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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)

Growing up a passionate Dolphins fan in Jets territory, Jason learned from an early age that life as a Dolphins fan wasn’t going to be easy. Previously the Sports Editor for his university newspaper, Jason has experience writing columns, creating game recaps and conducting interviews with Hall of Fame athletes (Harry Carson and Yogi Berra are two of his proudest interviews). When he’s not dissecting the latest sports news, you can find him perplexed over the Dolphins offensive line woes or involuntarily introducing music to his neighbors.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Tua Tagovailoa has IT.

Brian Flores is THE guy.

And I have to admit, Chris Grier has done a phenomenal job.

After an exciting 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (5-3), the Miami Dolphins (5-3) solidified themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the AFC. Sure, you can say we’re getting a bit cocky – we’ve watched our team falter plenty of times before. But do you get the sense that these are the same Dolphins we’ve been watching this century?

Right now, are you skeptical or optimistic?

Do you have butterflies because you’re nervous or because you’re excited?

Do you think the Dolphins are trying to survive each game or do you have confidence that they’ll win?

Coming off of 4-straight victories, it’s easy to feel like we’re on top of the world, but this team looks different. It feels different. They act different.

Below are a few thoughts following Miami’s promising 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Monday Morning Thoughts

Tua Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for

Admit it, when they originally ruled that throwaway an interception, you saw shades of every failed quarterback to come since Dan Marino.

That play was so comically bad that it easily could have defined Tua’s career if it didn’t pan out. Thankfully, it was ruled that the receiver’s foot was out-of-bounds and it was an incomplete pass – but imagine the memes that would have been unleashed if Miami lost this game and that play counted.

But, it didn’t count….and the Dolphins didn’t lose….and Tua Tagovailoa out-dueled Kyler Murray when it mattered most.

When the Dolphins needed a game-winning drive, Tua delivered. When Kyler Murray had an opportunity to tie it, he didn’t (along with an obscure Zane Gonzalez kick).

Tua’s elite pocket presence, accuracy, decision-making, and ball placement were all on display. And none of that accounts for the plays he made with his legs.

If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re thrilled with what you saw. And though it’s only a small sample size, I think we can all exhale – he looks like he’s the guy.

Byron Jones is still a damn good Cornerback

After three-straight dominant performances, Byron Jones was a bit humbled this game. We’re so used to watching him shut down opposing receivers that a game like this really sticks out.

He was absolutely burned by Christian Kirk on a beautiful deep ball from Kyler Murray late in the first quarter, but that wasn’t his worse play.

Dolphins fans and Byron Jones both thought he hauled in his first interception since October, 2017. Instead, Darrell Daniels’ first career touchdown reception is one of the highlights of the year as he snatches the ball right out of Jones’ hands.

I mean, Byron Jones had that ball in his hands for an interception, and before they hit the ground Darrell Daniels steals it into his possession. AND somehow had his knee down so it would count as a catch. Crazy.

Miami’s (really, it’s Brian Flores’) now infamous “zero” boom-or-bust scheme is susceptible to the long-ball, as our corners are expected to cover their receivers 1-on-1; with no safety help behind them. So far this season, it has worked tremendously to their advantage (as seen below)

But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:

With all of that said, Byron Jones is still a great cornerback in this league. Was this a bad game? Definitely. But I don’t expect this to become a trend. Lets not take for granted the elite secondary we currently have.

Christian Wilkins should NOT stop celebrating

Just please celebrate responsibly.

One of the reasons Dolphins fans adore Christian Wilkins is because of his infectious personality. He’s notoriously running in and celebrating every offensive touchdown with his team. His trash talking is innocently intimidating. The way he pumps his team up is perfect for any locker room culture. On top of the fact that he’s a pretty good defensive tackle.

Which is why I want him to keep celebrating – and I want him to continue celebrating excessively.

Preston Williams‘ unfortunate injury during a touchdown celebration is a huge reason why professional coaches like to contain their million-dollar players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. It makes sense, they’re valuable commodities, but Wilkins’ spirit is too valuable to douse.

