side of the ball will provide more of a challenge with the uncertainty of the offensive play-caller in Miami. Jim Caldwell is set to coach the quarterbacks, but I think it’s disingenuous to glean any idea from his time in Detroit or Indianapolis regarding what Miami will do up front.

For the Dolphins, a complete rebuild could be in the works at this spot. Miami desperately needs stabilization at center and Josh Sitton and Jesse Davis hardly inspire hope as starting guards.

1.) Michael Deiter, Wisconsin – 6’6” 310

Wisconsin breeds offensive linemen and Deiter is the next in line to cash in with a lofty draft spot come Late-April. Deiter has played all three positions at a high level. He has the mental aptitude to regularly recognize and pick up stunts and he moves exceptionally well for a man of his size.

Deiter could be a first round trade-back option if the Dolphins are serious about refortifying the offensive line.

2.) Chris Lindstrom, Boston College – 6’4” 310

A mauler better suited for gap/man power-schemes, Lindstrom is as consistent as they come. Always available and scheme diverse, Lindstrom will be a quick transition into the league as an early starter.

He’s technically sound with strong hands and the movement skills to get out in space.

3.) Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State – 6’3” 300

The theme at this position is the technical aptitude of these young men. Something of a lost art in the college game as teams focus more on pace than finishing, Bradbury is a breath of fresh air. The former tight end displays his fluid lower half, but didn’t sacrifice that movement when he added the requisite weight to kick inside.

4.) Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State – 6’4” 313

With athleticism to climb to the second level and operational functionality against games up front (stunts and twists (both have killed Miami recently)), Jenkins could be the answer to the black hole that is the center position in Miami.

If the Dolphins continue forward with a zone blocking scheme, Jenkins is right up there for interior options.

5.) Dru Samia, Oklahoma – 6’5” 303

Position-diverse, Samia played tackle his first year before kicking inside to guard for his final three in Norman, OK. The technical proficiency and athleticism required to play in the up-tempo scheme of the Sooners pops on tape each week.

His ability to pick up games and anchor against the rush throughout the week could really solidify Samia’s spot as a top interior line prospect.

This is a stellar crop of interior linemen. The colts rebranded their operation by doubling down on Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith in 2018 – that option is on the table for Miami in 2019.

When you watch these big boys this week, keep an eye on their pad level, waste bend, and ability to absorb contact and maintain balance. They have a tough time in the one-on-one drills designed to make rushers look good, but the initial stance and ability to strike the rusher between the shoulders is always a good sign.

Interior Defensive Line

This group includes more than just the beef on the inside for Miami. We’ve covered Trey Flowers’ importance in New England’s defense ad nauseam for the last two weeks. Size, two-gap quickness and technique versatility are Miami’s aims here at this position.

1.) Daylon Mack, Texas A&M – 6’1” 320

Nov 17, 2018; College Station, TX, USA; UAB Blazers quarterback Tyler Johnston III (17) is sacked by Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Daylon Mack (34) during the second quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

With a great squatty-body, Mack has the bubble and burst to dictate the point-of-attack inside. He’s deceptively quick off the ball which gives him even more value in this new scheme where the interior D-line will be asked to two-gap.

Mack, a five-star recruit out of high school, earned his way from the Shrine Game into Senior Bowl week. He’s not to be mistaken from an elite rush prospect on the interior, but Miami is severely lacking depth alongside Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor. Mack could play the nose, 2-tech, 2i and 3-tech in this defense.

2.) Isiah Buggs, Alabama – 6’4”, 290

More of a 5-tech in the new varied front scheme, Buggs relies on strong hands and a powerful base to help set and dent the edge in the run game. Playing under Nick Saban, Buggs is instinctive enough to recognize and defeat leverage. He’s a violent, rocked-up house of bricks that’s ready to play immediately.

The keys to watch for are similar to what we want to see from the offensive line. Can they consistently knock the man across from them backwards in both team and individual portions? Also, don’t be afraid to up-and-down their backsides. We need to see big ankles, calves and booties to properly gage their sheer power. When they get into their set-up and stance, do they bend at the knees, or does their waste go parallel? You do not want to see the latter.

