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What Can We Learn from Miami’s Pre-Draft Meeting History?

Travis Wingfield

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Job interviews are stressful; particularly when they proceed over the course of a four-month period. Once a player declares himself eligible for the NFL’s Annual Selection Meeting it’s a grueling grind up until that triumphant moment when the player his name is finally.

The process includes multiple physical tests putting the player’s athletic prowess and conditioning to the test. It’s the mental strain, however, that might prove most challenging as the prospect will meet with roughly half of the league’s teams. Those meetings feature intense sessions testing a wide range of intellect and social maturity.

Keeping tabs on these meetings is difficult. For every reported meeting there are likely three more instances where a player talks with a team off the record. From Saturdays in the fall, to the 30 official visits granted by the league, the Dolphins will vet somewhere between 300-500 players during this innumerable process.

Going as far back as Chris Grier’s promotion to General Manager, I have gathered the data on players that met with Miami in an official capacity, and which of those players wound up on Miami’s roster.

The sources for this project are scattered. Walter Football was the primary source, with our own Kevin Dern’s sheet incorporated, and our own due diligence. We’ll start with 2016.

Dolphins 2016 Reported Draft Meetings:

Position / Player School
QB Paxton Lynch Memphis
QB Connor Cook Michigan State
QB Jake Ruddock Michigan
QB Brandon Doughty Western Kentucky
RB Devontae Booker Utah
RB Ezekiel Elliot Ohio State
RB Travis Greene Bowling Green
RB Kenyan Drake Alabama
RB Chris Swain Navy
WR Laquon Treadwell Ole Miss
WR Herb Waters Miami
WR Leonte Carroo Rutgers
WR Daniel Braverman Western Michigan
WR Rashawn Scott Miami
WR Devin Fuller UCLA
WR Robby Anderson Temple
TE Austin Hooper Stanford
iOL Vadal Alexander LSU
iOL Spencer Drango Baylor
iOL Joshua Garnett Stanford
iOL Ted Karras Illinois
iOL Jack Allen Michigan State
iOL Isaac Seumalo Oregon State
OT Germain Ifedi Texas A&M
OT Shone Coleman Auburn
OT Brandon Shell South Carolina
OT Keith Lumpkin Rutgers
OT Rees Odhiambo Boise State
DE Ryan Brown Mississippi State
DE DeForest Buckner Oregon
DE Kevin Dodd Clemson
DE Noah Spence Eastern Kentucky
DE Shilique Calhon Michigan State
DE Shaq Lawson Clemson
DE Emmanuel Ogbah Oklahoma State
DT Vernon Butler LA Tech
DT Trevon Coley FAU
DT Quinton Jefferson Maryland
DT Ufomba Kamalu Miami
DT Greg Milhouse Jr. Campbell
LB Myles Jack UCLA
LB Beniquez Brown Mississippi State
LB Su’a Cravens USC
LB Jordan Jenins Georgia
LB Joe Walker Oregon
LB Deion Jones LSU
LB Dadi Nicolas Virginia Tech
LB Anthony Sarao USC
CB Mackensie Alenxander Clemson
CB William Jackson Houston
CB Eli Apple Ohio State
CB Xavien Howard Baylor
CB James Bradberry Samford
CB Brien Boddy-Calhoun Minnesota
CB Lloyd Carrington Arizona State
CB Richard Leonard FIU
CB Ryan Smith NC State
S Deon Bush Miami
S Kevin Byard Middle Tennessee
S Sean Davis Maryland

 

A pair of third-round picks (Drake, Carroo), a second-rounder (Howard), a seventh-rounder (Doughty) and an undrafted free agent (Scott) went from pre-draft visit to donning the aqua and orange.

Laremy Tunsil never had an official meeting — probably because he was a presumed top-five pick prior to the infamous bong mask.

Jakeem Grant, Jordan Lucas, and Thomas Duarte never met with the ‘Phins but were each picks in rounds 6-7.

The Dolphins traded up for Xavien Howard in the second round and did the same with Leonte Carroo in the third.

Scott was the only one of the 12 UDFA signings that met with Miami pre-draft.

Dolphins 2017 Reported Draft Meetings:

Position/Player School
QB Chad Kelly Ole Miss
QB Brad Kaaya Miami
QB Alex Torgersen Penn
RB Brandon Ratcliff Louisville
RB Shane Smith San Jose State
RB Shaquille Cooper Fort Hayes State
RB Jakhari Gore FIU
WR Ryan Switzer North Carolina
WR Mack Hollins North Carolina
WR Travis Rudolph Florida State
WR Dede Westbrook Oklahoma
WR Trent Taylor LSU
WR Teldrick Morgan Maryland
WR Derrick Griffin Texas Southern
WR Josh Malone Tennessee
WR Damore’ea Stringfellow Mississippi State
WR Stacey Coley Miami
WR Nicholas Norris Connecticut
WR Malcolm Lewis Miami
WR Jesus Wilson Florida State
WR JoJo Natson Akron
TE OJ Howard Alabama
TE David Njoku Miami
TE Darrell Daniels Washington
TE Jonnu Smith FIU
TE Andrew Avgi Western Oregon
TE Evan Engram Ole Miss
TE Michael Roberts Toledo
TE Anthony Auclair Laval
iOL Dan Feeney Indiana
iOL Forrest Lamp Western Kentucky
iOL Isaac Asiata Utah
iOL Danny Isadora Miami
iOL Chris Muller Rutgers
iOL Ethan Pocic LSU
iOL Kyler Fuller Baylor
iOL Barrett Gouger Vanderbilt
OT Sami Tevi Utah
OT Dan Skipper Arkansas
OT Taylor Moton Western Michigan
DE Taco Charlton Michigan
DE Daeshon Hall Texas A&M
DE Jordan Willis Kansas State
DE Avery Moss Youngstown
DE Trey Hendrickson FAU
DE Charles Harris Missouri
DE Bryan Cox Jr. Florida
DE Dietrich Wise Arkansas
DT Jonathan Allen Alabam
DT Malik McDowell Michigan State
DT Chris Wormley Michigan
DT Eddie Vanderdoes UCLA
DT Charles Walker Oklahoma
DT Stevie Tu’ikolovatu USC
DT Josh Banks Wake Forrest
DT Averee Robinson Temple
DT Pat Richard Maine
DE Samson Kafovalu Colorado
DT Winston Craig Richmond
DT Monty Nelson North Carolina State
LB Tyus Bowser Houston
LB Haason Reddick Temple
LB TJ Watt Wisconsin
LB Raekwon McMillan Ohio State
LB Alex Anzalone Florida
LB Jarrad Davis Florida
LB Dylan Cole Missouri State
LB Anthony Walker Northwestern
LB Elijiah Lee Kansas State
LB Vince Biegel Wisconsin
LB Jordan Herdman South Florida
LB Praise Martin-Oguike Temple
LB Chase Allen Southern Illinois
LB Carroll Phillips Illinois
CB Kevin King Washington
CB Jalen Tabor Florida
CB Gareon Conley Ohio State
CB Chidobe Awuzie Colorado
CB Fabian Moreau UCLA
CB William Likely Maryland
CB Corn Elder Miami
CB Josh Green Connecticut
CB Desmond King Iowa
CB Adrian Colbert Miami
CB Howard Wilson Houston
CB Jhavon Williams UCONN
CB Shaquill Griffin UCF
S Jabril Peppers Michigan
S Obi Melifonwu UCONN
S Josh Jones NC State
S David Jones Richmond
S Justin Evans Texas A&M
S Marcus Maye Florida
S Rudy Ford Auburn
S Orion Stewart Baylor
S Jamaal Carter Miami
S Marcus Williams Utah
S Tyson Graham South Dakota
S A.J. Leggett West Georgia

 

Miami lands six players from its 2017 prospect meets list. This time the Dolphins’ first-rounder (Harris) was a pre-draft visit; just as were the second-rounder (McMillan), fifth-rounder (Asiata), and three UDFAs (Lewis, Stringfellow, Allen).