If something like this happens again, then we can talk about stifling his excitement, until then….celebrate smarter.

Xavien Howard’s “penalties” tell half the story

Xavien Howard was tasked with shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, and he ended up accounting for more penalty yards (43) than receiving yards against him (30).

The real testament to Howard’s coverage throughout the game? DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league, didn’t see a single target in the first half of the game.

A couple (terrible) penalties shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Xavien Howard and Byron Jones may be the best cornerback tandem in the league.

The Miami Dolphins need a Running Back in the worst way

Jordan Howard‘s 8-yard run on the last drive of the game – which helped seal the victory – was his biggest play as a Miami Dolphin. Up to that point, I was kind of rooting for Howard to continue his 1 YPC average. If you take away that 8-yard run (EASILY his longest of the year), Howard has gained 25 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts (0.93 YPC).

Rookie Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, with 7 carries for 38 yards (5.4 YPC). I’m not sure how reliable he is, but he can’t be worse than Howard. If Matt Breida is available for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure Howard will once again be inactive, giving Ahmed another shot to prove himself.

We probably should have given Austin Jackson the week off

Austin Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time in 4 weeks (due to a foot injury) and was “ok”. He was beat on a few plays, but it’s evident he wasn’t 100%. I wouldn’t make any presumptions based off of this game; if anything, the reps help from an experience/mental perspective.

Jason Sanders is a stud

Jason Sanders connecting on 56 and 50-yard field goals are that much more impressive when you take into account that weird Zane Gonzalez miss (where he was short from 49 yards).

The conspiracy floating around is that the ball died (on Gonzalez’s kick) because the roof was open. Yet, Sanders made his 50+ yard field goals with room to spare.

Today’s the day we will never take Jason Sanders for granted as he surpassed Olindo Mare‘s franchise record of 19-straight field goals made.

The Miami Dolphins are going to “have to” extend Emmanuel Ogbah

I think we all would love to see a contract extension, but it’s bordering on a “necessity” at this point. Not just because we want to lock up a top-notch defensive end, but because he’s going to (rightfully) demand more financial security.

Though it always felt like he was on a one-year deal, this is technically the first year of a 2-year, $15m contract for Emmanuel Ogbah, but there’s no guaranteed money tied to 2021 – and there’s no way he’s playing like a $7.5m defensive end.

Jordan Phillips averages $10m a year with his recent contract, and I think it’s fair to say that Ogbah is worth more than that. Expect a holdout if the Dolphins don’t give him a raise and an extension this offseason. That’s not to say we should be concerned – I think Miami will look to make this extension a priority – but if they don’t see eye-to-eye expect a holdout to occur.

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Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a team sport.

Wins don’t individually define a quarterback’s success.

Yet everyone agrees that the only way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback that is better than (just about) every other franchise in the sport.

Once you have an upper-echelon quarterback, then you can talk about the nuances of creating a team. Whether it’s surrounding that quarterback with the proper talent, ensuring you’ve built the right scheme around them, or complimenting them with a staunch defense to complete a championship run, developing an entire roster means nothing if you don’t have a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs.

38 years ago, the Miami Dolphins selected a quarterback that would revolutionize the NFL.

A man decades before his time, the immediate success Dan Marino brought us – after 13 championship-caliber years with Bob Griese – shielded us from the horrors of football purgatory. Maybe it’s this curse of #13 that has us clamoring for football relevance after almost 50 years without a Super Bowl Championship.

We watched our franchise devolve from the model of perfection to a team without an identity; floundering desperately to find a viable quarterback for two decades.

And with one swift decision, the Dolphins simultaneously expunged their football idiocy of years past and exhibited the type of football prowess that should lead them to salvation.

Image Credit: South Florida Sun Sentinel

As we’re destroying the team for wasting 2nd & 5th-round picks on Josh Rosen, we’re praising them for building the foundation for future success. Gone are these false prophets of yesteryear, as the real prodigy we’ve all been yearning for is one step closer to leading the helm.

