Connect with us

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2020 Roster Building Preview – Offensive Line

Travis Wingfield



Looking back, looking ahead, and everywhere in between ahead of a critical Miami Dolphins offseason


This publication has always fancied itself as an unaffiliated extension of the Miami Dolphins operation. In an attempt to arm fans with the researched clues about the team might do — and commentary on what they should do — we like to follow the same timeline as the coaches and decision makers at the facility in Davie.

The time for reflection is now. The coaching staff will be reviewing the 2019 season with an eye on self-scouting, and evaluating the job of every member that donned the Dolphins logo this past fall. The college scouting staff is buried in draft prep, and the pro personnel side is under water searching for potential free agent targets.

Since Locked On Dolphins is the most comprehensive Miami Dolphins outlet in existence, we’ll tackle all three subjects.

1. Reviewing the incumbents
2. Identifying free agent targets
3. Stacking the draft board

And we’ll do it for every position. It’s 10 days of offseason preparation, here on Locked On Dolphins dot com, as well as the Locked On Dolphins Podcast.

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Offensive Line
Defensive Line

Offensive Line (Tackle and Interior)

The offensive line was always going to be an issue in 2019, even before the departure of Pro-Bowl Left Tackle Laremy Tunsil. Brian Flores spoke about the importance of the line playing as a singular unit, and a single star player having a marginal impact if the rest of the group isn’t up to the challenge.

Losing Tunsil blew open a massive hole at the blindside protector spot, and it took the Dolphins multiple weeks to recover; if we’re willing to call it a recovery, that is. The line cumulatively finished dead last in both pass protection and run blocking grades on Pro Football Focus, but the Miami offense produced in spite of the shaky front wall.

Jesse Davis played wire-to-wire for the second straight season, this year at right tackle (right guard in 2018). He’s the leader of the room and a conduit for the message from the coaching staff to the players. As a result, Davis was rewarded with a team-friendly contract. It’s a big year for Davis, and for the right tackle position in general; he’s owed an annual $3.5 million over the next three years, but there’s an out for just $2 million in dead money after the 2020 season.

The other four spots will challenge the acumen of the Miami brass. Michael Deiter played a lot, but the results were sub-par. There were glimpses of hope from Evan Boehm, which corroborated his 2018 film in Indianapolis; those two players could factor in across the interior three positions.

The starting left tackle and swing tackle are not on the roster, and a whole lot of development has to happen for anyone else to garner legitimate consideration for playing time in the fall.

The Incumbents

Jesse Davis (Right Tackle, Guard Experience)
Stats: 42 Total Pressures (5 sacks, 4 hits, 33 hurries)
PFF Grade: 58.9 (89 of 126)
Snaps: 975 (90.4%)

What started off as a learning experience became the lone encouraging development across Miami’s 2019 offensive line. While Davis averaged 10 pressures allowed per month, his five-game run to close out the year kept Ryan Fitzpatrick mostly out of harm’s way (three hits, no sacks allowed).

Davis played 110 snaps at right tackle in 2017 before moving to right guard in 2018. Speed rushers still give him fits. He made the initial kick slide a focal point of his development this season, and it came to fruition in two matchups with burners off the edge. Davis allowed only one hit combined in the games against Philadelphia and Cincinnati, and parlayed that success into a promising finish to the year. Davis has the size/athleticism profile the Dolphins like at the position.

Michael Deiter (Left Guard, Center Experience)
Stats: 44 total pressures (6 sacks, 15 hits, 23 hurries)
PFF Grade: 42.5 (113 of 119)
Snaps: 995 (92.3%)

The moment Miami announced the selection of Deiter in last draft’s third-round, every fan wrote his name in sharpie as the starting left guard. That’s exactly what happened come September, but a slow burn of a developmental-year eventually landed Deiter on the bench for one game. He returned for the final three games, but with more mixed results.

Reliability and quality college tape will keep Deiter in the fold, but he has to make an improvement in year-two. He never missed a snap, aside from his benching, proving his college durability to be no fluke (53 consecutive starts at Wisconsin). He’s technically proficient but can be coaxed into shooting his hands too early, and often gets out over his skis. He struggled with games (stunts, twists, slants, delayed blitzes), and fell off far too many blocks.