Secondary

1.) Amani Oruwariye, Penn State – 6’1” 204 (Corner)

A lengthy, rangy corner with terrific ball skills makes Oruwariye an intriguing prospect to watch this week in Mobile. His ideal fit is in press coverage and in a zone scheme (two things Miami will do a lot of). His ball tracking and natural instincts allow him to make plays both in man, but also peering in from a cover-3 defense.

The rest of this group is lacking in a lot of the departmental traits Miami desires. The glut of this draft class’ prowess at the position comes from underclassmen.

2.) Nassir Adderley, Delaware – 5’11” 200 (Safety)

Miami should be active in their search for a third, rangy safety that can help patrol the back end in sub packages. With Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald filling similar roles, and Minkah Fitzpatrick as a quasi-slot corner/safety, there’s a need here.

Adderley has exceptional range playing the single-high position on the backend of Delaware’s defense. He’s physical with a desire to hit someone in the mouth and he excels in zone coverage.

The number one thing you want to see with these players is the hips. How well to the transition in-and-out of their pedal and how fast can they close on the football. The drills ran this week have a way of weeding out the stiff and unnatural players.

Of course, there are plenty of other players and positions to keep an eye on. We will have those daily reports on the podcast on the site.

Here are some other guys to keep an eye on this week.

RB – Karan Higdon
WR – Debo Samuel, David Sills V
TE – Drew Sample
OT – Andre Dillard

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Tua Yards Away, One Step Closer – Miami-Washington Week 6 Recap

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins 2-Point Conversion Fails, Team Falls to 0-5

It’s difficult to imagine a better game-script for the Dolphins fan that finds him/herself in the cumbersome position of rooting for better draft positioning. A chance to win on the game’s final play, a strong effort and overall improvement, but the ultimate prize remains unspoiled for a team in transition. For the first time this season, the box score didn’t tip heavily in the opposition’s favor.

 

Stat Dolphins Washington
Total Yards 271 311
Rushing 84 145
Passing 187 166
Penalties 5 (45 yards) 6 (56 yards)
3rd / 4thDown 5/16 (31.3%) 2/11 (18.2%)
Sacks For 0 5
TOP 32:39 27:21

 

The Dolphins were dead in the water under the direction of second-year quarterback Josh Rosen. His three quarters of work produced a pair of interception, five sacks and three points from the Dolphins offense.

Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The fired-up Fitzmagic passed for 132 fourth quarter yards en route to two Dolphin touchdown drives. The final play of the game — a failed two-point conversion dropped by Kenyan Drake — was the third bizarre play in critical situations during Miami’s ferocious surge.

A common play in today’s league — especially from Chad O’Shea’s New England influence — Drake short-motioned into the formation behind a pair of bunched receivers. The throw was a little bit off Drake’s back hip, but the back never secured the ball, ending the play before it had ever a chance.

On an earlier third down and nine, nine-year veteran Center Daniel Kilgore rolled a snap to Fitzpatrick that killed the drive. The possession prior, Fitzpatrick threw a hook-up route over the middle to Mike Gesicki, who had already been thrown to the ground. If any of those three plays is executed, Miami probably comes out of this game with a victory.

Though out-gained for the fifth-consecutive game, the Dolphins moved the chains 21 times to Washington’s 13 first downs. Miami also won the time-of-possession battle for the first time, and scored multiple touchdowns in a game for the first time.

There was enough energy and excitement to fulfil the quota for an admirable Dolphins effort, but the scoreboard not only keeps Miami in the driver’s seat for the first pick of the draft, it essentially gives the Dolphins a two-game buffer over Washington.

With strength of schedule serving as the only draft order tie-breaker, Washington’s likely greater S.O.S. means that if both teams finished with the same number of victories, the higher pick would go to Miami.

The only team left in Miami’s way is the 0-6 Cincinnati Bengals.

Let’s get to the individuals.

Quarterbacks

Last week, on The Locked On Dolphins Podcast, I referenced an article that featured quotes from prominent NFL Draft busts at the quarterback position. Joey Harrington and Brady Quinn discussed the difficult circumstances surrounding their respective insertions into the league. To summarize, they both feel that situations can ruin quarterbacks.

That feels prevalent in the case of Josh Rosen. From an armchair evaluator that was never big on Rosen’s game, the flaws he’s exhibiting have been developed. Consistently lifting his feet upon release, stepping out of clean platforms and into traffic, the kid has no trust in his surrounding parts or his own ability to dissect the defense.

