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Miami Dolphins 2020 Senior Bowl Practices Takeaways

Travis Wingfield

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Position-by-position review of the Senior Bowl from a Miami Dolphins Lens

That’s a wrap from Mobile. The game is scheduled for Saturday, but that’s more pageantry than quality scouting material. The coverage of the event wasn’t up to the standard set in previous years, and use of time from either coaching staff was curious, to say the least. Still, we harvested a plethora of information ahead of the Dolphins most important draft this century.

Miami’s needs are as well-documented as they are vast. The downside of a roster in-need of reinforcement — well that’s evident from the 2019 win-loss record. In a glass half-full spirit, there are two upshots that come with Miami’s present territory.

1.) The benefit of a true best-player-available approach — Every team preaches this mentality, but few truly put it into practice. Last year’s Jaguars were the beneficiaries of a curious decision by the Oakland Raiders, and the New York Giants bypassing B.P.A for a pressing roster need.

The result: The Jags drafted for value and wound up with a 10-sack season from Josh Allen, and a right tackle that played every snap in Jawaan Taylor.

Miami can execute B.P.A. not just because of current makeup of the roster, but also the quantity of draft picks within the team’s possession. The latter provides an ideal segue into point number two.

2.) The simplification of targeting scheme fits — The Patriots and Lions run identical defensive systems, and have shown a proclivity for taking players higher than their perceived stock would suggest. But it’s not just the scheme that curates this philosophy. The Seahawks regularly shock the draft world by selecting players to fit the identity of the football team.

These two points are critical this week. The Senior Bowl’s draft production is not only at an all-time high, the efficacy of the players that shine in Mobile, then go onto the leagues’ big stage (Deebo Samuel, Dre Greenlaw and Fred Warner) is becoming increasingly tangible.

Several of these players stand a great chance to don the aqua and orange next season. And of those player, a significant crop will go on to play at pro-bowl levels.

With a presumed seven picks in the top-100, the Dolphins can completely restore the foundation of this team under Brian Flores.

No pressure.

Quarterbacks

First, kudos to Jim Nagy for getting first-round quarterbacks every year. Justin Herbert and Jordan Love will wind up in the top-15 this April, and they both showcased the eye-popping physical traits all week in Mobile.

The ball jumps off of their hands, and their ability to cut the wind with tight spirals made for an easy separation between the big-arms and the popguns on the field.

Love’s most intriguing moment — for my money — came from an interview he did on the Move the Sticks Podcast. When asked about his dip in production, Love eluded to the coaching staff changes and losing nine starters on offense. He described the season as a grind as it wasn’t until very late when things starting to click for the offense. The words speak volumes, but the tone was indicative of a player that was frustrated by his situation all year.

I’ll bang the table for Jordan Love. His best football is ahead of him and I believe his 2018 season is a better representation of his skills. He remains option B if the Dolphins can’t find a way to select Tua Tagovailoa, and it’ll take the fifth pick to make that happen.

When it comes to Herbert, I think a reprieve-of-sorts is in order. Well, not a reprieve, but I should be more appreciative of his skill set. When I say he reminds me of Ryan Tannehill, I focus on the downside of that comparison, but not the intriguing qualities. I wrote an article in 2016 stating, “if a coach can’t figure out how to win with [Tannehill], then maybe he’s just not a good coach.”

And the reason for that statement came from the multiple ways in which Tannehill can beat a defense. He opens the zone-read game. He’s deadly on boots and naked rolls. He’s a big-armed quarterback that can dice the defense on every throw within the structure, and make the occasional wow-play.

That’s Herbert in a nutshell.

But the Oregon product is also saddled with similar red flags as the former Aggie. And I’m an ex-lover scorned. A true lack of urgency. Watch the way both of these quarterbacks operate when time is of the essence. Watch the consistency of their mechanics and the trust of what they see when it’s do-or-die time.

Both Herbert and Tannehill are heavy-legged with a slow internal clock under duress. That’s the deadliest combination there is for a quarterback, and in the most condemning way imaginable.

Ultimately, if the coaching staff determined that Herbert was the guy they covet, and for the reasons I mentioned, then let’s go — I trust this iteration of the Dolphins brass. Especially a staff that knows how to cater to the strengths of the player. With Herbert, Miami could justify making a run at Derrick Henry, the perfect complimentary type to Herbert’s strengths.

While Herbert impressed in the all-star game practices, that’s merely a small piece of the puzzle. Another piece — a much larger piece — of that puzzle, are the big moments where Herbert continuously came up small in college. That matters to me. And it will anchor the evaluation on Hebert regardless of how he performs in the run up to the draft.

