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NFL Draft

Miami Dolphins’ predraft visits and their potential context clues

Shawn Digity

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USA Today Sports Miami Dolphins draft
Minkah Fitzpatrick being selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

The Miami Dolphins are going through their due diligence of predraft visits and private workouts. Is there anything meaningful that can be taken from them?

It’s part of the process. All throughout the draft season teams will be doing their homework on numerous prospects in the several-month leadup to the main event in late April. But the million-dollar question is whether or not the visits have any relation to actual draft selections.

While it is left to each organization’s discretion on how to use the allotted 30 predraft visits, many of the teams will use the opportunity to bring in enigmatic or red-flag prospects to get a better grasp on how they could fit into the team dynamic. Other teams will use it to interview potential draftees. There are many ways a team can use the predraft visits–that’s what makes it so hard to discern the reason for each individual predraft 30.

Smokescreen season

So it goes without saying that this part of the draft process can really throw fans through a loop. Smokescreens are afoot, and a prospect visit could not be what it seems from the fan who’s watching from the outside.

I know I’m guilty of this almost every year, but I’ll see a list of prospect visits, dinners, workouts, and meetings and start trying to make connections and estimates for actual draft selections, akin to the hard-boiled 1950s detective with the photos and yarn on his bullet board looking for any possible clues.

Long-winded analogies aside, I don’t think there’s any historical correlation between visits and selections. This is not the answer that the conspiracy theorist in all of us wants to hear, but it’s the truth, more often than not.

Predraft visits and selection likelihood

Sometimes there are anomalies, though. In 2017, for example, Charles Harris and Raekwon McMillan were the first- and second-round selections and both had visits with the Dolphins.

Cordrea Tankersley, who was the third-round pick was not a visitor and did not have any contact with the Dolphins. But with the selections of Isaac Asiata, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor and Isaiah Ford, the idea of the Miami Dolphins drafting players that they were in contact with during the predraft process went up in flames.

Was that a result of the trade-down with the Eagles from the fourth round and it caused the draft plan to go awry? Or are the predraft visits just smoke and mirrors meant to feign interest in Player A to drive down the interest or dim the spotlight for Player B in hopes of getting a good value pick? A lot of question come with any theory of connecting visits to actual interest.

Coach-GM coupling effects

I suppose that none of the fans truly know that answer–I certainly don’t. It also matters that the Dolphins have had many different front offices in the past several years. Maybe Mike Tannenbaum viewed the usage of the visits differently than Dennis Hickey or Jeff Ireland and even if Chris Grier was still the de facto GM in some of those cases, it might still be different yet now that he’s coupled with Brian Flores.

If that’s the case then this entire article is moot since this will obviously be Chris Grier’s first year working with Brian Flores. To a degree, it matters, but I’m not sure how different it will vary from regimes of yesteryear. The purpose of the predraft visits could, in fact, have many similarities over the numerous front office over the past decade or longer or it could not.

Seeing things that aren’t there

To me, it stood out that both Charles Harris and Raekwon McMillan had visits with the Dolphins and ended up being selected in consequent rounds. That’s enough to think that there could be a preference to draft players that came in for a workout or visit, but then that just begs more questions.

Are the Dolphins using the visits as opportunities to interview candidates they already like in a traditional job-applicatory style or are they gauging their overall interest based on the outcome of the visits?

I’m sure you’ll figure out the direction of this article with all the rhetorical, hypothetical questions, but I’m ultimately in the school of thought that there isn’t correlation or causality with the Miami Dolphins predraft visits and their actual draft picks in the subsequent draft.

What a coincidence

The 2017 back-to-back picks of Charles Harris and Raekwon McMillan was coincidental and was just the product of how the Dolphins had those two players rated on the big board and how the draft picks started falling.

The same thing can be said with the gift-wrapped Minkah Fitzpatrick in the 2018 Draft after he stumbled to the Dolphins at the 11th pick. Fitzpatrick had not been in contact with the Dolphins at any point, but when he fell, the Fins must’ve already had him highly rated on the board, enough to take him in the first round.