His timing remains late, he’s not managing the pocket and finding space even at the level he was three weeks ago, and everything looks like a challenge for him in this offense.

Rosen will start going forward, I suppose, but this is broken quarterback that needs some time in the shop.

Fitzpatrick was excellent. He provided that classic, bearded spark that rejuvenates the team in a pinch. He was on-time, accurate, and navigated the same pass protection with no issues (no sacks, no turnovers).

Running Backs

The most interesting factoid from this position group came from Kenyan Drake’s post-game presser. Mark Walton began the game as Miami’s starting back, and Drake revealed that the two-point conversion play call had been repped all week by the Dolphins apparent new starter, and former Hurricane, Mark Walton.

Walton, after blowing a pass protection assignment on Miami’s first possession, was the most creative runner for the Dolphins. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry, a season-high for a Phins back, on six carries. Walton’s production was greater in the passing game. He caught another five for 43 yards, giving him 75 yards from scrimmage on the game.

Drake consistently churned out yards as well (10 for 40). He added six receptions for 30 yards — he and Walton’s 15 targets made up more than a third of Miami’s target-share.

Then, there’s the forgotten man, Kalen Ballage. He had three carries and no pass targets. Though Ballage bulldozed into the end zone on a goal line plunge, he has been almost entirely phased out of the offense. He’s essentially a short yardage back at this stage — can’t catch, can’t play tailback in this offense.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

It was a lot of fun to see the Dolphins receivers make some plays in a functioning offense. Devante Parker’s touchdown reception was an extremely difficult catch sliding into the end zone (go out in your backyard and try to catch a ball at your knee caps in a full sprint).

Preston Williams catch-rate remains atrocious (caught 2 of 6 targets Sunday), but his 21-yard stab on Miami’s final touchdown drive put the offense in scoring range.

Mike Gesicki is coming on, and I will not shut up about out from now until further notice. The athletic ability to catch contested balls up the seam should not be underplayed, and that catch he made to start that final drive was a godsend for this offense.

We’ll have more to say about the other tight ends in the film room session on Wednesday’s podcast.

Offensive Line

Another week of shuffling, another week of heading back to the drawing board — or is it? With Rosen in the game, the line was manhandled (five sacks). Once Fitzpatrick entered, the quarterback remained clean, and the offense produced at a rate better than league average (13 points on four drives, more than a point better than NFL average).

Jesse Davis was a tough watch at left tackle before the injury, and things did not get better working on the right side. He’s frequently a beat slow, and can’t gain the necessary depth to take on elite speed rushers. And calling Ryan Kerrigan’s speed rush elite at this stage is probably generous.

Michael Deiter remains a considerable work in progress. His tendency to get out over his skies, which makes him vulnerable to tackles that can rush effectively with lateral agility, shows up on tape each week.

J’Marcus Webb continues to struggle with speed rushes off the blindside edge, but that should be expected. After all, Webb was a street free agent. Miami found a way to help him as much as possible, but the leaks from the other side caused Miami to dial up even more max protection.

Isaiah Prince is serving the role that I always thought was best for him — sixth lineman when the formation goes heavy. I’m intrigued to look at the job he did in that role today, but I don’t have that evaluation ready just yet.

Defensive Line

Christian Wilkins is getting better as this season goes along, and that should realistically be the most important development on the roster. Wilkins’ ability to collapse pockets from the inside will determine what kind of line this group is going to be on the other side of the rebuild. He’s not getting many opportunities to do it just yet, but he’s showing up every week with impressive reps against good players.

Taco Charlton has replaced Charles Harris at the left defensive end position. We’ll have snap counts tomorrow, but Charlton is a fundamentally sound edge defender that typically funnels things back inside — something Harris struggled to grasp for 2.5 years.

John Jenkins put a nice move on Washington Left Guard Ereck Flowers, but was quiet for the rest of the game.

Linebackers

Raekwon McMillan is probably the team’s MVP to this point. He’s a decisive run defender that finds his fit and explodes through contact. This staff has discovered the best route for McMillan to be an effective player, and he’s rising to that challenge.

Jerome Baker was better in this game. He was able to put pressure on the quarterback at least a couple of times from my count, including a nifty inside move on Washington’s Left Tackle.