Once Tua Tagovailoa was selected 5th-overall in the 2020 NFL draft, Rosen’s exile was cemented. He was never going to have an opportunity to make it here, it was always going to be Tua Tagovailoa backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The grizzly, 13-year veteran handles the nuances of a young football team while the young, energetic and extremely talented rookie spends valuable time learning and developing.

That move…that single transaction…will forever symbolize the moment the Miami Dolphins transitioned from football purgatory to football relevance.

The Purgatory We Built

No one remembers the cost of a successful trade.

Off the top of your head, what did the New York Giants trade to swap Philip Rivers for Eli Manning? How much did Carson Wentz cost the Philadelphia Eagles when they traded up for him? I bet you all remember the litany of picks the Washington Football Team paid for Robert Griffin III, or how badly the Chicago Bears missed on Mitch Trubisky when they gave up a bunch of picks to move up from #3 to #2.

It’s because mistakes are always magnified for franchises that fail. As a fan base, we’ve been groomed to remember all the negative aspects of our favorite football team, because that’s all we’ve known for the better half of our adult lives.

After trudging through this wasteland for so long, we are finally ready to move past all of the detrimental mistakes that have cost us 20+ years of our lives – including the Josh Rosen trade.

Sure, you have your classics like failing to draft (and then sign) Drew Brees, drafting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers with the 2nd-overall pick, drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick, and trading a 2nd-round pick for A.J. Feeley.

It’s not that the Dolphins haven’t tried, it’s just that they have failed almost mightily when doing so.

I respect that Miami was aggressive in their pursuit of Josh Rosen – or for any of the other quarterbacks they’ve attempted to put under center – but their aggression was either misguided, ill-informed, or even desperate at best.

A year prior to Rosen’s draft-day trade, another draft-day trade was occurring – one that would transcend the Baltimore Ravens organization for the prolonged future. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson – a quarterback some Dolphins fans wanted with the team’s 11th-overall pick.

To move back into the first round and secure a quarterback with the 5th-year option, all Baltimore had to give up was an additional 2nd-round pick (see the full trade at the end of the article).

With their draft-day trade, the Baltimore Ravens landed an MVP.
With their draft-day trade, the Miami Dolphins landed a quarterback that was released for nothing.

Again, I don’t fault the Dolphins for being aggressive, but their pursuit was often awry.

The frustrating part of all of this may be that this team actually “spent” both in assets and money, they just didn’t seem to take that extra step at the right time.

Spending 2nd-round picks was fine 3 years in a row (with Chad Henne, John Beck and Pat White), but spending 2nd-round picks then became “too much” when they could have moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – instead, they stayed put at #22 and drafted Charles Harris.

Think about it, Miami’s best quarterbacks since Dan Marino were:

  • Castaway by the New York Jets (and subsequently got his shoulder destroyed like everyone predicted)
  • (Allegedly) Forced upon us by Stephen Ross because he knew what a new quarterback would inject into a flat-lining brand (ie: making $$)

Between Chad Pennington and Ryan Tannehill there is 1 playoff appearance and 0 playoff wins.

There are definitive reasons why the Dolphins are executing a rebuild in 2019-2020 – after attempting to rebuild numerous times already this century – and you can say that lots of it has to do with the Head Coaches that have been in place.

Watching Ryan Tannehill lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship came was the most-conflicted I’ve felt in a long time as a Dolphins fan. I was thrilled he was able to prove himself, but frustrated that my team was once again watching from the couch.

Heck, for all the praise we give Brian Flores, he couldn’t get Minkah Fitzpatrick to buy into his system – ultimately losing a near-Defensive MVP player to an organization that has been breathing success since the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season.

Miami hasn’t lacked talent – it’s why they’re constantly hovering around 8-8. The problem is, they lack the most important piece on the football field combined with the right leader to mold them. Which explains why they constantly sit around 8-8.

The Future We Created

But thoughts of perpetual 8-8 seasons are a thing of the past. The Dolphins may have drafted their future franchise quarterback back in April, but they officially rolled out their #1 prize just a few days ago. Coincidentally, just 3 days after Rosen was released.

