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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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Daniel meehan

    October 12, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    Travis, I think the linebacker is a problem position for us. Is their a linebacker in upcoming draft compatible to Dontae Hightower.

  2. Avatar

    Papapickett

    October 12, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    One thing is for sure. You are an excellent analyst and were lucky your a dolphins fan.

  3. Avatar

    Donv

    November 10, 2019 at 7:36 am

    I’m much more interested in Chris Grier’s big board than yours Travis, no offense. He has been evaluating talent for 20 plus years and he is paid well to do it with many resources and staff.His employment depends on getting it right. I am very patient and will wait and trust his choices, So called media and twitter experts are fine for entertainment but offer minimal knowledge and insight to a players success in the NFL. I will say the game I saw last night was much different than your interpretation. I think regardless of what happens you have an excuse for Tua, so no point to further evaluate his play he is perfect in your eyes. Fumbles, interceptions, sacks,are not on him, however passes caught by wide open players are all because of Tua and not the receivers.

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NFL Draft

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

Miami Dolphins meeting with Jordan Love at the Senior Bowl

Shawn Digity

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Jordan Love Miami Dolphins interest
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Mobile, Alabama (Locked On Dolphins) – Senior Bowl week is underway, and Tuesday set into motion the first practice.

The Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, January 25, at 1:30 p.m. Central Time.

Tuesday featured weigh-ins and measurements, and as per usual, the quarterback hand sizes became a viral trend on twitter.

As it relates to the headline, Jordan Love’s hands were measured at 10 5/8 inches, which was the biggest of all the quarterbacks.

It might not necessarily matter since coaches and analysts can go either way on a prospect’s hand size. But it could matter for someone who was already on the fence about Jordan Love.

It could’ve been the dealbreaker, too, for those who were already on the fence.

I mention the conflicting perspectives on hand sizes because it’s a perfect segue into the controversy and questions surrounding Jordan Love’s draft stock and pro prospects.

Now here’s the kicker.

The polarizing quarterback from Utah State will be meeting with the Dolphins at the Senior Bowl, per Joe Schad.

Hand sizes aside, it’s certainly worth noting that the Dolphins want to meet with Love.

It’s almost a certainty that the Dolphins want to and will address the quarterback position in the 2020 Draft, and Love offers a lot of desired characteristics for the job.

And there’s already been interest before from the Miami Dolphins, according to Tony Pauline.

Pauline has stated that the team was intrigued by the Aggie quarterback after his breakout 2018 season.

While Jordan Love’s 2019 season was tumultuous, to say the least, the moldable potential as a pro is evident.

Jordan Love is a likely draft riser now that the 2019 season is behind him. A good showing during the practices and the Senior Bowl will further help his cause, but Love is already looking at being selected in the teens or 20s.

The meeting, it’s fuel on the fire. In preparation for a scenario where the Dolphins cannot or do not get Tua Tagovailoa, the team could be exercising their due diligence to formulate a Plan B in that event.

It never hurts to be overprepared.

The content and reasoning of the meeting itself will remain surreptitious but will invite hypotheses regarding a Miami Dolphins-Jordan Love marriage.

Could he be the face of the franchise?

Is he the next Patrick Mahomes?

Can he make it as a pro?

Sure, there’s uncertainty with drafting Love, but the thing is, the connection makes sense. There’s a lot to like about Jordan Love, but he needs breathing room going into the NFL. The Miami Dolphins can offer him that, which would be favorable for his development.

It’s a good fit. And the logic is there.

It’s worth keeping tabs on Jordan Love’s draft journey, and we’ll see what unfolds from the meeting, if anything.

There’s a real shot that Jordan Love is the Miami Dolphins guy moving into 2020 and beyond. The meeting could be the first step in that process…

Or maybe they just want to talk about his hand size.

 

 

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NFL Draft

Senior Bowl 2020 Preview Through Miami Dolphins Lens – Defense

Travis Wingfield

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Best Dolphins scheme fits, and the price to acquire said players, taking the field this week at the Senior Bowl

By the time the popcorn is popped, the ball is teed up, and the fans have filed into the Ladd-Pebble’s stadium, most of the scouts, evaluators and decision makers have vacated Mobile, Alabama, the home of the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

It’s not that the game is devoid of value; it just pales in comparison to the value of the entire week of practices. Simulated situations pit college football’s best players against one-another in true tests of their abilities.

Change-of-direction, clean mechanics, competitiveness, all of these important traits are readily apparent in the padded practices that occur from Tuesday through Thursday in front of everyone who is anyone in the National Football League.

There are no shortcuts when it comes to prospect evaluation. Even after a nine-month process that begins at summer camp for area scouts, the best-drafting teams in the NFL still only hit on roughly half of their picks. But if there were a way to expedite the process of rifling through the hundreds of draft-eligible players, these practices are it.