Vince Biegel is an interesting rush-package player — he was in the Washington backfield at times.

Deon Lacey was with Miami in camp a few summers back. He went to Buffalo and contributed on special teams, but he’s back in South Florida doing the same thing for the Dolphins.

Defensive Backs

Xavien Howard practiced throughout the week, but didn’t play Sunday, and the impact was palpable. Washington Rookie Terry McLaurin made big plays in Howard’s absence, including a touchdown against his replacement, Ken Webster.

Eric Rowe had his best game as a Dolphin. He showed recovery speed and made plays on the football a couple of times.

The same was true of rookie Nik Needham. After his call-up from the practice squad, Needham had a pass breakup and didn’t allow any catches on the day.

Reshad Jones was active against the Washington run-heavy attack. He picked up nine tackles and was a regular in the backfield.

Bobby McCain’s had a good day that included a crucial pass break-up in the end zone, but it was his profanity-laced interview post-game that caught reporter’s attention. Expressing this frustration should come as no surprise for a team captain that pours his all into this game.

Recap

The Fitzpatrick jolt should provide fans with some confidence in the coaching and the plan going forward. Suddenly, the passing concepts were effective, Miami found chunk plays to the backs, and Gesicki was unlocked up the seam.

Brian Flores’ and Patrick Graham’s defensive structure has been sound for the most part this season, and the defense’s effort was good enough to win. Washington scored 17 points on 12 possessions Sunday. The rush scheme, and consequent effort to fill those vacated areas, made life difficult on Washington’s antiquated offensive attack.

The Dolphins simply have to get better in multiple areas from a talent standpoint. The quarterback play, the offensive line, the interior rotation and edge rush, and secondary all need an infusion of players. The draft capital will allow Miami to put premium assets into those groups, then, and only then, can we adequately judge this Dolphins staff.

The Steelers are railroading the Chargers currently, so the dream for a pair of top-three picks will be put on hold, for now.

Miami’s battle with Cincinnati for the top pick could come down to a week 16 showdown in South Florida. The Bengals do have dates with Pittsburgh, the Jets, Dolphins, and up-and-down Browns to round out the season.

Given the Dolphins weak S.O.S., a victory shouldn’t interrupt the Miami’s collision course with the first pick next April. Washington’s remaining slate features only two more losing teams — it’s difficult to find another win for a team that survived a last-minute scare from the NFL’s unanimous doormat.

A win today would’ve made the path to the first pick treacherous. The loss instead, however, keeps Miami in the catbird seat to land Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.

@WingfieldNFL

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NFL Draft

Scouting College Football’s Top 2020 QB Prospects – Week 7

Travis Wingfield

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Recapping Week 7 of the College Football Season

During the college season, here on Locked On Dolphins, we’re going to keep an eye on quarterbacks all throughout the country. Our primary focus will be on the big four, the options that Miami will likely choose from with an early pick in the 2020 draft.

Those quarterbacks are:

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report

2019 Week 1 Recap
2019 Week 2 Recap
2019 Week 3 Recap
2019 Week 4 Recap
2019 Week 5 Recap
2019 Week 6 Recap

*LSU’s Joe Burrow has been added to the prospect watch list.

We’ll go in chronological order from when the games were played.

Justin Herbert vs. Colorado,Win 45-3
Stats: 18/33 (54.5%) 261 yards (7.9 YPA) 2 TDs

Regardless of what happens throughout Justin Herbert’s professional career, he will flash moments of brilliance. The consistency of those spurts, however, remains uncertain. When the defense reacts according to the play call, it’s over. Herbert’s ability to quickly drive the ball down the field excites scouts everywhere.

The issue of inconsistency remains, well, consistent. Lapses in accuracy, proper mechanical alignment and anticipatory throws raise concerns over Herbert’s ability to translate at the next level. When there’s no urgency, everything is rosy. Herbert can adequately process and adjust his throw type when he’s free of adverse circumstances.

When Herbert is forced to speed things up — get away from an unexpected free rusher, anticipate a route opening up against the leverage of the defense — errors occur. Balls on the wrong hip/shoulder, late throws into tight windows, there’s a lack of trust in what he sees post-snap.