The hope is better, more consistent play next to him (at both positions) and a year of strength-training can return an improved product for training camp in July.

Daniel Kilgore (Center)
Stats: 19 total pressures (3 sacks, 4 hits, 12 hurries)
PFF Grade: 66.3 (19 of 50)
Snaps: 877 (81.3%)

The second-most reliable lineman after Davis, Kilgore provided Miami with a proficient communicator and trusted veteran in the middle of the line. Once the ball was snapped, however, that stability was as shaky as the other spots.

Power players give Kilgore a lot of fits, and reach blocks are problematic for a less-than-stellar athlete. The Dolphins can cut ties from the $3.5 million cash commitment to Kilgore this year with no penalty, and they can exercise that flexibility any time before the season — there are no roster bonus incentives in Kilgore’s 2020 deal.

Deion “Shaq” Calhoun (Right Guard)
Stats: 18 total pressures (2 sacks, 3 hits, 13 hurries)
PFF Grade: 44.2 (109 of 119)
Snaps: 471 (43.6%)

Sometimes undrafted rookies hit straight away (see Preston Williams). Most times, however, it’s a sign of a thin position, and that was the case for Miami and the right guard spot all season. Calhoun earned a promotion into the starting lineup early in camp, but never popped while watching tape.

Calhoun struggled to create any push in the running game. Any sort of nuance in terms of disguised blitzes, or gifted pass rushers for that matter, put the right side B gap in constant peril.

Julie’n Davenport (Left Tackle)
Stats: 31 total pressures (6 sacks, 9 hits, 16 hurries)
PFF Grade: 56.5 (98 of 126)
Snaps: 534 (49.5%)

Part of the lottery-sized draft haul return for Laremy Tunsil, Davenport checked off nearly all negative boxes in his debut season with the Fins. Davenport was injured multiple times — forcing him to miss eight games — and the performance left a lot to be desired.

Some of the pressures attributed to Davenport came from scheme and communication breakdowns, but he’s been beaten regularly throughout his career.

Keaton Sutherland (Guard)
Stats: 5 total pressures (0 sacks, 1 hits, 4 hurries)
PFF Grade: 46.4 (106 of 119)
Snaps: 93 (8.7%)

The replacement for Deiter in the Jets game, and frequent sixth-lineman to enter in heavy packages, Sutherland fared similarly to any poor soul that try to solve the right guard issue in Miami. Sutherland should be back for camp, but he’s got an uphill climb to make the roster.

Danny Isidora (Guard)
Stats: 5 total pressures (0 sacks, 1 hit, 4 hurries)
PFF Grade: 53.7 (85 of 119)
Snaps: 127 (11.8%)

One of the more intriguing members of the group, Isidora returned to his college stomping grounds, but was lost for the year after three games. The former Miami Hurricane was selected in the fifth-round by the Minnesota Vikings, but his development went so poorly that a team with a shaky line in its own right cut bait after two years.

Isidora is thick with sweet feet, but he struggles against any semblance of a bull rush. He has the makeup to develop into a quality player, it just hasn’t happened.

Adam Pankey (Tackle, Guard Experience)
Stats: 0 pressures
PFF Grade: 63.1 (DNQ)
Snaps: 12

He matches the size and versatility prototype for Miami — hence the decision to pluck him from Green Bay’s practice squad — but he’s tight in everything he does. He could move inside to guard (played three positions in college) but served exclusively as the sixth-lineman in heavy packages on his 12 reps. Pankey is listed as a tackle.

J’Marcus Webb (Left Tackle)
Stats: 39 total pressures (7 sacks, 6 hits, 26 hurries)
PFF Grade: 34.4 (126 of 126)
Snaps: 543 (50.3%)

Webb was an emergency addition after the Tunsil trade, and was quickly called into action in week two. He was PFF’s lowest-graded tackle in 2019.