How these dominoes ended up falling was circumstantial based on the one-time draft and the visits played no role on how the players were taken, how the big board was created or how the actual selections were chosen.

On to the future

Now I’ll be remiss if I didn’t use this opportunity to talk about the 2019 predraft visits and look for things that aren’t there for the newest crop of prospects. Here’s the most complete list of visits I could find.

Now at this point, the list of prospects that the Miami Dolphins has shown interest in is large enough that there will be at least one player drafted off of it. I’ll get to that prediction in a second. the list has 55 names on it, I would even humor arguments that say the Dolphins will take two guys off that list.

It’s just such a large number that you could take any random pool of 55 players in this year’s draft class and end up with one to two players that the Miami Dolphins will end up drafting.

It also matters that the Dolphins have seven regular picks: one first, one second, one third, one fourth, one fifth, and two sevenths. There’s an even spread of higher- and lower-tiered athletes on the Dolphins list, so that means that the potential for drafting the listees won’t wane as the draft gets into the later rounds.

The list includes big names such as Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins from Ohio State and lesser-known players like Koda Martin from Syracuse and Corrion Ballard from Utah.

Now I should make this point, the 2019 visit list I found includes all contacts and not just predraft 30s. Meetings from Pro Days, the Combine, Senior Bowl week, East-West Shrine week, and local-visit candidates are also listed. Although, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter since the reasonings for any of the meetings in any regard are different on a case-by-case basis.

Without Further Ado

So now that I’ve dismissed the idea of any major correlation between the visits/meetings, I will take a random stab at the list and make a prediction on who will be a Miami Dolphin after the draft. This is a whimsical, baseless guess and my only guiding light is how I think the team will address team needs this year. I’m predicting the Miami Dolphins will take Johnnie Dixon on Day 3, no rhyme or reason behind that prediction.

If anything, you can look at that 2019 list and see who the Dolphins will likely not take because in years past the trend has often been taking players that aren’t on the list. So if you see a player on that list, then that’s closer to a kiss of death than it is a positive bellwether.

Also for reference, 2018 and 2017 visits and meetings.

 

I am an Ohio University alum and I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for the last two years. I’ve been a Dolphins fan since I was a kid and I picked them because I liked the old-school logo. It grew from that as I got older and I luckily caught the tail end of Dan Marino’s career. It’s stuck ever since and now I’m an upstart, wild-and-free Dolphins beat writer, loving every second of it.

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NFL Draft

Miami Dolphins select Ohio State’s Isaiah Prince in the sixth round

Shawn Digity

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USA Today Sports Isaiah Prince
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

With their sixth-round pick and 202 overall, the Miami Dolphins selected offensive tackle Isaiah Prince out of Ohio State

The Dolphins received the 202nd pick as part of the package in Day 2’s trade-down with the Saints. After moving down and chipping in their fourth-rounder, the Fins got the late sixth-rounder in return as part of the deal.

The Dolphins took Isaiah Prince out of another strong program that consistently shoots out offensive lineman, Ohio State. Prince’s teammate, Michael Jordan, went earlier on Day 3 to the Bengals.

Isaiah Prince is a tough evaluation. I wasn’t a big fan and Prince often times was on the losing end of the point of attack. He was called for numerous holding calls and I saw him on the ground a lot. This might be because he has less-than-ideal foot movement. I am interested to see how he factors into the Dolphins’ grand scheme. He might specialize in becoming the swing tackle.

Isaiah Prince is very raw, but the Ohio State pedigree for trench players speaks for itself, so this could turn into a good late-round pick with a little time and development.

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NFL Draft

Dolphins Draft Wisconsin Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel

Travis Wingfield

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Miami had quite a wait before its first day-three selection. In the fifth-round, with the 151st-pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Dolphins selected Wisconsin Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. A JUCO transfer, Van Ginkel picked up 12 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss in his Badgers’ career (off the bench in 2017, starter in 2018). The linebacker added two interceptions, five pass breakups, and four forced fumbles.