The upside is difficult to ignore, but those issues have to become hardwired corrections for Herbert to ever realize that potential.

Jake Fromm vs. South Carolina, Loss 20-17 (OT)
Stats: 28/51 (54.9%) 295 yards (5.78 YPA) 1TD, 3 INTs

The first 54 minutes of this game were a struggle from Fromm and the Georgia offense. After early success that has Fromm accomplishing whatever he wanted against the Gamecock defense — man or zone — Fromm’s decision making and location went south during a 42-minute scoring drought.

The good version of Fromm showed anticipation, timing and location on point, as they all typically are. Fromm’s interception on a throwaway attempt to close out the first half started a cascade of poor football. His accuracy waned, his normally perfect communication with the receivers went awry, and Georgia trailed with just six minutes to play at home against an inferior football team. Fromm also lost a fumble on a failed quarterback-center exchange on the doorstep of the red zone.

Executing a 96-yard, game-tying drive when he had to have it speaks highly to Fromm’s character. The NFL will present adversity, and Fromm has showcased the ability to overcome hurdles. Still, at the end of the day, he made too mistakes for Georgia to win this game.

One week after elevating his draft stock ahead of Justin Herbert and Jordan Love, Fromm comes back to earth and makes one thing abundantly clear — there’s a big gap between Tua and the rest of this class.

Tua Tagovailoa at Texas A&M, Win 47-28
Stats: 21/34 (61.8%) 293 yards (8.62 YPA) 4 TDs, 1 INT

On a day where Tua wasn’t as finely tuned as we’ve come to expect, he surpasses A.J. McCarron for the career touchdown passes record at Alabama with another four touchdown day. Tua’s second touchdown was a classic example of his pre-snap acumen, post-snap mechanical alignment, and precise ball location against an A&M blitz. Quickly getting to his spot and setup, Tua throws it right in behind the blitz and right on the bullseye for a big play.

The fourth touchdown was a fantastic anticipation strike to Henry Ruggs. Tagovailoa’s trust in his own eyes and processor allows him to anticipate better than any passer in the country.

He also showcased his fluid pocket mobility. Whether it’s escaping, or climbing up and wading through the trash, the only thing more dangerous than Tua on-script, is the improvising version of Tua.

The trust can lead to some mistakes and easy turnovers, however. Tua’s interception was a carbon copy of one of his INTs in the SEC Championship Game in 2018 against Georgia. Tua checked his backside read and attacked play side with the information he gathered. He was wrong in thinking the safety was bailing out. Instead, the safety robbed a dig route from Jeudy, and Tua was late with the football for an easy pick.

There were additional accuracy issues (available in the video thread) in the game, but not by a significant margin. Typically, when he makes a mistake, he erases the wrongdoing on the next play. Tua can play better, certainly, but I sometimes wonder if we hold him to an unrealistic standard.

A career 9:1 TD:INT ratio will do that (81 TDs, 9 INTs).

Joe Burrow vs. Florida, Win 42-28
Stats: 21/24 (87.5%) 293 yards (12.2 YPA) 3 TDs

Kirk Herbstreit said it best early fourth quarter after Joe Burrow beat another Gators blitz. Herbie referred to Burrow having all the answers for the looks Florida threw at him, and it led to a strong, efficient performance.

Burrow not only threw on-time and on-target within the structure of the offense, he navigated murky pockets and extended plays with big results.

Burrow’s growth in year-two in this offensive system makes for a master attacking the middle, intermediate portion of the field. Dropping the ball in behind linebackers and underneath the safeties, Burrow’s accuracy on crossing routes leads to big plays after the catch for the talented Tigers receivers.

Burrow forced his way into this discussion. The big four have become the big five and Burrow could wind up top-three if he continues this success.

Recap

We’re entering the portion of the season where we can begin to compare common opponents. Fromm earned his way into QB2 status with steady, consistent play through six weeks, but Fromm had his ugliest showing of the year Saturday.

That three-interception performance comes against a defense that Tua carved up for 444 yards and five touchdowns. The already significant gap between QB1 and QB1 increased after the performances of Tagovailoa and Fromm this weekend.

Herbert has nothing to prove against inferior foes. His physical talents are too much for poor defense, especially units that are poorly coached like Colorado. For Herbert to enter QB2 status, he’ll have to show out in adverse circumstances — something he really hasn’t done in his career.