Futures Contracts: OT Chidi Okeke, iOL Durval Neto

Exclusive Rights Free Agents:

Evan Boehm (Right Guard, Center)
Stats: 24 total pressures (1 sacks, 9 hits, 14 hurries)
PFF Grade: 47.4 (104 of 119)
Snaps: 595 (55.1%)

Boehm filled in admirably for Ryan Kelly in Indianapolis on one of 2018’s best offensive lines, but PFF didn’t like his performance this season. He was up-and-down, but his versatility and past success should make for an easy decision to bring Boehm back. He’ll compete for work at center and right guard in camp.

Evan Brown (Guard)
Stats: 1 pressure (hit)
PFF Grade: 60.6 (53 of 119)
Snaps: 38 (3.4%)

Another late-season waiver claim, Brown joins the glut of interior lineman heading into the offseason. Brown is a high-motor player that goes whistle-to-whistle, but his limited athleticism shows up regularly.

Free Agent Market (Tackles):

The Guy — Anthony Castonzo

The only premier left tackle set to his free agency, Castonzo has endured an up-and-down career, but with far more peaks than valleys. He has the size-length-athletic combination desired for a premier left tackle, and has done well to quiet the concerns over his lack of power at the point-of-attack coming out of Boston College.

Castonzo is going to fetch top-of-the-market money, whether it’s with the Colts, or on the open market. Given the quality of the left tackle draft class, it makes more sense for Miami to pursue its solution that way, and focus free agent dollars on the interior.

The Reasonable Route — George Fant

George Fant is a mountain of a man. A college hooper, his first snap with the Seahawks was his first organized football game since the eighth grade. At 27, it’s entirely feasible that he’s just now unlocking his true potential, though he’s been the Seattle swing tackle for the majority of his career.

Fant is Seattle’s swing tackle, though he’s filling in for the injured Duane Brown, and plays a lot in heavy-package personnel. He’s the mid-range free agent buy that should pique Miami’s interest as he can play both sides. Fant provides a nice surge off the edge in the ground game and has steadily progressed as a pass blocker.

The Sleeper — LaAdrian Waddle

Missing the entirety of 2019 with an injury, LaAdrian Waddle will come at a bargain this March. He last played in New England when Miami’s former Pats coaches were still with the organization. Waddle — a career backup — amassed over 2,200 snaps since his 2013 debut, committing just 15 penalties. During the 2017-2018 seasons, Waddle was flagged a combined three times.

Only 120 of Waddle’s career snaps came at left tackle, but he’s a capable swing tackle and starting right tackle in a pinch.

Other Notable Free Agent Tackles:

Player 2019 Team
Jack Conklin Titans
Andrew Whitworth Rams
Kelvin Beachum Jets
Bryan Bulaga Packers
Greg Robinson Browns
Marcus Gilbert Cardinals
Demar Dotson Buccaneers
Daryl Williams Panthers
Germain Ifedi Seahawks


The Draft (Tackles)

The Guy — Tristan Wirfs

Landing 2020’s best draft eligible tackle will require Miami to use the fifth pick. Wirfs is unicorn. He combines an unbelievably thick trunk with elite movement skills. He can washout or condense down the edge in the run game, and mirror and redirect on an island in pass protection.

He’s played both tackle positions in college (almost exclusively on the right side this year), and that experience shows up in the quickness of his kick-slide, and also how much ground he covers with his first step.

The Reasonable Route — Mekhi Becton

Watching tackle tape might not be the most entertaining for the casual fan, but Becton does his best to make it fun. He’s huge. This six-foot-seven, 370-pound monster somehow glides laterally like an elite pass rusher. He’s got plenty of reach, a powerful punch, and has some of the most comical tape you’ll see in college football when he’s out in space on poor, unassuming defensive backs.

Tua Tagovailoa is probably the favorite of the entire draft to wind up in Miami; Becton is second, for my money. He fits everything the Dolphins tried to find with all the tackle acquisitions last season.

The Sleeper — Lucas Niang

A potential first-rounder in October, Niang suffered a torn ACL, and will surely be available late on day-two, if not day-three. Injuries are a bit of a concern as he opened the season with a hip injury. Keeping up with the theme, he matches the size-length-athleticism profile that Miami will covet.