Two of Miami’s best picks from this class (fifth and sixth-round DTs Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor) did not meet with the Dolphins prior to the draft.

Third-round pick Cordrea Tankersley and seventh-round pick Isaiah Ford did not meet with Miami prior to the draft.

Referring back to 2016’s focus on positions of need, Miami entered this draft with a glaring hole at defensive tackle opposite Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins hosted 12 DT prospects but went with two that weren’t on that list.

The search for Xavien Howard’s running mate was a priority as the team likely knew Byron Maxwell wasn’t long for the team, while the endless search to find a counter-part for Reshad Jones continued at safety (to fill in for T.J. McDonald during his eight-game suspension).

Miami’s most interesting player visits came at wide receiver. With 14 players in-tow, despite emergence from Devante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and a resurgence from Kenny Stills, Miami’s specific visits were telling regarding Landry’s long-term future. Switzer and Taylor were two of the purest slot options in the entire class.

Dolphins 2018 Reported Draft Visits:

Position/Player School
QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma
QB Alex McGough FIU
QB Josh Allen Wyoming
QB Josh Rosen UCLA
QB Kurt Benkert Virginia
QB Lamar Jackson Louisville
QB Luke Falk Washington State
QB Mason Rudolph Oklahoma State
RB Sony Michel Georgia
RB Rashad Penny San Diego State
RB Ralph Webb Vanderbilt
RB Mark Walton Miami
RB Kalen Ballage Arizona State
RB Ito Smith Southern Miss
WR Brandon Shed Hobart
WR Calvin Ridley Alabama
WR DaeSean Hamilton Penn State
WR Javon Wims Georgia
WR Jeff Badet Oklahoma
WR Quan Jones Baylor
WR Saeed Blacknail Penn State
TE Chris Herndon Miami
TE Dallas Goedert South Dakota State
TE Hayden Hurst South Carolina
TE Troy Fumagalli Wisconsin
OT Kolton Miller UCLA
OT Mike McGlinchey Notre Dame
OT Nick Gates Nebraska
OT Rick Leonard Florida State
OG Braden Smith Auburn
OG Skyler Philips Idaho State
DE James Crawford Illinois
DE Javon Rolland-Jones Arkansas State
DE Marcell Frazier Missouri
DT Christian LaCouture LSU
DT Josh Banks Wake Forest
DT Joshua Frazier Alabama
DT Kendrick Norton Miami
DT PJ Hall Sam Houston
DT Rashad McIntosh Miami
DT Vita Vea Washington
LB Bobby Jones Northern Illinois
LB Darius Leonard South Carolina State
LB Fred Warner BYU
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley Purdue
LB Kendall Donnerson Southeast Missouri State
LB Matthew Thomas Florida State
LB Oren Burks Vanderbilt
LB Quentin Poling Ohio
LB Osband Thompson Tuskegee
LB Roquan Smith Georgia
LB Rashaan Evans Alabama
LB Skai Moore South Carolina
LB Trayvon Williams Georgia Southern
LB Uchenna Nwosu USC
CB Chris Lammons South Carolina State
CB Denzel Ward Ohio State
CB Devron Davis UTSA
CB D’Montre Wade Murray State
CB Jonathan Owens Missouri Western
CB Joshua Jackson Iowa
CB Terrell Bonds Tennessee State
CB Tony Brown Alabama
S Trayvon Henderson Hawaii
S Justin Reid Stanford
S Damon Webb Ohio State
S De’Andre Coley Arkansas
S David Jones Richmond

 

Miami drafted only two of the players of their visits list (Kalen Ballage and Quentin Poling). The Dolphins even met with a pair of kickers, neither of which was seventh-round pick Jason Sanders.

Luke Falk and Kendrick Norton wound up on Miami’s roster, but both made stops in separate NFL cities before winding up in South Florida.

The resources dedicated to the linebacker position was the most interesting portion of this story – aside from the quarterbacks. Miami met with 14 linebackers, literally all of the first round prospects at the position, and came away with Jerome Baker in the third-round (not on their list of meetings) and Quentin Poling in the seventh-round.

Miami had the option to draft Lamar Jackson and probably could’ve been more aggressive in pursuing Josh Rosen, but chose to side out on both.

The tight end decision also bears pondering as Miami did not meet with Mike Gesicki, but did have a private workout with Dallas Goedert. Goedert went one pick after Gesicki went off the board to the Dolphins.

Not a single one of Miami’s UDFAs, in 2018, met with Miami prior to the draft.

Draft Date Since 2016 (Chris Grier at GM)

Year Draft Picks Picks from Visits List UDFAs from Visits List Total Players from Visits List
2018 8 2 0 2
2017 7 3 3 6
2016 8 4 1 5
Total 23 8 4 13

 

The rounds of those picks from the visits list is as follows:

 

Round Number of Players from Visits List Selected Since 2016
1 1
2 2
3 2
4 1
5 5
6 0
7 2

 

The biggest takeaway from this study is Miami’s propensity to meet with a lot of players at presumed positions of need. Under Chris Grier, the Dolphins will essentially tell you which position they intend to attack based on the reported visits. By the same token, there appears to be some false flags in the mix as we saw with the 2018 quarterback class.

Here are Miami’s 2019 reported visits:

QB Kyler Murray – Oklahoma
QB Dwayne Haskins – Ohio State
QB Drew Lock – Missouri
QB Daniel Jones – Duke
QB Jarrett Stidham – Auburn
QB Will Grier – West Virginia
QB Brett Rypien – Boise State
QB Jordan Ta’amu – Ole Miss
QB Tyree Jackson – Buffalo
QB Easton Stick – North Dakota State
QB Taylor Cornelius – Oklahoma State
QB Jalen McClendon – Baylor
QB Taryn Christion – South Dakota State
RB Josh Jacobs – Alabama
RB David Montgomery – Iowa State
RB Darrell Henderson – Memphis
RB Elijah Holyfield – Georgia
RB Devine Ozigbo – Nebraska
RB Devin Singletary – Florida Atlantic
RB Tyrone Gray – Miami (local)
RB Travis Homer – Miami (local)
RB Nico Evans – Wyoming
FB Alec Ingold – Wisconsin (30 visit)
FB Rob Ritrovato – Temple
WR Riley Ridley – Georgia
WR Andy Isabella – UMass
WR Emmanuel Hall – Missouri
WR Johnnie Dixon – Ohio State (30 visit)(local)
WR Justin Hobbs – Tulsa
WR Darrell Langham – Miami (local)
WR Juston Christian – Marist
WR Gary Jennings – West Virginia (30 visit)
WR Trenton Irwin – Stanford (30 visit)
WR Marquise Brown – Oklahoma
WR Nyquan Murray – Florida State
TE Kendall Blanton – Missouri
TE Kahale Warring – San Diego State
TE Ravian Pierce – Syracuse (local)
TE Dax Raymond – Utah State
TE Charles Scarff – Delaware
TE Andrew Beck – Texas
TE Trevon Wesco – West Virginia (30 visit)
OT Jawaan Taylor – Florida (30 visit)
OT Andre Dillard – Washington State
OT Koda Martin – Syracuse
OT Aaron Monteiro – Boston College
OT Chidi Okeke – Tennessee State
OT Ryan Pope – San Diego State
OT Max Scharping – Northern Illinois
OT Brandon Hitner – Villanova
OT Jonah Williams – Alabama
OT Yodney Cajuste – West Virginia (30 visit)
OT Tyree St. Louis – Miami (local)
OT Patrick Mekari – Cal (30 visit)
OT Greg Little – Mississippi
OT Oli Udoh – Elon
OG Dru Samia – Oklahoma
OG Chris Lindstrom – Boston College
OG Tyler Bowling – Tulsa
OG Phil Haynes – Wake Forest
OG Bunchy Stallings – Kentucky
OG Louie Csaszar – Villanova
OG Venzell Boulware – Miami (local)
OG Micah Kapoi – Wisconsin
OG Nate Davis – Charlotte
OG Fred Johnson – Florida
OC Chris Gaynor – TCU
OC Lamont Gaillard – Georgia
OC Ryan Anderson – Wake Forest
OC Tyler Gauthier – Miami (local)
OC Nate Trewyn – Wisconsin-Whitewater
DE Nick Bosa – Ohio State
DE Montez Sweat – Mississippi State (30 visit)
DE Jachai Polite – Florida
DE Jaylon Ferguson – Lousiana Tech (30 visit)
DE Charles Omenihu – Texas
DE L.J. Collier – TCU (30 Visit)
DE Zach Allen – Boston College
DE Jordan Brailford – Oklahoma State
DE Immanuel Turner – Louisiana Tech
DE Chase Winovich – Michigan
DE Jalen Jelks – Oregon (30 visit)
DE Oshane Ximines – Old Dominion (30 visit)
DE Maxx Crosby – Eastern Michigan (30 visit)
DE Rashan Gary – Michigan
DE Clelin Ferrell – Clemson
DT Quinnen Williams – Alabama
DT Ed Oliver – Houston
DT Dexter Lawrence – Clemson
DT Jerry Tillery – Notre Dame
DT Armon Watts – Arkansas
DT Terry Breckner – Missouri
DT Jordan Bradford – Louisiana Tech
DT Albert Huggins – Clemson
DT Michael Dogbe – Temple
DT Trysten Hill – UCF (30 visit)
DT Fred Jones – Florida State (local)
DT Gerald Willis – Miami (local)
DT Khairi Clark – Florida (local)
DT Olive Sagapolu – Wisconsin
DT Jeffrey Simmons – Mississippi State (30 visit)
DT Davier Edwards – Colorado
LB Justin Hollins – Oregon (30 visit)
LB Ben Banogu – TCU
LB Sione Takitaki – BYU (30 visit)
LB Joe Dineen – Kansas
LB Mike Smith – Miami (local)
LB Sutton Smith – Northern Illinois
LB Tyree Horton – Grand Valley State (local)
LB Gary Johnson – Texas
LB Ty Summers – TCU
LB Tre Watson – Maryland (30 visit)
LB Te’von Coney – Notre Dame
LB Terrill Hanks – New Mexico State (30 visit)
LB Kaden Elliss – Idaho (30 visit)
LB Jahlani Tavai – Hawaii (30 visit)
LB D’Andre Walker – Georgia
LB Devin Bush – Michigan (30 visit)
LB Ricky Neal Jr. – Northern Iowa
CB Byron Murphy – Washington
CB Greedy Williams – LSU
CB Rock Ya-Sin – Temple
CB Blace Brown – Troy
CB Derrick Baity – Kentucky
CB Ka’dar Hollman – Toledo (30 visit)
CB Sean Bunting – Central Michigan
CB Xavier Crawford – Central Michigan
CB Jhavonte Dean – Miami (local)
CB Montre Hartage – Northwestern
CB Donnie Lewis Jr. – Tulane (30 visit)
CB Julian Love – Notre Dame
CB Trayvon Mullen – Clemson (30 visit)
CB Rishard Causey – UCF (local)
CB Jimmy Moreland – James Madison (30 visit)
CB Isaiah Johnson – Houston
CB Deandre Baker – Georgia
CB Jamel Dean – Auburn (30 visit)
CB Derrek Thomas – Baylor
CB Iman Marshall – USC
DS Tyree Kinnel – Michigan
DS Mike Edwards – Kentucky
DS Sheldrick Redwine – Miami (local)
DS Jaquan Johnson – Miami (local)
DS John Battle – LSU (local)
DS Robbie Grimsley – North Dakota State
DS Juan Thornhill – Virginia
DS Corrion Ballard – Utah

This could shape up to be a very defensive-heavy draft based on that list. The offensive line is curiously underrepresented while the running backs, receivers, and tight ends are almost completely vacant.

We are just two days away, ‘Phins fans. Buckle up — the NFL’s best weekend of the offseason is upon us and we’ll have you covered every step of the way at Locked On Dolphins.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Setting the Edge: Miami’s New Additions Up Front

Kevin Dern

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It’s no secret that Miami’s defense was bad last year. The Dolphins ranked 32nd in the league in points allowed, mostly due to giving up 102 points in the first two games alone. Their run defense, which was an eyesore under Vance Joseph and Matt Burke during the Adam Gase tenure remained problematic in Brian Flores’s first year. Miami gave up 135.4 yards per game, 27th in the league, and 4.2 yards per carry, 22nd in the league. Not good.

Miami’s pass defense wasn’t sterling by any means. Injuries to Xavien Howard, Reshad Jones and Bobby McCain hurt. Trading away Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t help. But I think we all can appreciate that Miami’s passing defense progressed throughout the year despite having to field a secondary that consisted of: Eric Rowe playing two positions, Nik Needham, Ryan Lewis, Ken Webster, Tae Hayes, Nate Brooks, Adrian Colbert, Walt Aikens, and Montre Hartage at various points.

The Dolphins will have a hopefully healthy Xavien Howard and Bobby McCain back. They signed the premier free agent corner in Byron Jones, drafted Noah Igbinoghene in the first round and drafted Brandon Jones in the third. They also signed safeties Clayton Fejedelem and Kavon Frazier, who have some starting experience in the past with Cincinnati and Dallas respectively. Things are pointing up more solidly in the back end of the defense.

But what about the additions to the front?

The interior players from last season remain largely intact with Davon Godchaux, Christian Wilkins, Jerome Baker, and Raekwon McMillan all returning. Zach Sieler only played in three games but looks promising and his Week 16 performance against the Bengals was arguably the best game for a Miami defensive lineman since Cameron Wake was still on the roster. Kyle Van Noy will likely play a good chunk of his snaps off the ball, as he did under Brian Flores in 2018. Elandon Roberts will at the very least be good depth up the middle.

And the edges of the defense?

First, I think it’s important to distinguish that Miami uses both defensive ends and outside linebackers as edge defenders in different formations. So, to label them all as EDGE players, as seems to be common practice these days, is a bit misleading as it relates to the Dolphins defense. My purpose for this article is to breakdown how the Dolphins got better on the edges this offseason and what we can expect from them in 2020.  Here’s whose on the roster right now:

Defensive Ends
Shaq Lawson
Avery Moss
Emmanuel Ogbah
Jason Strowbridge
Curtis Weaver

*Emmanuel Ogbah, Jason Strowbridge and Shaq Lawson all can play tighter techniques to the ball when called upon (ex: 3, 4i, 4 and in some cases 0).

Outside Linebackers
Vince Biegel
Trent Harris
Andrew Van Ginkel
Kyle Van Noy

*Kyle Van Noy will very likely see snaps off-the-ball as a traditional ILB in addition to edge reps as an OLB. Biegel and Van Ginkel will also get snaps as stand-up DEs (ex: standup 5 or 6 tech in a 3-3-5 Bear front)

If you’ve read my articles on LockedOn before, you’ll know that I believe we’ll see Brian Flores defense really take shape this year. When Flores ran the Patriots defense in 2018, his most used formations were the 4-2-5 (307 snaps), 3-3-5 (226 snaps), 3-2-6 (132 snaps), and 4-3 (97 snaps). Last year’s use of the 3-4 I think was more built out of necessity. Miami’s edge players were bad at setting the edge, and with their ever-changing personnel I think Patrick Graham used more 3-4 looks because it was easier to coordinate. I think this year, with the improved personnel, we’ll see more of what Brian Flores was running in New England in 2018.