We get a first-hand look at how players fare against elite college competition, repeatedly. Game-speed is on display. Lateral agility and movement skills are tested. The bounce back from a bad rep and jumping right back into the fire gives us insight on how players respond to adversity in short order. The clues we find in Mobile sends us back to the tape to re-evaluate our boards, and ultimately spit our final rankings and evaluations.

In case you’re new to Locked On Dolphins, this is how we covered the Senior Bowl last January.

Since everything we do is Dolphins specific, we’re looking at scheme fits. We’ll track which players the Dolphins meet with, and who impresses the most at the biggest positions of need.

In addition to projecting best possible scheme fits, we’ll factor in draft value when selecting the best possible player from each group for your Miami Dolphins. For instance, neither Justin Herbert or Jordan Love will be the top QB selected simply because of their high-end first-round draft status. If Miami selects Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick, Herbet and Love are off the board entirely.

It’s one of my personal favorite weeks of the year, so let’s get into part-two, the defense.

Offensive Preview

Senior Bowl Defense

The defensive side of the ball is loaded this week in Mobile. Gap-control rushers, interior pocket collapsers, on-and-off-ball linebackers and a secondary chock full of ball hawks, there are multiple future Dolphins in this group.

By now, we know that Miami are one of three teams in the league — four now with Joe Judge at the top of a program — that shops from an exclusive store. Bigger, stronger edge players that make up for a lack of athleticism with brute power and gap integrity. Versatile defensive backs that must excel in man coverage. Linebackers that can rush the quarterback from a variety of positions. These are the core tenants of the Patriots, Lions, and Dolphins defense, and perhaps the Giants under new management with Patrick Graham.

It’ll be impossible to highlight just a couple of players, so unlike the offensive side, we’ll discuss multiple players at each spot. As always, we’ll have even more detail on the Locked On Dolphins Podcast.

Defensive Line

Bradlee Anae (UTAH), Darrion Daniels (NEB), Marlon Davidson (AUB), Raekwon Davis (ALA), Leki Fotu (UTAH), Neville Gallimore (OK), Trevis Gipson (TULS), Jonathan Greenard (FLA), Davon Hamilton (OSU), Trevon Hill (MIA), Benito Jones (MISS), Javon Kinlaw (SC), Larrell Murchison (NCST), Alton Robinson (SYR), Jason Strowbridge (UNC), Kenny Willekes (MSU), Robert Windsor (PSU), Jabari Zuniga (FLA)

Best Fins Fit — Bradlee Anae, Utah

Anae is a 6-foot-3, 260-plus-pound edge that Miami will covet in this year’s draft. He’s a refined rusher with multiple moves in the arsenal, and the ability to angle inside as a rusher to expand the stunt game on the defensive line.

He’s not the most athletic rusher, but that’s not part of the prerequisites of playing edge in this scheme. New England never valued athleticism at end, and I don’t suspect Brian Flores will either. Dig-out or kick-out blocks are often a futile effort against Anae because of his long arms and ability to disengage quickly.

Projected Required Investment — Mid-Round Pick, Rounds 3-4

Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Base 5-Tech, Kick Inside in Nickle Rush Packages

Hardly a far cry from former Patriot, current Lion, and once a Near-Dolphin Trey Flowers, Anae is a power run defender that can redirect as a pass rusher on his way to stopping the ground game.

The moment the card is turned in, Anae becomes the best base defensive end on the team. While that’s an indictment of Miami’s roster, it’s also a testament to Anae’s skill set. He provides the versatility to kick inside on long yardage situations.

Area of Intrigue This Week — Pit Drill

This will be an area to either showcase Anae’s impressive heavy hands, or an opportunity to expose his limited athleticism. Again, the Dolphins don’t care much about the latter, and typically it’s the players with better moves in their arsenal that win in this drill.

Keep an Eye On — Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina

Something of a tweener for the rest of the league, Strowbridge fits right in at home in Miami. He entered college as a 245-pound end, and now he’s nearing three bills on the scale. Accordingly, Strowbridge has some explosion and wiggle that is unique to a player of his size.

He won’t be a base defensive tackle, but he is more than capable of fulfilling the 4-tech spot in bear fronts, or play the play-side 3-tech in even fronts. Leki Fotu is a Danny Shelton clone and Neville Gallimore and Javon Kinlaw are explosive, powerful interior rush presences, but will likely require a first-round selection. Strowbridge is a day-three player.

Linebackers

Zack Baun (WIS), Francis Bernard (UTAH), Jordyn Brooks (TT), Cameron Brown (PSU), Carter Coughlin (MIN), Akeem Davis-Gaither (APP), Troy Dye (ORE), Malik Harrison (OSU), Khaleke Hudson (MICH), Anfernee Jennings (ALA), Terrell Lewis (ALA), Kamal Martin (MIN), Davion Taylor (COL), Darrell Taylor (TEN), Josh Uche (MICH), Evan Weaver (CAL), Logan Wilson (WYO), D.J. Wonnum (SC)

Best Fins Fit — Zack Baun, Wisconsin

Baun, just like Vince Biegel and Andrew Van Ginkel before him, has the same traits that attracted Miami to the pair of Badger ‘Backers. Baun is the best of the three. He’s especially adept at executing games (stunts, twists, slants) because of his lateral agility.

