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 start with part-one of a two-part preview series — the offense.
Senior Bowl Offense
Anthony Gordon (WSU), Justin Herbert (ORE), Jalen Hurts (OK), Jordan Love (USU), Steven Montez (COL), Shea Patterson (MICH)
Best Fins Fit — Anthony Gordon, Washington State
Certainly not the premier player from this loaded bunch, Gordon’s upside makes him the ideal candidate for Miami to hedge a potential top-of-round-one pick at quarterback. Gordon has plus-athleticism for the position, and one of the liveliest arms in the entire class. He’s capable of throwing with pristine anticipation and doesn’t sacrifice velocity when he’s off-platform, or hasn’t completed each of the proverbial checkmarks from a mechanical delivery standpoint.
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) November 19, 2019
As a Washington State alum with Cougar Crimson blood pumping through my veins, I’d be remiss not to mention the reasons Gordon a Saturday pick. The inconsistencies in his decision making are problematic — if not baffling at times. He doesn’t lack confidence, and that results in some gorgeous balls, but he can put his offense in harm’s way with far too much regularity.
Projected Required Investment — Day 3 Pick, Rounds 4-6
Where He Fits on the Roster — Backup/Development Quarterback
The air raid is great for the amount of reps it affords young quarterbacks. Gordon spent a lot of time learning a timing and anticipation offense that operates primarily from empty sets. We could see a lot of those same formations in Miami under the new offensive direction.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Team Period Red Zone Work
When things are condensed, and the players are faster, how will Gordon operate in the tight spaces? He comes from a wide open offense, so growth throughout the week would be a terrific sign.
Keep an Eye On — Steven Montez, Colorado
Jalen Hurts’ omission will certainly ruffle some feathers, but the signs do not point towards Miami favoring a quarterback with major red flags as a passer. It would be foolish to omit Miami’s ability to build a scheme for Hurts, but a different direction makes more sense. Montez is big, with an arm to match, and can extend plays off-script.
Darius Anderson (TCU), Eno Benjamin (ASU), JaMycal Hasty (BAY), Joshua Kelly (UCLA), Zack Moss (UTAH), Lamical Perine (FLA), Ke’Shawn Vaughn (VAN)
Best Fins Fit — Zack Moss, Utah
Creating yardage was virtually the only hope for the running game last year in Miami — hence a 37-year-old quarterback leading the team in rushing. Kenyan Drake and Mark Walton were able to create yards behind this line, and Myles Gaskin late in the season to a lesser degree, but watching Kalen Ballage and Patrick Laird attempt the same was hard on the eyes.
Enter Zack Moss. Utah’s bell cow (1,804 YFS and 17 TD in 2019) might be the smartest runner in this class. Moss pairs exceptional patience, balance, and pitter-patter footwork behind the line-of-scrimmage to constantly change the angles on potential tacklers. His quick-but-not-in-a-hurry approach helps the line execute slower developing blocks (reaches, combos), and his best trait — he’s impossible to get to the turf with one single tackle.
Zack Moss is 5-10, 222 and I can't stop watching this dynamic cut. Look at how far outside his frame his plant foot catches so he can angle himself to attack the hole. Like seriously pause and slowly move the clip along between the 4 and 5 second mark to appreciate this. pic.twitter.com/R3U96u5uRM
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) December 11, 2019
There’s always a plan for the next defender as Moss sets up his moves beautifully. He’s fluid catching the football on the typical running back routes (swings, screens, flats and arrows).
Projected Required Investment — Day 2 Pick (Pick 56)
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Tailback
If Moss is handed an aqua jersey on draft day, it’s done so with the expectation that he will be the lead back. Miami could sign a veteran that makes for a 1a-1b situation, but using a premium resource on a back brings with it the expectation that said back will play, a lot.
Area of Intrigue This Week — 1-on-1 Pass Catching
This is always one of my favorite drills. Watching the way backs move in space, with a two-way go, is telling of their ability to create separation as flexed-out receivers. If Moss can nail the test in that regard in Mobile, then again at the combine, he’ll rocket up boards.