One note to consider is that prior to the bye week, we saw more examples of the 4-2-5 and 3-3-5 formations, often with the same personnel. Below are several screenshots from Miami’s games in Weeks 1-3.

Standard 4-2-5
DL:  Moss, Godchaux, Wilkins Harris
LB:  Baker, Eguavoen

3-3-5 formation with 4-2-5 personnel
D-line: Moss, Godchaux, Wilkins, Charlton (OLB)
LBs: Baker, Eguavoen

3-2-6 formation with three DEs (Ruby)
D-line: Biegel, C. Harris, Moss
LBs: Baker, Eguavoen

4-3 Over
D-line: Moss, Wilkins, Godchaux, C. Harris
LBs: Eguavoen, McMillan, Baker

* Note Miami will play under and even looks out of 4-3 personnel.

Let’s get one thing straight. Miami’s defense is very multiple. They will play these formations with non-traditional personnel. For example, if we go back to 2018 when Brian Flores was calling the Patriots Defense, watch their Sunday Night Game against the Packers. New England opens that game with 4-2-5 personnel but using three DEs in the grouping. They used Trey Flowers as a 3-technique on 1st and 2nd downs that drive. Miami will do similar things, for instance, they had Taco Charlton line up as an OLB in their 3-3-5 look seen above.

My gut feeling is that this year, Miami’s defense will more closely resemble the 2018 Patriots in terms of what they deploy, both in formations and in personnel packages, than it will resemble anything Miami ran last year post-bye week.

For a more in-depth look at that, I’ll reference you to this piece I wrote in February of 2019 shortly after Brian Flores was hired. Inside the Film Room.

The remainder of this piece will cover the following additions Miami made this offseason and how they will fit: Emmanuel Ogbah, Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy, Jason Strowbridge, and Curtis Weaver.

As a whole, this group should give Miami much improve ability up front on the edges of the defense. Primarily, Ogbah, Lawson, Van Noy and Strowbridge should provide an immediate shot in the arm for the run defense. The first three and Curtis Weaver should all prove to be better pass-rushers than anyone Miami deployed on the edge last year, be it a DE or OLB.

Emmanuel Ogbah
First things first about Ogbah. He’s big. And he’s long. At 6’4” 275lbs he’s got 35.5” arms and 10” hands. He’s got power and some explosiveness – 35.5” vert and 121” broad jumps. These are things to note about him. Ogbah was having a really nice year with the Chiefs notching 5.5 sacks before an injury cut short his 2019 campaign. He uses that length and power really well to set the edge against the run, and those long arms have come in handy as he’s got 20 career deflected passes.

In this first clip, you’ll see Ogbah (#90) at LDE for the Chiefs. His play recognition here is excellent as he feels the tackle release to setup for a screen. Ogbah slows his rush immediately and looks to get into the pass lane. The Jaguars had a double screen called and Foles goes the opposite way.

Clip number two shows Ogbah’s ability to affect the passing lanes. His rush against Ronnie Stanley seems a bit off, and I think this may have been a game-planned spy attempt as the Chiefs blitz a corner from that side. If it’s not, then Ogbah has good recognition to stop his rush and drop into the passing lane and get his hands up to deflect Lamar Jackson’s pass for an incompletion.

Against the Packers, Ogbah showcases his length and speed in this pass-rush. He uses his long arms well to engage Bryan Bulaga in a bull-rush move. He’s able to start to turn the corner and executes a rip move to free himself and sack Aaron Rodgers.

In our final clip of Emmanuel Ogbah, we’ll see him against the Vikings. Here he’s able to set a hard edge against LT Riley Rieff and he’s able to get upfield enough to force Dalvin Cook to cut inside into traffic where he’s stopped for a short gain.

Overall, Ogbah’s a guy that is going to set a hard edge and has some pass-rush ability. While I get that Dolfans may be upset that 91 isn’t “retired” the way 54 and 99 are, I think it’s fitting as he’ll be deployed like how the Patriots deployed their #91 Deatrich Wise. Ogbah can play on the edge all three downs. He’s long enough and strong enough to play tighter techniques inside. There are a number of reps of him at a 4i-technique being able to stop the run. It wouldn’t surprise me if Miami tries to utilize him as an inside rusher on 3rd downs, much like the Patriots did with Wise. The plus for Ogbah is that he’s a better athlete. He’ll be able to collect some wins as a pass-rusher from 6, 7 and 9 technique looks on 1st and 2nd downs in addition to setting the edge against the run.

Shaq Lawson
Another player coached by Marion Hobby here. Shaq is a player that’s had an odd start to his career. Drafted by the Rex Ryan coached Bills, he wasn’t a super scheme fit there and dealt with some injuries. Starting only 17 career games, none in 2019, Lawson carved out a nice niche for himself in the rotation-happy Bills D-line last year. My thought is that he is going to get opportunities to replicate some of the looks that Trey Flowers did for the Patriots and continues to be put in with the Lions, coached by Matt Patricia, who runs another Patriot-styled scheme.

Our first clip of Shaq is against the Dolphins in Week 11. He’s going to be lined up outside RT Jesse Davis in what you’d call a wide-5 technique. Lawson’s a bit slow off the snap, but he’s able to make himself small and is able to cross Jesse Davis’s face with a quick swipe move and makes a tackle for no gain.

The second clip isn’t necessarily a great pass-rush rep, but the reason I want to showcase it is because of where Lawson’s aligned. He’s in a 3-technique look against RG Evan Boehm. Lawson does a nice job hand-fighting with Boehm, eventually getting free inside despite giving up more than 50lbs to Boehm. This is important because Miami incorporates a lot of the 3-3-5 looks and 3-2-6 looks in passing situations that necessitate DEs being able to play inside. A lot of the pass-rush games, which we’ll see when I talk about Kyle Van Noy, come from a wider edge player coming around into the backside A or B gap. Lawson’s ability to get push in the pocket here is key in executing those games, and in this rep he’s able to get in Fitzpatrick’s face to help force an incompletion.

We’ll move to Buffalo’s week 12 matchup against the Broncos for our next rep. Part of the pass-rush games that is so important in this defense it the ability for players to be able to rush inside and get into A and B gaps. Here Lawson is lined up in a 4-technique over Broncos LT Garrett Boles. He gets a good jump on the snap and is able to cross into the backside A gap, beating the LG across his face to get middle pressure and a sack against Brandon Allen.

Our final clip of Shaq Lawson comes from the Bills vs. Patriots Game in Week 16. You probably already know what it is. Lawson’s lined up in a 5-technique and reads the fake jet sweep play and is able to stop Sony Michel for a big loss. He’s able to fight inside of the double-team block by the LT and WR from a nasty split. This shows Lawson’s get-off and is play recognition skill. He makes a great play tracking this down from inside. At worst, even if he misses the tackle, he’s mucked the play long enough for the CB to be able to force this back inside where it’s going to get a very minimal gain if anything.

Overall, I think Emmanuel Ogbah might end up being the better of the two DEs signed for Miami. Especially at the start. But I think there’s more to unlock with Shaq Lawson. If Marion Hobby can get him to work on his explosiveness of the snap and getting that more consistent, that will go a long way toward helping him. He’s a strong end capable of lining up in tight techniques like 3, 4i and 4. He’s shown ability to rush interior gaps, and that ability may lend itself to doing some, let’s say unique, things that Trey Flowers got to do with the Patriots, like playing a 0-technique in some of their LB heavy nickel looks and in their “playground”/radar defense. While I’m not sure Lawson will get looks like that off the bat, I think that’s something feasible down the road a bit if he can make his get-off more consistent and continue to develop his hand fighting abilities.

Kyle Van Noy
The Dolphins had to, HAD TO get better on the edges of the defense. Case in point they signed two DEs and drafted two more. Brian Flores spoke after the Draft about how players not filling the stat sheet doesn’t mean they had a bad game.  I believe that was in reference to Miami drafting Raekwon Davis. But it could be applied to Kyle Van Noy.