Niang has immense power at the point-of-attack and plenty of athleticism to pull play-side or come across on counter trey. His medical prognosis projects Niang will be available for camp, and that could result in an opening day starting gig.

Travis Wingfield’s 2020 Tackle Draft Rankings:

(Rank) Player School
1. Tristan Wirfs Iowa
2. Jedrick Wills Alabama
3. Andrew Thomas Georgia
4. Mekhi Becton Louisville
5. Lucas Niang TCU
6. Austin Jackson USC
7. Prince Tega Wanogho Auburn
8. Josh Jones Houston
9. Calvin Throckmorton Oregon
10. Jack Driscoll Auburn


Free Agent Market (Guards):

The Guy — Joe Thuney

If the Dolphins are going to make any day-one splash signings, it has to be the Patriots Left Guard. Thuney’s missed 15 snaps in the last three seasons. He’s one of the game’s best pass protecting guards, and his leadership and intelligence profile grade as well as any in football.

Thuney was advised to skip a portion on the 50-question Wonderlic exam given to every prospect at the combine. Thuney left 11 questions blank, but hit 1.000 on the 39 questions he answered. Given his familiarity with Brian Flores and several Dolphins coaches, this move makes as much sense as any potential offseason acquisition across the league.

The Reasonable Route — Graham Glasgow

It’s been reported that Glasgow will test the free agent market in March, and Stephen Ross might have some interest in bringing his fellow Michigan alum down to South Florida. Glasgow has 3,748 snaps under his belt in a four-year career, nearly identically split across left guard, center and right guard.

The 2019 season was his best. Glasgow committed four fouls, didn’t allow a sack, and only put his QB in harm’s way five times (5 QB hits allowed). Glasgow finished as PFF’s seventh-ranked run-blocking guard.

The Sleeper — Ted Karras

With the depletion of the center market (Creed Humphrey returning to school), Miami’s best course of action might be to stay the status quo and develop Michael Deiter and Evan Boehm for the position.

Or they can import another player familiar with the program from New England via Ted Karras.

Karras filled in admirably for the unavailable David Andrews this season, giving the Pats 1,040 snaps. He’s likely to find a starting job elsewhere, as Andrews will assume his original spot next year. Karras allowed 14 pressures and committed just three fouls on the season.

Other Notable Free Agent Guards/Centers:

Player 2019 Team
G Brandon Scherff Washington
G Andrus Peat Saints
G Mike Iupati Seahawks
G Ereck Flowers Washington
G Quinton Spain Bills
C Brett Jones Vikings
Stefan Wisniewski Chiefs
Jon Halapio Giants


The Draft (Guards/Centers)

The Guy — Nick Harris (Center)

Last year, Garrett Bradbury blew scouts away at the Senior Bowl for his football acumen, and incredible work in space. Harris might be even better operating in the open field, and in the football IQ department. He’s a three-year starter with guard and center experience, including three straight Apple Cup displays of dominance.

He’s squatty at a smidge over 300 pounds, but can unlock his hips and uses functional strength and flexibility to hit and hold reach blocks, and anchor against powerful pass rushers. Exporting Harris to a man/gap scheme would be limiting the traits that make him the best center in the class — zone player all the way.

The Reasonable Route — Shane Lemieux (Left Guard)

Shane Lemieux had the most impressive series for any guard I watch this season in the Arizona State game. He’s never missed a game, and that experience shows for his ability to perfectly execute combination blocks and climb to the second level.

Lemieux has seen all the exotic blitz and game packages a defensive front can throw at him, a product of his consecutive starts streak that spans four years and 51 games. He’s not the most-fluid athlete and probably won’t do a lot of pulling at the next level.

The Sleeper — Cesar Ruiz (Center)

Quickly rising up pundit’s boards in the post-season tape evaluation period, Ruiz arrived in Ann Arbor as the nations’ top-rated center recruit. His best trait is the ability to reset and anchor after the initial move of the rusher, and he pairs functional strength with plus-athleticism. Ruiz is an arrow-up player who improved significantly during his junior season.