Jalen Hurts is more project than legit contender to start in his rookie season. It’s difficult to envision a scenario where Miami drafts a quarterback indisputably outside the top-five of his class, and tailors an offense around that player — not after all the work to get into this phase of the rebuild. Hurts throwing inconsistencies need a year of work — at least.

Anthony Gordon might be more of a project. His footwork and spatial awareness in the pocket need more grooming than the nation’s leading passing attack could provide last season.

Steven Montez and Shea Patterson are not draftable prospects.

Running Back

Joshua Kelly was ripping through lanes and getting to the second level as quick as any back that played this week. He pairs vision and burst well to alter angles of potential tacklers, and doesn’t have to stop his feet to find the cutback. He works the backside in zone as well as any back in this class, and he won regularly in one-on-one pass catching drills.

Lamical Perine is similar in his ability to press the hole and find the wind back lane in wide zone concepts. He too is a physical runner that finishes moving forward.

Antonio Gibson is the most intriguing player at the position, but he might be a master of none. He’s explosive as all get out, but he only carried the ball 38 times last year. He caught 33 passes with a chunk of that production coming as a slot receiver. His versatility will attract teams.

Wide Receiver

The Dolphins don’t need receivers, but they are growing on trees in this class. The elite group of pass catchers aren’t in Mobile, but there are several immediate contributors participating this week.

K.J. Hill is the next Ohio State receiver to show a penchant for elite route running. He’s twitched-up, uses his hands extremely well to keep himself clean, and almost always wins immediately of the line. I saw Hill compared to Emmanuel Sanders on Twitter; Sanders has been atop my offseason WR wish list for some time.

Van Jefferson put on a route-running clinic all week. He knows how to attack leverage, then go to work on the defender’s blind spot. He might be a good day-three option to fill in for Preston Williams until the ACL is fully healthy.

Denzel Mims is an anomaly. He’s big, strong, plucks the ball away from his frame and has a unique sense of body control and field awareness when he works the perimeter and end lines.

Chase Claypool won all week at the L.O.S, Quartney Davis is a physical technician, Devin Duvernay has track speed and the best YAC numbers in the country, and Michael Pittman is a crafty player that can alter his releases, tempo, and moves at the top of the route. SMU’s James Proche has the look of an effective slot — he’s got a lot of wiggle at the line.

It’s too bad Brandon Aiyuk didn’t participate — he’s the best of the impressive bunch.

It would behoove the Dolphins to capitalize on the value of this position with a day-three selection to groom behind a good receiving corps.

Tight Ends

Adam Trautman entered the week with buzz, and now enters the game with a legitimate shot of hearing his name called on Friday of the draft. He’s huge, athletic, and surprisingly polished in his route running for a player that’s relatively new to the position.

Bryce Hopkins isn’t new to tight end, and it shows in his route running. He’s going to catch a lot of touchdowns for somebody and serve as a cover-2 seam buster.

LSU’s Stephen Sullivan probably made the biggest jump of the group. He was consistent as an inline blocker, which is a major feather in the cap of a player that entered college as a wide receiver.

Offensive Line

This position provided the most encouraging development of the week with regards to Miami’s draft plan. What originally looked like a dud of an interior O-line class suddenly has some life. We also identified another first-round tackle, and that’s where we’ll start.

Josh Jones is a fringe first-rounder for some scouts. He entered the year with questions about his technical prowess, but you wouldn’t know it from this week of work. He was the talk of the practice on Thursday showing exceptional mirror ability and greatly improvement hands.

Replicating Laremy Tunsil’s typewriter feet is impossible, but Jones is a good consolation. He’s athletic as all get out.

Two tackles with very little fanfare coming into Mobile will leave with a positive impression. Texas Tech’s Terrance Steele and Connecticut’s Matt Peart had good weeks. I’ll go back to the film room before I speak further on their respective games.

It was the interior line that made the best impression, starting at center.

Lloyd Cushenberry is a first-round prospect, probably OC1 after this week. He’s a monster. His hands touch his knees from an upright position with an 83-inch wingspan. He plays low and with incredible strength to execute reach and scoop blocks, and anchor in pass protection.

Damien Lewis isn’t a center, but he’s nearing OG1 status in his own right. His angles flowing to the second level are terrific, and he has the same low pad-level as his Tiger teammate.