Van Noy may be the most important free agent signing and his impact will likely be rivaled only by Byron Jones for the hidden benefits they bring to the defense.  Why do I say this? It’s because of the many different things Brian Flores and Josh Boyer will be able to do on defense because of Van Noy.

First, he’s able to play ILB, and play it quite well. He can do this in 4-2-5 looks where he’s paired with someone. He can do it in 3-3-5 looks where he’s the guy.

Here you can see him lined up behind Adam Butler in a 3-3-5 look. The interesting thing to note here is that the Patriots had 4-2-5 personnel on the field with Deatrich Wise, Butler and Adrian Clayborn up front. They used Trey Flowers as an OLB in this look opposite Dont’a Hightower.

You want him to rush off the edge? No problem. Here in this GIF you can see the Patriots “playground” defense. Van Noy will be on the left side and rushes outside the left tackle.

In this clip against Dallas from 2019, we’ll see the Patriots in a 2-4-5 look (which is a 4-man front, but with OLBs instead of DEs. Miami rain this a lot against Philly and in Week 17 against the Patriots last year). Jason Witten shifts over to Van Noy’s side and Kyle is able use his arms, get extension and maintain good leverage to set the edge and help with the tackle as other defenders arrive to make the stop. Textbook!

Going back in time to 2018 against the Vikings, I want to give you two plays that were back-to-back in the game. First, we see Van Noy lined up over the RT. At the snap he’s going to drop into the short middle and read Kirk Cousins. He follows Cousins’ eyes to TE Kyle Rudolph and Van Noy just sits down in the zone right in front of him and Adam Butler gets a sack. That’s a hidden play there because Rudolph was open until Van Noy flowed that way.

But the real treat to Van Noy’s game is his prowess with pass-rush games. This is the very next play. The Patriots are in their 3-2-6 look, Diamond, but have RE Adrian Clayborn lined up head-up on TE Kyle Rudolph, whose got a short split. Clayborn helps reroute him at the snap then rushes (something we could see Ogbah and Lawson do?). But watch Van Noy here. He’s going to be lined up off-ball over the Vikings RT. He feints a rush upfield, stops and then loops around to the backside A gap. Adam Butler and Dont’a Hightower crash towards the strongside to effectively set “picks” (Ogbah, Lawson, Raekwon Davis, Wilkins) to allow Van Noy the free run at Cousins. Van Noy unloads on him and forces an incompletion.

He doesn’t notch a tackle, sack or pass deflection. Merely a pressure here. But his ability do run these pass-rush games is OUTSTANDING. Watch the 2018 AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl victories.

Want one more? Okay, fine you’ve got me! This is in the Super Bowl victory over the Rams on a 3rd down in the first half. The Patriots are lined up in a 4-2-5 look, their marble concept (DB inserted over the nasty split or TE) and Van Noy is the MLB. He simply sits in the underneath zone and takes away two different receivers – almost like a spy. Then Jared Goff scrambles and Van Noy explodes to chase him down for a 14 yard loss on a sack!

I expect Kyle Van Noy to be featured in multiple roles in this defense. Remember the picture of Miami’s 4-2-5 look way at the beginning? He can play either LB spot in that look – outside where Eguavoen is or as the MLB where Jerome Baker is. He can play ILB in 3-3-5 looks. He can set the edge as an OLB in 2-4-5 looks. You can use him in all manner of ways in pass-rush games. And regardless of where he plays, he’s very smart! You’re going to get good reps out of him. Knowing this system already will likely propel him into a leadership role on the defense, which in my view, will help younger guys like Jerome Baker, Raekwon McMillan and Andrew Van Ginkel. He can make sure they’re on top of their alignments and assignments and give them a living, breathing example of what it means to be a smart, tough and physical player. Do I sound like Coach Flores yet?

Jason Strowbridge
If you’ve followed me on Twitter leading up to the Draft, you know I’ve mentioned Strowbridge frequently as someone I’ve liked for Miami. And getting him in the 5th round is a bit of a steal in my opinion. He took on a role as a DT and 3-4 DE at North Carolina, getting minimal reps as a DE in a four man D-line. With the Dolphins, I think he’ll slot into the same position as Emmanuel Ogbah and be a part of the rotation behind him.

His experience playing tighter techniques as a Tar Heel will be one thing Miami will likely try to build on in pass-rush packages. Here’s a clip from Voch Lombardi’s film review of the Senior Bowl with Strowbridge rushing as a 3-technique.

Our next clip of Strowbridge comes from the Tar Heels Bowl Game against Temple. We’ll see Strowbridge lined up at LDE in a 4-man line. He’s able to use an arm over move to defeat the TE and uses his explosion to get into the gap ahead of the pulling guard and help make a TFL.

In this clip against Virginia Tech he’s able to use quickly recognize that both the RG and RT down block and he’s able to get inside of the TE who’s trying to reach him and gets inside of the backside guard pulling. That play recognition is key and he’s able to make a tackle for no gain. Strowbridge doesn’t always exhibit the greatest get off/explosiveness off the snap, but when he does, his eyes take him to the ball well.

In our final clip, we’re looking at something subtle that I think the Dolphins will appreciate. Remember Kyle Van Noy’s pass-rush against the Vikings from above? Well, it’s plays like this from the front line that allow those pass-rush games to happen. Here we see Strowbridge lined up at 3-technique to the near side. He rushes from the B gap to the A gap and is able to occupy the RG and the C, allowing the LB to have a free run at the QB. While the LB fails to make the sack, you can see how this translates to what Miami will be wanting to do.

Jason Strowbridge will need some coaching up, there’s no denying that. But his length, power and experience playing tighter techniques will come in handy. I think his workload will steadily increase as the season moves on. But at first, I think he can help spell Ogbah at Big DE in 4-man lines and might give Miami something as an interior player on 3rd down pass-rush packages.

Curtis Weaver
I think most people are aware of the “good player, bad body” stigma that Curtis Weaver’s carried throughout the Draft process. Daniel Jeremiah said as much when Miami selected him. Weaver could be a tremendous value pick for the Dolphins. I haven’t seen Boise State a lot, but Weaver seems to be strictly a stand-up DE, and I’d think that he’d be that for Miami starting off. Think Chris Long at the end of his run with the Patriots. Weaver can be a 3rd down pass-rusher right off the bat. But I think he’ll need to learn to play the run better in order to earn more snaps.

In our first clip we’ll see that Air Force brings a wing-back into pitch phase to fake an option play. Weaver is the stand-up DE nearest to us. He’s able to read that the motion player isn’t getting the ball before he fully steps into his rush. He uses a rip move to get around the RT and does a nice job turning his rush path into the QB.

This clip showcases Weaver’s strength. Here he’s able to split a double team for a sack.

In the final clip with Curtis Weaver, we’ll see him use his length to set the edge against the run. Marion Hobby will be charged with coaxing this ability out of him more consistently. But when he does, this will help him see more reps.

How all these pieces come together should be very fun to watch. Miami now has a pair of Big DEs – Ogbah and Strowbridge and a pair of Rush ends in Lawson and Weaver. Kyle Van Noy will be playing himself. We’ll also likely see guys like Vince Biegel, Andrew Van Ginkel and Raekwon McMillan get some snaps on the edge as Brian Flowers wasn’t shy about having those three play on the edge last year.

Another added benefit to this, could be that we see Christian Wilkin’s pass-rush potential unlocked more in his second season. With some of these new edge additions able to rush from multiple spots, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Wilkins benefit on twists across the line.

While I won’t make any predictions on which of these guys leads the Dolphins in sacks, I will make two others:

1) These edge defenders will help Miami’s run defense improve. A lot.

2) In terms of pass-rush and the totality of the defense, this group of guys will allow Brian Flores and Josh Boyer to run the defense the way they want to and not be constrained into boiling it down like they did in 2019.