Love was off this week; perhaps the bye week we’ll supplement his familiarity in yet another system. Burrow has passed all of his tests this season, but he still has a way to go before he’s even considered a one-year wonder.

Half way through the college football season, my quarterback big board goes:

  1. Tua Tagoavailoa
  2. Jake Fromm
  3. Jordan Love
  4. Joe Burrow
  5. Justin Herbert

@WingfieldNFL

Additional Prospect Video Threads

Alabama Linebacker, Anfernee Jennings

Oklahoma Center, Creed Humphrey

Oklahoma Wide Receiver, Ceedee Lamb

Oklahoma Linebacker, Kenneth Murray

LSU Edge, K’Lavon Chaisson

Penn State Edge, Yetur Gross-Matos

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Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins Aren’t Tanking, They Just Suck

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of people want to tell you that the Miami Dolphins are tanking, and depending on how they’re looking at it, they’re either entirely right or woefully wrong.

You see, each player on this football team is attempting to put forth their best effort. They are trotting onto the field branding aqua and orange with the intent of being as successful as they can be.

There may be particular instances where a player prioritizes their health over a few extra yards, but overall, they aren’t going out there just to collect a paycheck.

These people have played football their entire lives. It’s insulting to assume they aren’t trying to maximize the one thing they’ve passionately performed since they were a toddler.

It’s also insulting to assume that this fanbase is so oblivious and naive that rooting to lose means they are not a “real fan”.

When linebacker Jerome Baker called out Dolphins fans (that are actively rooting for a “tank”), he was making a fair point, but he did so without acknowledging what these fans are actually rooting for deep down.

There isn’t a single fan that genuinely enjoys losing. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you that fans are rooting for one miserable season with the hope that it breeds 10 successful ones.

But Baker is right, the players are performing as hard as they can. They’re pridefully going out there and trying to build their resumes for the other 31 teams to see. These snaps will be meaningless in a few weeks (when the Dolphins are unofficially eliminated from the playoffs), but you can’t sell that to a person looking to boost (or, heck, just ensure) a paycheck going forward.

The thing is, the performance that these players are putting out there is the reason why Miami is not just 0-4, but historically one of the worst teams in NFL history.

The front office may have helped create this mess, but they aren’t the reason why people assume the players aren’t trying.

A Surprising Development

2019 was supposed to be a season filled with growth and progress. Establish who your building blocks are, and mold them into a youthful core that can lead the new franchise quarterback to victory.

But all of that growth and progress we expected to see has been virtually nonexistent. In fact, there have been more “surprises” than there have been developments that we can rely on. And while that’s great for the players we had lower expectations for, it speaks minimally for either the players we expected to develop, or the coaching staff we expected to develop them.

Raekwon McMillan has been Miami’s best linebacker so far this season. Though we have to provide the caveat that it comes with a limited snap count, McMillan has been a force in the running game. Did McMillan have too much on his plate last year? Did he finally (fully) recover from his torn ACL in 2017? Is he flourishing without the expectations? Is this really just a flash in the pan?

It’s hard to pinpoint why McMillan has improved so much this season, but this is a welcomed site to see. I’m not expecting 2020 starting middle linebacker or even an elite talent from the former second-round pick, but McMillan has gone from an afterthought to a necessity on this 2019 team.

With just 121 snaps (compared to Sam Eguavoen‘s 251 and Jerome Baker’s 279), I hope defensive coordinator Patrick Graham finds a way to incorporate McMillan a bit more.

After watching the Washington Redskins and the Cincinnati Bengals for 5 weeks, fans are legitimately concerend that Josh Rosen will win too many games this year. While judging Rosen has always been one of the primary objectives of 2019, it was only 3 weeks ago that we expected Ryan Fitzpatrick to start a majority of the season because Rosen wasn’t picking up (or processing) the playbook well enough.

If it weren’t for so many dropped passes, Rosen would have a handful of highlights that make you think he’s the guy. Instead, those drops may be an omen that the Dolphins franchise quarterback isn’t currently on the roster.

But this is where the surprising storylines end. There have been plenty of other surprising developments in 2019, but none of them have been good. It’s these (lack of) developments that further explain why everyone believes the Dolphins are tanking.