Back to center, Temple’s Matt Hennessy made quite an impression all week. The video below showcases not just the easy-glide feet, but the symbiotic relationship between his feet and his eyes that help him maintain balance and power with his punches.

Nick Harris had a difficult week, but his tape is still the best of all draft eligible centers. His work in space is unmatched in this class.

San Diego State has been dubbed Stanford South for their run-heavy program. Center Keith Ismael anchored that group for the last four years. He had a good week of practices helping his draft stock in the process.

John Simpson is a mountain of a left guard and he was blocking out the sun on Wednesday’s practice. He had some issues with Javon Kinlaw and Marlon Davidson on day-one, but he bounced back with a strong finish to the week. He’s a day-one starter.

Defensive Line

Javon Kinlaw entered the week as the best player in Mobile and he’ll leave in the same fashion. He was utterly dominant on just about every individual rep he took — unblockable.

Marlon Davidson only practiced Tuesday, but he showcased the violent hands, length, and get-off that could serve him well as a chess piece pass rusher. He’s strong enough to hold the point, two-gap with an innate ability to stack-and-shed, and can play multiple positions across the line.

Jason Strowbridge is listed as an tackle, but pigeonholing this beast is disingenuous. He played inside for the Tarheels, but at 285 he might be a heavy end that condenses inside in rush situations. That combination of size and explosiveness makes for yet another attractive positionless piece up front for Miami.

Bradlee Anae is a hand-in-the-dirt end. His long arm was the best we saw all week, and he proved the most consistent pressure off the edge. That should be no surprise, he’s got the best arsenal of rush moves out there — super polished player.

Back inside, Davon Hamilton continues to rate highly on my board. His first step is rare for a player his size. That athletic ability, paired with a 330-pound frame, conjures up thoughts of Danny Shelton in this defense. He has the power to two-gap and the get-off to be an impact interior rusher.

Linebacker

No defender helped himself as much as Joshua Uche. Locking down anything and everything in coverage, but also showing a twitched-up rush package headlined by a wicked dip-and-rip, he’s a good fit in Miami’s positionless defense.

Zack Baun gives Miami the option of adding a third Badger to the linebacker corps. He was an issue for most tackles he went against with a terrific combination of speed and counter moves. He’s a polished rusher that can turn around and cover as well.

Malik Harrison picked off Jordan Love in Wednesday’s team period. He’s a thumper, but features enough athletic ability to play on all three downs. He’s a candidate to rush from all six gaps on passing downs.

Terrell Lewis is a first-off-the-bus type. He’s a rocked up 260-pounds with the athletic profile to match. A former basketball player, Lewis is more athlete than pure rusher, but he spoke about his own versatility on the Move the Sticks Podcast. Lewis referenced playing stack backer in dime running down the pipe in zone, rushing from the 3-technique, and playing outside.

Evan Weaver was the most consistent downhill run defender in team periods, which should be no surprise given his work at Cal. I still struggle to find a fit in Miami’s defense, but he’s a good football player.

Defensive Backs

Darnay Holmes had the most impressive week among the cornerbacks. He got beat a few times, but he was always in position to make a play, and his competitive spirit stood out from the rest.

Players like that raise the bar in practice and make everyone else better. Daniel Jeremiah described Holmes as having “nickel temperament,” in that he has the mindset to play the most difficult position on defense.

Troy Pride Jr. was the most consistent corner. He’s exceptional at recognizing tells in the receiver’s movements to lead him to the catch point. He anticipated routes all week and got his hands on footballs.

Dane Jackson fits the size profile, and he had a good week of one-on-one drills. He gets beat deep at times, due to some lacking long speed, but he likes to get his hands on guys at line — something Miami does with regularity.

Terrell Burgess will make his money in the box as a safety, but his ability to flex out and cover will really intrigue the Dolphins.

Alohi Gilman impressed in similar fashion. He was in hip-pockets all week, but he’s listed as a safety by the Fighting Irish.

Recap

This game sets up nicely for Miami’s biggest areas of need. Outside of quarterback, the trenches on either side of the ball need several reinforcements, and the Senior Bowl is chock full of tested, versatile players in both of those areas.

The Senior Bowl had more than 90 players drafted last year and 49 of the top 100 picks. A handful of these guys could get on the field immediately for Miami in 2020, but also serve as long-term pillars of the sustained success Stephen Ross covets.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Where in the world are the compensatory picks?

Shawn Digity

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NFL Draft
Image courtesy of Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – When I was a kid, I used to play this PC game, “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?”

Oh, it was a great time playing super sleuth and trying to track down her locations with the clues.