He’s not the most fluid edge rusher, and isn’t going to line up in the wide alignment and win the corner, but he’s effective defending the pass as a flat and hook zone dropper. His rush move arsenal is already refined like that of a seasoned pro.

Projected Required Investment — Late-First, Early-Second, Pick 26 or 39

Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting On-Ball Linebacker

Biegel almost never left the field last season upon showing his worth across a variety of formations. Baun could do the same and give Miami a pair of consistent Badger backers off either edge, in what could be a linebacker-driven front-seven this year. Drafting Baun would certainly suggest that to be the case, with Van Ginkel serving as the sixth-man — so to speak — first off the bench.

Area of Intrigue This Week — Pit Drill

My apologies for a lack of variety between these trench players, but nothing beats the pit drill; nothing. This is an area Baun will probably excel because he’s such a refined technician, and he’ll draw some smaller school players and athletes that aren’t great football players just yet.

Keep an Eye On — Anfernee Jennings, Alabama

Jennings has the requisite measurements to intrigue the Dolphins before even flipping on the film. Then, once you see him play, you see him actively engage those long arms and thick frame to bully the man across from him. He’s extremely stout against the run with the heavy hands to shed blockers en route to the tackler.

Cal’s Evan Weaver lacks speed and rush ability, but he’s the most reliable downhill run defender in the entire draft. Joshua Uche has some versatility to his game. He played for current Dolphins Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile in college.

Defensive Backs

Damon Arnette (OSU), Essang Bassey (WAKE), Julian Blackmon (UTAH), Antoine Brooks Jr. (MAR), Terrell Burgess (UTAH), Jeremy Chinn (SoILL), Brian Cole (MISS ST), Ashtyn Davis (CAL), Kyle Duggar (Lenoir-Rhyne), Jalen Elliot (ND), Kristian Fulton (LSU), Alohi Gilman (ND), A.J. Green (OKST), Darnay Holmes (UCLA), Lamar Jackson (NEB), Dane Jackson (PITT), Brandon Jones (TEX), Jared Mayden (ALA), Josh Metellus (MICH), Michael Ojemudia (IOWA), Troy Pride Jr. (ND), Reggie Robinson (TULS), Kindle Vildor (GEO SO), K’Von Wallace (CLEM)

Best Fins Fit — Ashtyn Davis

There are a few defensive backs in this class that match the prototype for what Brian Flores looks for, and Davis is certainly that, but he has one thing most of the other guys don’t. The sheer passion and love for playing the game the correct way. Not to say the others don’t, but Davis is a temperature changer that immediately improves the work environment around him.

Davis is a former track star, so when he tests in Indianapolis, it’s possible he elevates his stock into the first round. Hopefully that’s not the case, and Miami can pick up a round-two steal with this do-it-all safety. He can play the single-high role, cover in the slot, and is more than willing to hit somebody much larger than himself.

Projected Required Investment — Day 2, Pick 39

Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Free Safety, Slot Corner

Davis‘ best trait is the paired combination of instincts and range. Because of that, he fits Miami’s press-man, single-high defense as well as anybody. He can also come down and cover the slot with the best of them — just the ideal defensive back for Brian Flores.

Area of Intrigue This Week — Live Team Period

Tackling hasn’t been the best trait for Davis in his collegiate career. It’s not that he’s not willing, he just lacks the size and frame to do it consistently. I want to see how he wraps and finishes in the live team periods when he has to come down and make a stick.

Keep an Eye On — Damon Arnette, Ohio State

Overlooked because of the presence of Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade in that Buckeye defensive backfield, Arnette took considerable strides this season in Columbus. He’s a long, aggressive press-corner that plays the ball exceptionally well.

Arnette will challenge every route at the three critical points — off the line, at the top of the stem, and at the catch point. He’s a sound tackler, but isn’t real interested in fighting off blocks. He’s more athletic than most players with his play-style which should bump his draft stock.

Utah’s Terrell Burgess is a good option in the middle rounds to play primary backup to Eric Rowe, and also serve as a core special teamer.

It would be quite a surprise if multiple players from this group don’t wind up with the Dolphins. There are so many potential scheme fits, and players that come from programs that stress the same core tenants that Miami’s system calls for. With all these Utah Utes, all these versatile defensive backs and multi-talented front-seven players, this is quite a week for Brian Flores and company.

@WingfieldNFL

Wednesday-Friday — Senior Bowl Practice Recaps

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