Lack of Player Development

It all started somewhat shockingly before the season began when Vincent Taylor was cut. The former 6th-round pick was expected to be a starting defensive tackle for the next couple of years; instead, he was removed from the roster entirely with little explanation why.

Different coaching staffs have different philosophies and playing styles, but Taylor was a productive player with plenty of potential. Whether it was his attitude or the shape he was in when he reported to camp, Miami found a reason to remove a budding talent. Can’t blame the players for taking talent off the roster.

Linebacker Sam Eguavoen was expected to become a future starting linebacker for this team. And while he’s still raw, he hasn’t shown the same level of potential that fellow former CFL transfer Cameron Wake displayed when he joined Miami.

Next to John Denney, Jason Sanders was the only player you had unwavering confidence in.

Sanders has missed as many kicks through 4 games than he did in all of 2018. After making 18 of 20 kicks (and 35 of 36 PATs) in 2018, Sanders has made just 4 of 7 FGs so far this season. Are we adding kicker to the list of holes this team has to plug in 2020?

Jerome Baker hasn’t lived up to the preseason hype. Is it the extra work stacked on his plate? Is it just a sophomore slump?

We expected Baker to be a jack-of-all-trades linebacker who could cover the pass, stunt the run and rush the quarterback. So far, he seems a bit over his head. Granted, he receives minimal help around him, but this defensive front isn’t that much weaker than last season’s.

It’s safe to say that we all expected Baker to be a bit better at this point. If you’re going to “call out” the fanbase for cheering on long term success at the expense of short term misery, you better make sure your performance gives those fans a reason to think otherwise.

If Baker was meant to do everything up front, Bobby McCain was expected to be a Swiss army knife in the secondary. Not only has that experiment been subpar, but it appears more and more like McCain is a player without a position rather than a player that can do it all. It just makes me wonder what McCain “could have been” if the coaching staff left him in his natural slot cornerback position all these years.

After receiving a 4-year, $24m contract extension this offseason, Jakeem Grant has gone from a threatening #3 receiver – and a menacing kick returner – to a player that becomes cringeworthy when the ball is in the air. There isn’t a single person reading this that is confident when the ball is headed in Grant’s direction. Yet, just last month we felt we had a competent wide receiver for the next 3+ years.

There was LOTS of hype around Kalen Ballage when camp broke this offseason. He looked faster, quicker, more-toned and ready to take the #1 running back role from Kenyan Drake. Instead, Ballage has contributed more touchdowns to the opposing team than he has recorded himself. His 1.5 yards-per-carry (YPC) isn’t entirely his fault, as the offensive line in front of him is pedestrian at best, but that logic doesn’t seem to fit Drake’s 3.6 YPC or Mark Walton‘s 3.9 YPC.

I don’t need to tell you that Ballage has been a disappointment, I think we’ve all come to that conclusion the moment he ducked away from an RB screen pass coming his way.

What the Fans Want

Fans are tired of witnessing performances like this.

Every team has draft picks that flame out, but the Dolphins seem to load up on under-performing players. Is it this team’s “culture”? Is it terrible ownership? Is it terrible scouting?

Easily enough, 20 years of mediocrity can be summed up by the quarterback position. And right now, there are two entities that have identified that obtaining an elite quarterback solves ineptitude: fans and the Front Office.

If you were to say that the players are tanking, you’d be terribly wrong. If you were to say that the intellectual minds that make decisions for the Miami Dolphins are tanking, you are absolutely right.

You don’t trade away a cornerstone left tackle, your best wide receiver, your most-experience linebacker, and a handful of other assets if you’re trying to win as many games as possible.

Reshad Jones and Xavien Howard may not miss as many games if every game was crucial.

These are active decisions made (or heavily suggested) by the Front Office. They’re not asking the players to under-perform, they’re doing a good job of that themselves.

When all is said and done, it’s possible this coaching staff is the reason for the lack of development. They could all be in over their heads, and Brian Flores is just a temporary band-aid that allows the next coach to reap the benefits of stocked draft picks and abundant cap space.

I understand that it’s deflating to watch your team’s fanatics root against you, but their apathy isn’t the most disappointing part of the 2019 season. Give the fans a reason to cheer, and you might actually be reciprocated with applause.

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