Those precious memories, though, were recently brought back because something much more serious is happening in the NFL.

I’ll shoot you straight. The stakes are higher this time.

OK, I’m bloviating. It might not be that serious in actuality, but still, the question remains.

Where in the world are the 2020 compensatory picks?

In years past, this might not have been as big of a deal, but it’s especially noteworthy since the Miami Dolphins are projected to receive two compensatory picks.

Normally, they’ve already been announced at this point.

The most recent predictions from Over the Cap have the Dolphins receiving a fourth-rounder from Ja’Wuan James exiting for Denver and a seventh-rounder for Brandon Bolden re-signing with the Patriots.

In their model, Over the Cap has the Cameron Wake and Ryan Fitzpatrick transactions canceling out and the Frank Gore departure and Eric Rowe signing nullifying each other.

The announcements have typically dropped at the end of February. That’s not the case this year. I think the first potential cause for the delay is the rocky road to the new collective bargaining agreement.

It certainly makes sense that the voting and ratifying process of a new decade-long CBA would hold precedence over the annual compensatory announcements.

But I also think that there’s an ideal two-week window that the compensatory picks could be dropped, now and up until the start of free agency.

Free agency starts on March 18, so from my perspective, it makes sense to release the comp pick announcements before the new league year kicks off.

It’s a way to wet the whistle of the fans to get them primed for all the free-agency razzle-dazzle and eventual draft dramatics. And it’s a way to get a day’s worth of exciting news in an otherwise dead stretch on the NFL calendar.

Maybe the delay was orchestrated all along for the news not to get lost in anything Combine that might still be lingering. Akin to the schedule release day, it could be a way for the NFL to optimize the announcement by introducing it when we least expect it or when nothing else is going on.

If my luck were any indication, the announcement would drop three seconds after publishing this. It would be a win-win, so it’s a risk I’m willing to take.

If the CBA progress continues to stagnate, though, then I could envision the comps being awarded next week.

That’s my crackpot theory, though; take it with a grain of salt.

And I offer no other credence to that theory other than my impressive track record of chasing down Carmen Sandiego on PC.

So I’ll let you be the judge.

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Miami Dolphins

A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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J.K. Dobbins 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.

Person B is ready to go with their mock.

Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.

I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.

They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.

Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida

As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.

Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”

Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”

Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”

Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”

[resends mock draft to Person B]

“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”

Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”

Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.

So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”

Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”

Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”

And that wraps things up with Person B.

What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).

Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…

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NFL Draft

A Miami Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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Tua Tagovailoa 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Miami, Florida (Locked On Dolphins) – Draft season is here. You know that already.

With draft season also comes the massive influx of mock drafts now that the floodgates have opened.

But that isn’t exactly what’s going on here.

There is a mock draft, but I’ve sought help from a different perspective this time.

I have enlisted some of my friends and family members to help put together their ideal draft classes for the Miami Dolphins in the 2020 Draft.

The kicker? They don’t know anything about football.

They aren’t up to date with the Miami Dolphins, either.

But I didn’t send them into the darkness totally blind. I sent them all the link to The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator where they were at least provided with a list of positional needs for the team.

To standardize each mock, I asked all contributors to pick the Dolphins, do seven rounds, use manual mode for their choices, and use The Draft Network’s predictive board.

Let’s see how our first contributor, Person A, did with their mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. D’Andre Swift – RB, Georgia
(1) 26. Grant Delpit – S, LSU
(2) 39. Ross Blacklock – iDL, TCU
(2) 56. Brandon Aiyuk – WR, Arizona State
(3) 70. Cole Kmet – TE, Notre Dame
(5) 135. Nick Coe – Edge, Auburn
(5) 144. Michael Onwenu – iOL, Michigan
(5) 147. Jacob Phillips – LB, LSU
(6) 165. Colby Parkinson – TE, Stanford
(6) 177. Lavert Hill – CB, Michigan
(7) 223. Cole Chewins – OT, Michigan State

I reached out to Person A to ask some questions and get some of their rationale behind the picks (and used the quotes with their permission).

When asked about double-dipping on tight ends, Person A said, “I didn’t realize I needed one from each of the letter combinations until later.”

When asked about their reasoning for waiting until the late rounds to address the offensive line, Person A responded, “I don’t know what the offensive line is, so no, I have no reasoning.”

In response to completing the mock draft, Person A had this to say: “I have no idea what I did, but here’s my list.”

There you have it, folks.

Person B’s mock draft is coming soon…

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