Keep an Eye On — Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
For his vision, instinctive nature, and hard-nosed running — Benjamin would be next behind Moss. He’s likely a late day-two or early day-three pick, knocked mostly because of poor pass catching.
Brandon Aiyuk (ASU), Chase Claypool (ND), Quartney Davis (TAM), Devin Duvernay (TEX), Bryan Edwards (SC), Antonio Gandy-Golden (LIB), Antonio Gibson (MEM), K.J. Hill (OSU), Van Jefferson (FLA), Jauan Jennings (TEN), Collin Johnson (TEX), Kalija Lipscomb (VAN), Denzel Mims (BAY), Michael Pittman JR (USC), James Proche (SMU)
Best Fins Fit — Devin Duvernay, Texas
Some of the other players in this group offer a little more wiggle off the line, and thus might be considered better options to play in the slot, but Duvernay has one trait that bursts off the tape — speed.
Remember when Devin Duvernay was snubbed from the major postseason awards?
His highlight reel tonight against Utah: pic.twitter.com/B7P1r58rk1
— Jake García (@Jake_M_Garcia) January 1, 2020
An electrifying fly-by receiver, Duvernay pairs world class track speed with a thick frame. That deadly combination makes him a difficult tackle once he secures the catch, but also a weapon for handoffs, pop passes, and a variety of short-game work to unlock his RAC abilities. Duvernay catches everything. He plucks the football away from his body with strong hands, helping to secure contested catches.
Projected Required Investment — Day 3, Round 4 Comp Pick (Ja’Wuan James)
Where He Fits on the Roster — Slot/Specialty Package Receiver
Albert Wilson currently fills this role, but it seems inconceivable that he is back at his current rate. If Miami can’t renegotiate Wilson’s contract, Duvernay could slide right into that role and compete with Isaiah Ford and Allen Hurns for reps.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Red Zone 1-on-1
Charged with hip tightness, Duvernay needs to work on his ability to release against press coverage. Although a lot of the routes he would run, from the desired alignments, would give him free access, every receiver needs to be able to beat press. These simulated situations will either expose or open eyes on Duvernay.
Keep an Eye On — Quartney Davis, Texas A&M
Davis is more Jarvis Landry-like than Duvernay, so an argument could be made for his value over the long-speed of the his in-state rival. He’s drawn comparisons to Deebo Samuel (Kyle Crabbs of TDN) for his body control, and industrious route running. Davis’ positional versatility in the Aggie offense will intrigue Miami.
Harrison Bryant (FAU), Josiah Deguara (CIN), Brycen Hopkins (PUR), Sean McKeon (MICH), Jared Pinkney (VAN), Stephen Sullivan (LSU), Charlie Taumoepeau (PORT), Adam Trautman (DAY)
Best Fins Fit — Adam Trautman, Dayton
Trautman isn’t the best blocker of this bunch — in fact that’s what will keep him from getting drafted early — but his pass catching upside is bordering on ludicrous. A former basketball player with limited football experience, Trautman is almost always bigger than his opponent, more explosive, and could factor in significantly as a bit of a chess piece.
🚨Cool play design alert🚨
Watching Dayton TE Adam Trautman (because @JimNagy_SB says to!)
Jet motion. Counter OF run action. But watch the wing TE (Trautman) then release upfield… Not sure I’ve seen this before pic.twitter.com/e15vPT5R7j
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) July 11, 2019
Projected Required Investment — Day 3, Rounds 4-6
Where He Fits on the Roster — Developmental Tight End, Joker Position
Chan Gailey’s resume comes with a variety of offensive approaches. In 2015, Gailey utilized Quincy Enunwa in the role that serves as a glorified slot receiver who can take end-arounds and catch shovels working against the grain on misdirection under the formation.