That final point is something we as Dolfans should all be very excited about! #FinsUp

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Miami Dolphins

Locked on Dolphins 2020 Mock Draft – Rounds 1 & 2

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Associated Press

The most-influential NFL draft (arguably) in the history of the Miami Dolphins franchise is set to take place in less than 8 hours, and with 5 draft picks in the first 2 rounds of the draft, no two predictions are going to be alike.

So without further ado, here is who the Locked on Dolphins staff predicted the team would take:

Note: you can check out Kyle Crabb’s full mock draft at The Draft Network here. His Dolphins predictions have been posted below.

5th-overall (Round 1)

Andrew Mitchell
Selection: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Summary: After all the smokescreens, debating and questioning, The Dolphins get their QB of the future. No trade up, no waiting at 18 in case of a slide due to injuries, no over thinking. They take their guy.

Chris Kowalewski
Selection: Mekhi Becton, Louisville (OT)
Summary: The Dolphins didn’t want to let go of Laremy Tunsil in 2019, but ultimately couldn’t refuse after Bill O’Brien offered to mortgage the Texans’ future in exchange for Miami’s best offensive lineman. The void left behind means that the Dolphins need to find a replacement to fortify protection for their QB and to raise them from the league’s worst rushing attack.

Gabe Hauari
Selection: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (QB)
Summary: The Dolphins get their man after all. Tua fits what Brian Flores looks for in a QB, and Miami rolls the dice on his health.

Jason Hrina
Selection: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (QB)
Summary: The Miami Dolphins likely aren’t staying at #5 to select Tua Tagovailoa, but if this is their guy they need to ensure they do everything they can to get him. Don’t let the Los Angeles Charges jump you over one draft pick. Make the move to #3 and secure your future.

Kevin Dern
Selection: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (QB)
Summary: While I don’t rank him in the same category as Andrew Luck, Tua’s going to give Miami a good chance at their franchise QB. He seems like a good fit to mesh well with the concepts Chan Gailey brings – remember, Gailey was one of the NFL originators using RPO’s, something Tua is fantastic with – and Tua will get to learn under a pro’s pro in Fitzpatrick.

Kyle Crabbs
Selection: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (QB)
Summary: The Dolphins’ hunt for a quarterback ends without the need to trade up from No. 5. They have been masterful in concealing their intentions this offseason, which allows them to take their pick from a talented group of QBs.

Oliver Candido
Selection: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Summary: Tua will stabilize the QB position for Miami for a decade-plus. Everything pertaining to the QB position, Tua checks the box for. His medical history will raise concerns, but Miami was able to have their doctors examine Tua’s hip prior to the draft.

Shawn Digity
Selection: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama (QB)
Summary: Once the dust has settled, I think it’s going to be Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins get their quarterback of the future, and they can give him a redshirt year if Ryan Fitzpatrick gets the starting nod for 2020. Strap in for the Tagovailoa era.

18th-overall (Round 1)

Andrew Mitchell
Selection: Andrew Thomas, Georgia (OT)
Summary: Ultimately, I think Dolphins move up from this spot in hopes of landing Jedrick Willis, but Miami looks to bolster its OL with Andrew Thomas, who should plug in right away as a LT.

Chris Kowalewski
Selection: Justin Herbert, Oregon (QB)
Summary: After trading 2nd and 5th round draft picks for Josh Rosen only a year ago, the Dolphins will clearly want to bring in another prospect to compete and learn under veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in his final year in Miami. The rumours of Herbert being considered by the Dolphins and Chargers as a top 6 pick in the draft are nothing but a smokescreen, and in this mock the Chargers were willing to outbid the Dolphins to select Tua Tagovailoa. Meanwhile, Justin Herbert fell down the board enough for the Dolphins to draft him at 18, where they are much more comfortable with the value of the pick.

Gabe Hauari
Selection: Josh Jones, Houston (OT)
Summary: This might be a slight reach, but the Dolphins badly need to invest in the offensive line to give Tua the best chance to stay healthy. Jones is still a little raw, but has some considerable upside.

Jason Hrina
Selection: A.J. Epenesa, Iowa (DL)
Summary: The Miami Dolphins have some talent on the defensive line, but they lack the kind of punch that’ll throw opposing quarterbacks off their rhythm. A.J. Epenesa brings the kind of versatility that Brian Flores likes in his players, and solidifies a defensive front that already features young players like Christian Wilkins and Davon Godchaux.

Kevin Dern
Selection: Ezra Cleveland, Boise State (OT)
Summary: Unless Miami makes a move up for a tackle, which to me seems unnatural for Chris Grier, I think Cleveland is the best tackle left in round one that has the length Miami desires in their tackles.

Kyle Crabbs
Selection: Andrew Thomas, Georgia (OT)
Summary: **Miami trades picks No. 18 & 39 to Cleveland for picks No. 10 & 187**
The Dolphins continue to build the best possible supporting cast around their new young quarterback — even at the cost of trading up to ensure they land one of the premier offensive tackles. Andrew Thomas is a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s new offense.

Oliver Candido
Selection: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (WR)
Summary: Tua’s #1 target will be joining him in Miami. Jeudy brings a chemistry with Tua, but also brings much more to the team. More of a BPA/luxury pick for Miami, but it’s hard to pass up on the talent.

Shawn Digity
Selection: Josh Jones, Houston (OT)
Summary: The top four offensive tackles will already be gone by this point, so the next best option is Houston’s Jones. Jones will be a plug-and-play addition onto the offensive line. The pick makes too much for an incomplete offensive line unit and the Dolphins taking their quarterback at five.

26th-overall (Round 1)

Andrew Mitchell
Selection: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (C/G)
Summary: It’s clear what the weak link on this team is. They take another solid OL starter from a big program. Solidifying their offensive line for the upcoming season. Thomas – Flowers – Karras – Ruiz – Davis.

Chris Kowalewski
Selection: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (C/G)
Summary: Despite the additions of Ted Karras and Ereck Flowers in free agency, the interior of the Dolphins’ offensive line is still in need of help. The selection of Cesar Ruiz brings in some positive talent to the group and versatility at either Center or Guard, whilst pleasing Dolphins owner and Michigan alum, Stephen Ross.

Gabe Hauari
Selection: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (C/G)
Summary: An offensive line consisting of Josh Jones, Ereck Flowers, Cesar Ruiz, Ted Karras and Jesse Davis would be a stark improvement from last year’s unit.

Jason Hrina
Selection: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Summary: After letting Reshad Jones go and trading Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins are relying on Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain at safety. Antoine Winfield Jr. is raw, but might just be a younger Reshad Jones. Pair him with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones on the outside, and the Dolphins feature one of the scariest secondaries in the NFL.

Kevin Dern
Selection: Ashtyn Davis, Cal (S)
Summary: Miami’s defense is predicated on playing a lot of Cover 1 looks. They have the CB tandem now with Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, and drafting a FS with Davis’s range allows them to move Bobby McCain back to nickel, rounding out one of the better secondaries in the league. Gerald Alexander, Davis’s position coach in college is also now with Miami.

Kyle Crabbs
Selection: D’Andre Swift, Georgia (RB)
Summary: Miami’s upgrades to its offense have been plentiful. This is a cherry-on-top selection that helps ensure the Dolphins’ new franchise QB will have a balanced offensive attack waiting for him.

Oliver Candido
Selection: Josh Jones, Houston (OT)
Summary: Jones steadily improved throughout his collegiate career, he also provides flexibility to the offensive line. Miami has to improve the offensive line, no matter who’s taking the snap behind the center.

Shawn Digity
Selection: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Summary: The Dolphins released Reshad Jones earlier in the off-season, and they’ll look to add a new safety at some point during the draft. That’s where Winfield comes in. Consider this another plug-and-play selection; I would expect Winfield to rise to the starting position early.

The player selected above and below this sentence shows you just how hard it is to predict a player’s draft value.