Travis Wingfield’s 2020 Interior O-Line Draft Rankings:

(Rank) Player School
1. Nick Harris Washington
2. John Simpson Clemson
3. Cesar Ruiz Michigan
4. Darryl Williams Mississippi State
5. Lloydy Cushenberry LSU


This is the most critical area for Miami in a critical offseason — outside of the quarterback decision, obviously. If it’s Tua, or another QB the team uses the fifth selection to anoint as the savior, protecting said QB would be a wise decision.

There are scheme fits littered throughout the draft at tackle, a couple at guard, and minimal options at center. The free agency class is loaded at guard, but weak at tackle and center. The Dolphins have the resources to import a new line, and could conceivably do so utilizing both free agency and the draft.

Things are buttoned up pretty tightly in Davie these days, but it’s safe to assume some moves will happen up front. The offensive line, and backfield after injuries and trades, were the only portions of the offense that didn’t function at a level above league-average.

The Dolphins can, and should, fix that this winter/spring.

2020 Offensive Line Prediction:

Left Tackle — Mekhi Becton
Left Guard — Joe Thuney
Center — Michael Deiter
Right Guard — Shane Lemieux
Right Tackle — Jesse Davis
Swing Tackle — George Fant
Swing Interior — Evan Boehm
Off the Bench — Shaq Calhoun


Tuesday: Defensive Line

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar


    January 12, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    sounds like Miami is gonna need a LT, C, RG, and maybe a LG. Maybe Miami can find a free agent or two to sign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins’ Jones and Howard land in top 10 CB rankings

Shawn Digity



Xavien Howard
Image courtesy of Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – On Tuesday night, CBS Sports HQ revealed its power rankings for the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

And in their top 10 rankings, the Miami Dolphins landed two players: Xavien Howard and Byron Jones.

The rankings were created by Patrik Walker through the CBS Sports HQ Twitter account and are indicative of where Walker sees the league’s top corners as they enter the 2020 season.

Jones came in at six, and Howard landed at eight.

Howard was shut down for the most part in 2019 but saw his first Pro Bowl after the 2018 season, where he caught seven interceptions, tying for the most. Howard is going into his fifth year, all with the Dolphins.

Howard was selected in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Byron Jones joined the Miami Dolphins earlier in 2020 after signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract and is slated to start across from Howard.

Jones is going into his sixth year in the NFL after originally being selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 2015 Draft, 27 overall.

Regardless of their positional rankings, there will be high expectations for the cornerback tandem as they are projected to be the starters and already have a proven track record in the NFL.

Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Are the Dolphins Done Reshaping the Roster for 2020?

Kevin Dern



Unless you’ve been in the deepest of quarantines by now you’ve familiarized yourself with Miami’s offseason moves. The Dolphins brought in 12 free agents, 11 draft picks, traded for a running back, and signed 10 undrafted free agents. That’s 34 new names on the 90 man roster as we [hopefully] gear up for training camp in a month and a half.  Despite all the moves, Miami currently has four roster spots open. That’s 86 spots, not counting Durval Queiroz Neto, who is roster exempt, so the question has to be asked: Are they done for now?

We all know that changes will happen in camp. There could be a surprised UDFA or two that makes the roster. Someone could, and likely will, get injured to free up a spot. But, for right *NOW* are the Dolphins done?

I tend not to think so. So who might they be after? I don’t have any inside information, but from what media information we know, and some of my own speculation, I’ve got four names I suspect Miami might be onto. Two big fish and two guys that might be a little more under the radar.

Logan Ryan
The biggest name thus far Miami has been linked to is former Titans and Patriots Cornerback Logan Ryan. Sports Illustrated’s Alain Poupart had this story on May 14th.

Aside from the obvious connection to Dolphins Head Coach Brian Flores, Logan Ryan checks a lot of boxes Miami’s looked for this offseason.  Ryan’s a smart, team-first guy. He’s got position flexibility – able to play on the perimeter or in the slot and he already knows Miami’s defensive system.