The Dolphins have a glaring hole in the assumed Kyle Van Noy role, in a player that can play inside and outside at the linebacker position. Miami will attempt to develop Van Ginkel to set the edge in the running game, blitz the quarterback, and move all over the formation.

Combine Results

40-yard dash: Did not run
Bench Press: 17 reps
Vertical: 38 inches
Broad: 123 inches
3-cone: 6.89
Short Shuttle: 4.14

Van Ginkel has a similar build to Van Noy. At 6-foot-3, 241 pounds with 32 1/2 inch arms, the length and backfield production surely attracted Miami to Van Ginkel’s game.

Via that report from NFL.com, Van Ginkel plays with a high-motor, plays through injuries, and has the requisite athletic ability to play a multi-faceted role in the defense. His lean build and lack of power makes him a questionable edge-setter, which could prove problematic in the new defense. He allows blockers into his frame and doesn’t disengage very often.

Van Ginkel figures to make the squad on special teams and serve as depth in the linebackers room.

@WingfieldNFL

 

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NFL Draft

What positions will the Miami Dolphins address on Day 3 of the Draft

Shawn Digity

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USA Today Sports Charles Omenihu Miami Dolphins draft
Charles Omenihu in the Sugar Bowl. Omenihu is still available on day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

The Miami Dolphins still have four picks left in the 2019 NFL Draft. Which positions should and will be addressed by the time the dust settles on on the 209 NFL Draft?

With the trades that came yesterday on Day 2, the Dolphins are left without a fourth-round pick. They used pick 116 as a kickback-pick to the Saints when trading down from 48 to 62. Although they scooped the Saints’ 2020 second-rounder, the Dolphins will now have to wait until pick 151 to get their first selection of the day.

At 151, partway through the fifth round, the Dolphins could still get some good value. I would look for them to go in on the edge rushers. Some guys I would personally like to see at that pick are Arkansas State’s Ronheen Bingham, Eastern Michigan’s Maxx Crosby, Georgia’s Jonathan Ledbetter, Iowa’s Anthony Nelson, or Oregon’s Justin Hollins.

Charles Omenihu is surprisingly still available, but I expect him to be selected sometime during the fourth round. Here’s a more comprehensive list of available edge rushers from Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller.

I also expect the Miami Dolphins to address the offensive line again at some point during Day 3. Michael Deiter, the third-round pick, is a good start, but I’d like to see another draft pick get dedicated to the interior offensive line. I wouldn’t be upset to see the Dolphins select a right tackle, either, even if Jesse Davis is already tentatively penciled in there.

Some targets that I’d like in the later rounds include Clemson’s Mitch Hyatt, Notre Dame’s Alex Bars, Arkansas’ Hjalte Froholdt, Kentucky’s Bunchy Stallings, Florida’s Martez Ivey or Miami’s Venzell Boulware. Here are some more prospects that could be available later today for the offensive line. Here’s a second perspective from Kevin Brown on some of the talent still on the board for Day 3, as well.

The third position I’d like to see get selected is cornerback or safety. There are still some hidden gems available and some of them could still be available in the seventh round.  Some of my personal favorites include Sheldrick Redwine from Miami, Xavier Crawford from Central Michigan, Jimmy Moreland from James Madison, Hamp Cheevers from Boston College, Ka’dar Hollman from Toledo, and Blace Brown from Troy. Here are some rankings for the best remaining defensive backs.

The final position I would address is quarterback. Yes, you read that right. I’m still taking a flier on a late-round quarterback and keeping three of them on the roster for 2019. Josh Rosen is the new kid on the block, but I would nab someone like Garnder Minshew with the 234th and final selection for the Dolphins. For a better understanding of the late-round quarterbacks, here’s a piece I did talking about the deep-dive prospects.

Once it’s all said and done, I am hoping that the Miami Dolphins will have drafted several of these positions. Edge, DB, offensive line and quarterback are on the wish list for the remainder of the draft.

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