The timing is likely coincidental, but who says omens have to be a bad thing?

This Dolphins team is young (thanks to Chris Grier), determined (courtesy of Brian Flores’ mindset), talented (after accumulating so many draft picks) and they’re wise beyond their years.

With a bounty of draft picks at their disposal once again in 2021, and with a franchise quarterback seemingly set to take over by season’s end, the future for the Miami Dolphins looks EXTREMELY bright.

After most “experts” predicted the Dolphins would go nearly winless – some even calling for criminal investigations to be conducted – Flores showed off his leadership and led Miami to a 5-11 record.

If the worst roster in the NFL can win 5 games, what can an improved roster accomplish?

Last year, there were too many holes on the roster to count. Now, you’re desperate to find a missing piece. In 12 months, we’ve gone from cringe-worthy to dynasty-bound in some expert’s eyes.

So have the Dolphins finally returned to football relevance?

If this team really identified the right Head Coach, and if Tua’s hip can stay healthy, then there’s no reason why the Miami Dolphins aren’t about to embark on a successful crusade that takes the rest of the NFL by storm.

Earlier this year, we lost one of the greatest leaders to ever bless our organization. In honor of the all-time wins leader, the Miami Dolphins will wear a patch signifying Don Shula’s record-setting 347 career wins.

And who knows, maybe this renaissance is Shula’s last gift to an organization – and a community – that he spent his life already giving so much to. The symbolism would be all-too coincidental otherwise.

The Baltimore Ravens/Lamar Jackson Trade:

Yes, I understand every other team passed on Jackson. I also understand the Ravens passed on him once when they selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick that year, but Baltimore has built a championship-caliber organization over the past two decades, while the Dolphins have accomplished one playoff win – I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.

The Lamar Jackson trade can be broken down like this:

  • Baltimore traded pick 52 (2nd-round) to move up to 32nd-overall (1st)
  • Baltimore also sent Philadelphia pick 125 in the deal, but they received pick 132 in return – a downgrade of 7 spots in the 4th-round.
  • Otherwise, all Baltimore spent was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 (which ended up being pick #53).

Full trade:

Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)

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Miami Dolphins

There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Think Brian Flores & Chris Grier aren’t smart?

After successfully navigating through all of the pre-draft smokescreens better than teenagers can survive the high school rumor mill, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to flourish for the next decade.

Yes, it’s something we’ve said before almost annually, but this time, there’s a clear foundation that will allow the roots of this franchise to prosper.

We’ve Heard This Before

Tony Sparano blossomed under the Bill Parcells‘ coaching tree in Dallas, bringing with him an aura of prominence and a pedigree for smash mouth football.

After a miraculous 10-game turnaround that took Miami from #1 overall in the draft to division winners, fans felt they had the proper leadership in place.

That was soon debunked when the Dolphins followed an 11-5 (2008) season with 7-9 (2009), 7-9 (2010) and 6-10 (2011). It’s not that any of us feel that Sparano was a bad coach, but it was more-than-evident that he was handicapped at the quarterback position.

The Dolphins go 11-5 in 2008 because their quarterback was the runner-up in the MVP race, and they falter to 7-9 after that because they decided to build around Chad Henne.

Good coach, but poor coaching decisions.

From there, the Dolphins hired one of the best human beings on the planet – Joe Philbin. The notorious problem with Philbin was: he couldn’t lead a football team.

Failing to rein in Vontae Davis‘ hangovers, everything regarding Richie Incognito, the Chad Ochocinco saga (check out this damning ESPN article from 2012, which gives you a glimpse into how the player’s felt about Philbin early on), and all of the Mike Wallace drama. Those football teams had some decent talent, yet were never better than a mediocre 8-8 in Philbin’s 4 years.

Great person, but terrible with people.

Adam Gase then took a 1-4 season and made the playoffs at 10-6. All the optimism surrounding Ryan Tannehill seemed justified, and we were ecstatic for the future. But we came to learn that Gase’s coaching talents resembled more of a glorified offensive coordinator, which left players feelings ostracized and without a sense of direction – especially those on defense.