39th-overall (Round 2)

Andrew Mitchell
Selection: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Summary: Flores gets to add a rangey defensive back to a strong corner group. Winfield likely plays FS in the Flores defensive scheme which will move Bobby McCain back to Nickel Corner.

Chris Kowalewski
Selection: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (RB)
Summary: Dolphins’ RB coach, Eric Studesville and Head Coach Brian Flores spent significant time with JK Dobbins in mid-March and rumours quickly began as to their high regard for the Ohio State prospect. With 4459 yards and 38 TDs (6.2 yards per rush) spanning a 3 year college career, Dobbins will be sought-after in the early portion of Round 2 and would bring an instant upgrade to Miami’s RB group.

Gabe Hauari
Selection: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Summary: Pairing Winfield Jr. with Eric Rowe allows Brian Flores and Josh Boyer to move Bobby McCain back to slot cornerback, thus improving two positions with one pick. Winfield has the versatility to fit in perfectly with this defense.

Jason Hrina
Selection: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)
Summary: Jordan Howard was a good offseason signing, but the Miami Dolphins still need a second running back to compliment him. Adding one of college’s top running backs can help evolve Miami’s offense, making them legitimate playoff contenders with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center in 2020. Rather than reaching for an offensive line prospect that’s potentially available at #56, grab a future starting running back and get them on track to take over the backfield in 2021 – when your franchise quarterback will be starting and mistakes need to be minimized.

Kevin Dern
Selection: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)
Summary: Miami gets lucky here and nabs the perfect combo back to pair with Jordan Howard. Edwards-Helaire is terrific in the passing game and can make defenders miss in the open field. Daniel Jeremiah compared him to a “super-charged James White”. Sounds right for Miami.

Oliver Candido
Selection: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Summary: Safety is a position of need, and Miami is able to grab a game-changer. Winfield Jr. may be undersized, but he’s a ball hawk with the attitude and speed to get involved in the running game. Bobby McCain goes back to the nickel, subsequently improving that position as well.

Shawn Digity
Selection: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (RB)
Summary: The Fins signed Jordan Howard, but I have a suspicion that they’ll go after one of the heavy-hitter running backs to eventually be the bell cow moving forward. My best guess is Dobbins. I think he’ll take the opportunity and run with it.

56th-overall (Round 2)

Andrew Mitchell
Selection: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)
Summary: Dolphins need to add some more talent at the RB position. CEH is a small but all around solid prospect who will compliment the addition of Jordan Howard well.

Chris Kowalewski
Selection: Ashtyn Davis, Cal (S)
Summary: Brian Flores has shown a knack for getting significant production out of DBs and a possible pairing with the rookie out of Cal State may be a fruitful one for the Dolphins. With a big need at the safety spot, Davis brings huge potential, toughness, versatility and ‘A+’ character and work ethic, ticking all of the boxes which Flores looks for in his players.

Gabe Hauari
Selection: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)
Summary: The Dolphins WILL draft a running back early in this draft, the only question is ‘how early’ and which running back they prefer. Edwards-Helaire is a nice compliment to Jordan Howard.

Jason Hrina
Selection: Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State (LB)
Summary: Some will consider this a reach, but Willie Gay Jr. brings an athletic linebacker to a unit that is going to see Vince Biegel and Raekwon McMillan receive a pay raise in 2021. With a Jerome Baker extension looming in 2021 or 2022, and Kyle Van Noy already costing $12.75m annually, the Dolphins will need to use some draft assets for the middle of their defense. Gay isn’t just a cap strategy, but he also allows Miami to use Baker and Von Noy off the edge more often, essentially adding to Miami’s pass rush.

Kevin Dern
Selection: Robert Hunt, Louisiana (OG)
Summary: Miami’s not usually known for taking prospects from smaller schools, but I think they roll the dice on Hunt here. Hunt has experience playing RT in college, but can slide inside to RG and compete with Deiter, Calhoun and Isidora.

Oliver Candido
Selection: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)
Summary: Miami adds Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the backfield to pair with Jordan Howard. A balanced and patient runner who, with Howard, can tire out teams under the HardRock Stadium blistering sun.

Shawn Digity
Selection: Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU (OG)
Summary: The Dolphins select another offensive lineman; this time it’s Cushenberry from LSU. He’ll slide into right guard and be another early starter for a reinventing offensive line.

Mock Draft by Writer

Andrew Mitchell:
Round 1, #5: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Round 1, #18: Andrew Thomas, Georgia (OT)
Round 1, #26: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (C/G)
Round 2, #39: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Round 2, #56: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)

Chris Kowalewski:

For the record, Tua Tagovailoa would be my preferred pick at #5 for the Dolphins. Like a large proportion of fans, I’m itching for the Dolphins to swing the bat and take a chance on a special prospect at the team’s most important position. I’d rather not see them having accumulated all this draft capital only to play it ‘safe’ with a lesser talent when it comes to the question of unforeseeable durability. If selecting Tua needed a move up to #3, I’d still do it.

It’s no secret that Miami has been interested in Tua since he burst onto the scene with a National Championship victory. But opinions could easily, and genuinely, have changed in light of a slew of unfortunate injuries and it’s inevitable (and only right) that Chris Grier and Brian Flores should have also considered a variety of other possible plans and options as to how to build the team.

I’m not in charge of the Dolphins’ draft or have any remote impact upon what they could decide to do. I’ve only sat on the couch at home to watch the Dolphins struggle in recent years with an absent, injured QB and various iterations of incompetent backups, protected by a turnstile of an offensive line. The Dolphins are a team with several key needs and spent 2019 acquiring the draft capital needed to develop for the future.

These predictions assume that the Chargers see themselves as only a QB away from truly competing and are willing to outbid the Dolphins to move up, trading with the Lions for the 3rd overall pick and Tua Tagovailoa.

So on that basis, I can only project what I *think* the Dolphins’ front office *might* do in the first couple of rounds of the draft, using TheDraftNetwork.com’s Mock Draft Simulator.

It might not be exactly what I want them to do… but it may well be a possibility.

Round 1, #5: Mekhi Becton, Louisville (OT)
Round 1, #18: Justin Herbert, Oregon (QB)
Round 1, #26: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (C/G)
Round 2, #39: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (RB)
Round 2, #56: Ashtyn Davis, Cal (S)

Gabe Hauari:
Round 1, #5: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Round 1, #18: Josh Jones, Houston (OT)
Round 1, #26: Cesar Ruiz, Michigan (C/G)
Round 2, #39: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Round 2, #56: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)

Jason Hrina:
Round 1, #5: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Round 1, #18: A.J. Epenesa, Iowa (DL)
Round 1, #26: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Round 2, #39: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)
Round 2, #56: Willie Gay Jr., Mississippi State (LB)

Kevin Dern:
Round 1, #5: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Round 1, #18: Ezra Cleveland, Boise State (OT)
Round 1, #26: Ashtyn Davis, Cal (S)
Round 2, #39: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)
Round 2, #56: Robert Hunt, Louisiana (OG)

Kyle Crabbs:
Round 1, #5: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Round 1, #18: Andrew Thomas, Georgia (OT)
Round 1, #26: D’Andre Swift, Georgia (RB)

Oliver Candido:
Round 1, #5: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Round 1, #18: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (WR)
Round 1, #26: Josh Jones, Houston (OT)
Round 2, #39: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Round 2, #56: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU (RB)

Shawn Digity:
Round 1, #5: Tua Tagolavaia, Alabama (QB)
Round 1, #18: Josh Jones, Houston (OT)
Round 1, #26: Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (DB)
Round 2, #39: J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (RB)
Round 2, #56: Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU (OG)

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Miami Dolphins

Great Shot, Kid. That Was One In A Million: A Draft Day Mock

Chris Kowalewski

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Tua Tagovailoa 2020 NFL Draft

I wonder what the odds are of guessing every draft pick correctly. Even in the first 2 rounds, let alone all 7.