Trautman can get vertical with the best of them, but Dayton used him on a lot of shovels and quick-hitters that put him in space.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Functional Strength
There’s some Mike Gesicki in here in the sense that we know what he can do athletically, but the best way for Trautman to rise up boards comes via his ability to function as an in-line blocker. He has the frame to make it work, but it will only come with relentless repetition and technical refinement.
Keep an Eye On — Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati
Much more of a classic tight end, Deguara is well-rounded. He’s not going to test at the top of the class, but he takes great angles as an open-space blocker and does well to strike and reposition his hands in the run game. He’s a savvy route runner with feel for openings in zone, and leverage in man coverage.
Trey Adams (WASH), Hakeem Adeniji (KAN), Tremayne Anchrum (CLEM), Ben Bartch (STJ), Ben Bredeson (MICH), Lloyd Cushenberry (LSU), Nick Harris (WASH), Matt Hennessey (TEM), Justin Herron (WAKE), Robert Hunt (ULL), Keith Ismael (SDSU), Jonah Jackson (OSU), Josh Jones (HOU), Shane Lemieux (ORE), Damien Lewis (LSU), Colton McKivitz (WVU), Matt Peart (UCONN), Tyre Phillips (MISS ST), John Simpson (CLEM), Terence Steele (TT), Logan Stenberg (KEN), Alex Taylor (SCSU), Prince Tega Wanogho (AUB)
Best Fins Fit — Josh Jones, Houston
Never mind the fact that the additions were bottom-tier free agents, AAF products, or other players with less-than inspiring track records, Miami told us they prefer length, size, and athleticism at tackle last offseason.
Jones checks each of those boxes in emphatic fashion.
Really nice job by Josh Jones (Houston LT 74) positioning his lower body towards his inside gap. Follows through with great punch on the looper. Right hand gets underneath the shoulder pad and forces the looper off his path. This is nice. pic.twitter.com/LWlHDbR0aL
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) December 8, 2019
When Jones wins initially, the defender can wave the white flag. With an effective first strike, Jones engulfs the edge, which then allows him to reposition and adjust his angle accordingly. The length — and smooth feet — allow him to recover in pass protection when he does lose that initial hand fight.
The only thing keeping Jones from a top-15 selection is the lack of technical refinement in his game; he needs some work. Ideally, you get Jones at the top of round-two, but tackles are always pushed up the board; particularly in the back of the first round with that fifth-year option looming.
Projected Required Investment — 1st Round, Pick 26
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Left Tackle
Miami’s biggest need is left tackle. More so than the lack of a future franchise quarterback, complete vacancy of an edge rush, or defensive back help, the left tackle position killed more plays than any other for the Fins this year. Using a first round pick on Jones — or someone else — puts that player in the starting lineup the day Miami opens training camp.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Pit Drill
It’s always the pit drill. Outside of watching games as a fan, evaluating the pit drill is my unequivocal favorite element of the game. It’s a pad-smacking, agility and technical proficiency test to the nth-degree. Jones is certainly going to draw athletes unlike the players the America Conference supplied during his collegiate career. Given Jones’ athletic profile on tape, he should acquit himself just fine in this regard.
Keep an Eye On — Shane Lemieux, Oregon
Lemieux checks a lot of boxes for the types of interior lineman Miami coveted a year ago. Lemieux has a consecutive starts streak that spans four years and proves his reliability. He’s not going to be fooled by disguise from the rush games deployed by the opposition, and he is exceptional at catching and climbing on combination blocks in the run game.
Shane Lemieux is technical, composed in space, and plays with an imposing mean streak. Keep an eye on him this spring, Dolphins fans. pic.twitter.com/Ds5MSTY9Pt
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 24, 2019
It’s impossible to highlight the strengths, weaknesses, and potential scheme fit of each player in this game, but we’ll do our best to highlight more players on the podcast this week.
This year’s Senior Bowl has the makings of the deepest group that I personally have evaluated. A great crop of quarterbacks and depth on the offensive line will make the jobs of the skill players easier, though the defensive skill guys have the advantage in that regard.