Like Philbin, Gase wanted a group of players that followed him, rather than developing a strategy that tailored to his players’ strengths. He traded away (or failed to re-sign) productive players drafted by Grier in years past, just because he couldn’t handle them.

After a 10-6 start to his coaching career (2016), we watched our hopes dwindle to 6-10 (2017) – accompanied with $10m worth of embarrassing Jay Cutler highlights – and then 7-9 (2018) after the “quarterback guru” couldn’t get any production out of a 2019 Pro Bowl & AFC Championship quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.

Offensive visionary, but he couldn’t see past his own shortcomings.

So Why is This Different?

This would be the definition of insanity….if it meant that we were following the same trend.

Yes, we understand the eternal caveat that we won’t know for sure until we see the results, but after a successful 2019 – and a stellar 2020 draft that features plenty of starting potential – we’re not going too far out on a limb to say that they have our trust.

Going into a vital 2020 NFL draft where the team held 3 first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins’ future rested solely on the leis of Tua Tagovailoa. For months we were on edge, because, as Dolphins fans, we just figured they would screw it up. But once they secured their quarterback of the future, the plan was simple: protect him.

Not only was the plan to build a wall in front of him, but Grier and Flores identified that some of these positions take more time to develop than others. Rarely do offensive and defensive linemen jump right in and become dominant players. The difference between pancaking teenagers in college to moving a mountain-of-a-man in the NFL is colossal.

Rookies go through such a strenuous process to improve their draft stock – immediately after completing a full college season – that they are burned out by the time their rookie year is over. That’s exactly what happened to Michael Deiter towards the end of last season; it’s no surprise we see their performance start to slide after putting in so much work throughout the year.

Drafting Austin Jackson (18th-overall pick), Robert Hunt (39th), and Solomon Kindley (111th) means Miami is giving their rookies time to grow before being asked to protect their most-important asset since Dan Marino.

Instead of a trying to learn the nuances of the NFL with a rookie quarterback, they can learn how an offensive play is properly setup, executed and audibled under a veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

When it comes time to protect Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, they won’t have to worry if they understood the protection, if they’ll make a rookie mistake, or if they’ll naively and unintentionally do something embarrassing or costly. They’ll be able to focus on executing the play properly, giving Tua an ample amount of time to handle his own “rookie” adjustments.

With Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins acquire another player at a position that tends to need some time to grow. This move makes me wonder what the future holds for Davon Godchaux, who is expected to receive a very nice payday in free agency after this season, but for now, Miami can rely heavily on Godchaux and their 2019 1st-round pick, Christian Wilkins. Davis has the opportunity to learn under these two as he prepares to take on a much bigger role in 2021.

With their final 1st-round pick, Miami selected another young player at a cornerstone position. The adjustments rookie cornerbacks need to make when guarding an NFL receiver are somewhat substantial, and Noah Igbinoghene will be able to learn and make these adjustments while covering the opponent’s third or forth receiver – with the added security that he has an array of established and Pro Bowl veterans behind him.

This might hint at an ugly and somewhat inconsistent 2020 season, as roughly half of this roster is new to the team, but all of these young players will start to excel as Tua begins to transition into our full-time starting quarterback.

Which means the Miami Dolphins are ready to make a legitimate playoff run in 2021.

Is it possible all of these risks falter? Of course! Austin Jackson just turned 21 years old, and he wasn’t viewed as the best left tackle in college last season – he is a projection. Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t viewed as a 1st-round caliber cornerback, as most “experts” think he’s restricted to covering the slot rather than becoming a boundary corner. And then you have the general, inevitable fact that some of these picks just won’t pan out.

But we watched players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Raekwon McMillan, Vince Biegel and Nik Needham take the “next step” under Brian Flores stewardship. It only makes us wonder who he’ll coach up next.

Now that Flores is more-comfortable as a sophomore coach, and the team understands his “win no matter what” philosophy, Miami should naturally thrive in year two….right?

Like all of these other coaches before him, Flores is an absolute genius after year one. And like all those coaches before him, he’s one season away from looking like a dunce.

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