Probably about the same odds as Luke Skywalker’s dastardly attempt to vandalize the Empire’s friendly space-based construction site in Star Wars.

However, I’ll certainly give it a go.

Draft Day is finally here. This year, amongst a global crisis, it is a weekend which could mark the history books as a pivotal moment in the Miami Dolphins’ march towards future success. 

The Dolphins were the talk of the early 2019 season as they traded away promising talent to acquire more draft picks and ammunition for the 2020 draft, which in turn set them up for media criticism and mockery.

Combined losses of a 163-26 point differential to cap off the first quarter of the season certainly didn’t help, but the atmosphere around the Dolphins has since shifted following a promising 5-4 record in the final 9 games. Head Coach Brian Flores has since been widely praised for keeping his team on the track of competition and hard work, and a litany of NFL free agents specifically signed new contracts with the Dolphins, eager to be guided by Miami’s new regime.

The time has finally come for the Dolphins to select their hopeful stars – to identify which of the young rookies figure to fit in the system which they are building for the future.

There are a million other mock drafts pumped out there on an annual basis – perhaps one of them is even correct. No one will know for sure until the final pick is in.

LockedOnDolphins has even compiled its own writers’ draft predictions for Rounds 1 and 2. In that mock, I put on my Dolphins’ head – tainted by the smokescreens and noise which has accumulated over the past several weeks, to throw a best guess at what I could see the Dolphins doing in the opening rounds of the draft.

For this one, I’m adopting the mantle of Dolphins’ GM to play at picking who I would take if I was in charge of Miami’s war room. Loading up the Mock Draft Simulator at TheDraftNetwork.com, my virtual connection was complete and the Bengals were on the clock…

  1. Bengals – Joe Burrow, QB
  1. Redskins – Chase Young, EDGE
  1. Lions – Jeffrey Okudah, CB
  1. Giants – K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE
  1. Dolphins – Tua Tagovailoa, QB

For me, this pick is a no-brainer should Tua be available at #5. I still firmly believe that the Dolphins should be wary of the Chargers’ affection for Tua and the possible need to trade up to solidify the pick. Stuck in the NFL mediocrity pool between 7-9 and 9-7 for what feels like an eternity, the Dolphins haven’t been in a natural position to acquire one of the draft’s top QB prospects, let alone one who some consider to be the best in the draft. Injury or not, the Dolphins find themselves in position to swing the bat and they will find out in due time whether or not they hit the home run. The reward here is potentially too good to pass up.

  1. Chargers – Justin Herbert, QB
  1. Panthers – Derrick Brown, IDL
  1. Cardinals – Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE
  1. Jaguars – CJ Henderson, CB
  1. Browns – Isaiah Simmons, LB
  1. Jets – Tristan Wirfs, OT
  1. Raiders – Henry Ruggs III, WR
  1. 49ers – CeeDee Lamb, WR
  1. Buccaneers – Mekhi Becton, OT
  1. Broncos – Jerry Jeudy, WR
  1. Falcons – Javon Kinlaw, IDL
  1. Cowboys – Jeff Gladney, CB
  1. Dolphins – Jedrick Wills, OT

In all seriousness, having Jedrick Wills fall this far down the draft is probably less likely than seeing Tua fall to #5. Regarded as one of the four top tackles in the draft, Wills will have significant interest for his services. But as GM for this mock, I can only follow the board as it falls, and the opportunity to grab the Alabama RT to protect Tua’s blind side is not one which I can pass up. An instant starter and a huge upgrade to the Dolphins’ offensive line, this would be a dream scenario for the Dolphins in Round 1 of the Draft.

  1. Raiders – Kristian Fulton, CB
  1. Jaguars – Xavier McKinney, S
  1. Eagles – Jaylon Johnson, CB
  1. Vikings – Justin Jefferson, WR
  1. Patriots – Jordan Love, QB
  1. Saints – Denzel Mims, WR
  1. Vikings – AJ Epenesa, EDGE
  1. Dolphins – Grant Delpit, S

At pick 26, several players remained on the board as possibilities for the Dolphins here. The option to pick up a starting LT in Andrew Thomas was certainly tempting, but was overridden by the chance to add an infusion of talent to Miami’s defensive backfield. LSU’s star safety accumulated 65 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 INTS in 14 games for the National Champions and would bring a steadiness and toughness to the Dolphins’ safety group to compliment their star CB duo of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, building a fearsome secondary.

  1. Seahawks – Andrew Thomas, OT
  1. Ravens – Patrick Queen, LB
  1. Titans – Josh Jones, OT
  1. Packers – Jalen Reagor, WR
  1. 49ers – Neville Gallimore, IDL
  1. Chiefs – D’Andre Swift, RB

Round 2

33. Bengals – Isaiah Wilson, OT

34. Colts – Brandon Aiyuk, WR

35. Lions – Zack Baun, EDGE

36. Giants – Ezra Cleveland, OT

37. Chargers – Austin Jackson, OT

38. Panthers – Kenneth Murray, LB

39. Dolphins – Cesar Ruiz, IOL

Ruiz is widely considered as the best interior offensive lineman in the 2020 draft and the Michigan prospect would bring versatility to a Dolphins OL group which has yet to be solidified. With the ability to line up at center or guard, he has excellent quickness and plays every snap through the whistle. Not to mention that the selection of Ruiz would please Dolphins owner and fellow Michigan alum, Stephen Ross. I would love this value at Pick #39.

40. Texans – Ross Blacklock, IDL

41. Browns – Lucas Niang, OT

42. Jaguars – Marlon Davidson, IDL

43. Bears – Antoine Winfield Jr, S 

44. Colts – Justin Madubuike, IDL

45. Buccaneers – KJ Hamler, WR

46. Broncos – Noah Igbinoghene, CB

47. Falcons – Jonathan Taylor, RB

48. Jets – Michael Pittman Jr, WR

49. Steelers – Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL

50. Bears – Terrell Lewis, EDGE

51. Cowboys – Jeremy Chinn, S

52. Rams – Joshua Uche, EDGE

53. Eagles – Jordan Brooks, LB

54. Bills – Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

55. Ravens – Tee Higgins, WR

56. Dolphins – JK Dobbins, RB

Running back is another position of huge need for Miami. With Jordan Howard added as a free agent, the Dolphins have one rostered player who has proven himself as a starting caliber RB. As the position itself becomes devalued around the NFL, this spot is a perfect time for the Dolphins to find themselves one of the top-tier talents. Starting 9 picks earlier, Jonathan Taylor was taken off the board by the Falcons, with Clyde-Edwards Helarie being selected by the Bills at 54. In my books, Helaire or JK Dobbins sit at the top of the RB picks who would fit in the Dolphins scheme and the selection of Dobbins, reportedly a favourite of coach Eric Studesville, was an easy choice to make here.

57. Rams – Jonah Jackson, IOL

58. Vikings – AJ Terrell, CB

59. Seahawks – Curtis Weaver, EDGE

60. Ravens – Matt Hennessy, IOL

61. Titans – Davon Hamilton, IDL

62. Packers – Cole Kmet, TE

63. Chiefs – Trevon Diggs, CB

64. Seahawks – Robert Hunt, IOL

So there we have it. Yet another mock draft to join the millions of others online which will more-than-likely find themselves proven wrong in only a matter of hours.

But as fans, the speculation which still lingers in these final moments is what keeps us going and peaks the excitement until anything becomes official. 

The chance to land a game-changing talent, in any round, brings hope for the future and fuels interest and a fiery dedication in fans all over the globe. 

For those who follow me on Twitter, you’ll already know where my I pin my hopes among the stars…

Count me in with the list of fans who will be celebrating on Thursday night if the Dolphins select Tua Tagovailoa.

The wait is almost over to hear those magical, nerve-wracking words…

The Miami Dolphins are now on the clock”.

 

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