The Dolphins will be all over this game given their perch as the pole-sitters of this year’s draft. Several of these players are likely to be in camp with Miami next July, so getting this first look and first impression will be an imperative step in shaping the future of the organization as we know it.
Wednesday-Friday: Practice Day 1-3 Reports
A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football
(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…
A Miami Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football
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…
The Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa seem destined to cross paths
Miami, Florida (Locked On Dolphins) – The writing on the wall is being inscribed as we speak. The message is coming into focus, and the case for Tua Tagovailoa in aqua and orange is becoming stronger.
If you would’ve asked me about it last week, I would’ve sung the same ol’ tune that’s been on the record player for the past eight months. Get Tua Tagovailoa.
It’s the plight of every directionless team that’s caught in a slow whirlpool circling the drain. But if you find the quarterback, then they’ll take you to the promised land. That’s the panacea for a lifeless, wayward franchise, right?
And it’s one thing to wish upon a shooting star hoping that the Dolphins can get that franchise guy, but it’s another to land that generational talent at the position.
And the Miami Dolphins might be catching a break.
Until now, that’s all it was, hoping and wishing.
But something’s different now.
Something manifested on Thursday, January 30 that initiated an intertwining of fates between the Miami Dolphins and Tagovailoa.
It was recognition.
It was a flash of a silver lining that could see the Miami Dolphins get their new franchise quarterback.
Let me paint the picture.
Early on Thursday, Super Bowl Live featured the Alabama quarterback in an interview. It’s not related to anything Super Bowl, but it was a way for draftniks and fans of terrible teams to get their draft-related fix as the 49ers and Chiefs get ready to beat each other up in Super Bowl LIV.
What’s important about the interview is that Tagovailoa cleared some murky waters on his rehab and participation in the draft process.
Talking with NFL Network’s Colleen Wolfe and Michael Robinson, Tagovailoa was unsurprisingly asked about his recovery after his hip dislocation last November.
“I feel very good. We’re on pace to make a full recovery,” Tagovailoa responded.
When asked about his participation in the draft process, namely, the Combine, Tagovailoa stated, “My main goal is not to win the 40, not to win the bench press, but to win my medical.”
“I’m going to go over there looking to win my medical and then go in and interview with the teams. That’s pretty much what I’m going to do. And then hopefully there’s a pro day down the line, either late March or early April.”
Tagovailoa’s prognosis is looking good as he works his way back, but that’s not the real meat and potatoes of the Miami Dolphins-Tua Tagovailoa connection.
Shortly after Tagovailoa’s interview, Andy Slater revealed a significant nugget regarding the quarterback’s draft selection.
Tua wants to get drafted by the Dolphins?
Tua’s father said “so do we.”
— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) January 30, 2020
That’s crystal clear, no reason to speculate.
There’s no need to flesh out the quote. It’s almost straight from the horse’s mouth.
And I’d like to let all the Dolphins fans stop and revel in those words, but there’s more.
The faction of Miami Dolphins who wanted Tua Tagovailoa all along might want to have a seat for this one.
Later on Thursday evening, Tagovailoa’s agent, Leigh Steinberg, shot out a bombastic bon mot at the Bengals’ expense to fortify a certain idea: Tua Tagovailoa and his family want the Dolphins to draft him.
The two quotes feed off of each other. Not only does Tagovailoa’s father want the Dolphins to select his son, but Steinberg also makes it sound like stakeholders don’t want him to be taken by Cincinnati.
“You want to make sure that your client ends up with a good organization….I’m hoping Cinncy falls in love with Joe Burrow".
— 97.3 ESPN FM (@973espn) January 30, 2020
They’re just snippets, quotes, and nuggets at this point, but they’re all little bellwethers pointing toward the epicenter of a Tua Tagovailoa-Miami Dolphins collision course.
Buckle up. The two trains will intersect in just a few months.
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