But, corners in this league are expensive. It appears that Logan Ryan wants a one-year “prove it” deal. He’s betting on himself and cited Titans QB Ryan Tannehill as one of the reasons why. And per the Miami Herald, Logan Ryan’s agents have told the Dolphins he wants $10M or more for a year. That’s pricey, but Logan Ryan might be worth it; let’s take a look.

In this first clip, you can’t see him at the snap, but he’ll come in from the slot on the offense’s left side and isn’t afraid to stick his nose in against the run and stops Nick Chubb for a short gain.

Later in the same game, he gets a sack on Baker Mayfield (Yes, this play was ruled a sack). Ryan will come in from the right side of the screen, again the offense’s left, on a slot blitz. He gets blocked but is able to redirect and chases Baker Mayfield down for the sack.

Finally, in this clip, he plays press man against T.Y. Hilton from the slot. That’s a valuable skill Miami will like. Hilton’s going to try and break outside, but Logan Ryan reads the play, and showcases a nice burst to secure the pick.

Ultimately, signing Logan Ryan gives Miami a proven slot player who can also play man coverage on the perimeter, allowing Miami to matchup their defense however they please. He’d also gives them a buffer from having to having to give Noah Igbinoghene a ton of snaps right off the bat, if they so desire. At worst, you could spoon feed Igbinoghene at first until he’s grasped his role, then you can increase his snaps. And with Ryan looking for a one year deal, that might be amenable to all parties.

Larry Warford
It’s not too often at this stage of the offseason there’s a 29 year old (turns 29 on June 18th), three-time Pro Bowl guard is available. But that’s just what Larry Warford is. Saints Coach Sean Payton once said that he likes his guards to “have mass and ass” in order to keep a clean, firm middle of the pocket for Drew Brees to operate. Well, if there’s one rookie quarterback this year that is built like and operates like Drew Brees, it’s Tua Tagovailoa. And, between you and me, I think Tua’s going to end up playing a lot sooner than people think.

What adding Larry Warford would likely do for Miami is solidify four of the five starting offensive line spots. If Miami signed him, I think it’s safe to assume Miami would have (from left to right) Austin Jackson, Ereck Flowers, Ted Karras, Larry Warford, and a battle between Jesse Davis and Robert Hunt. That’s a battle that Miami likely would want Hunt to win, as you can keep Jesse Davis as a swing tackle and guard. It would also allow them to bring Solomon Kindley along slowly. I didn’t watch it, but have heard that either Flores and/or Grier compared Kindley to Shaq Mason, who was a project that the Patriots brought along because he didn’t have much pass-blocking experience coming from Georgia Tech’s option offense. Well, with Kindley it gives you a chance to hone his game in total for a year or two while getting a veteran who walks in the door the best lineman the Dolphins would have.

Three quick clips of Larry Warford for you coming up.

First, we’ll see Warford and RT Ryan Ramczyk block up a T-E game. The DT is going to go outside and J.J. Watt comes inside to Warford. They switch it with relative ease and Warford is so big that J.J. Watt can’t generate a pop to knock Warford back and collapse the pocket.

Next, and this one is quick. It’s a jet sweep to Kamara going the other way, but look at Larry throwing bodies out the club! That kind of punch is something Miami haven’t had in a guard since Richie Incognito was in town.

Finally, we see a rep against DT D.J. Reader, who got paid this offseason. Reader’s listed at 347lbs, and someone that large shouldn’t be moved that easily.

Warford gives you size, smarts and strength inside. And, if Miami are going to possibly have a rookie RT in Robert Hunt, that kind of veteran presence can help bring him up to speed quickly. For my money, I’d sign Larry Warford over Logan Ryan since Miami’s Defensive Staff seemed to be able to bring in DBs off the street and get them up to speed enough to start in the same week. Kudos to Josh Boyer for that, but I think there’s more value in bringing in Warford now, and possibly for the next two or three years, than there is for Logan Ryan on a one year deal.

That said, both players would make the Dolphins better and I’m not opposed to Logan Ryan by any means.

Damon Harrison
Okay, so you’ve probably heard of “Snacks” Harrison before. But did you realize he was still out there as a free agent? Kudos if you did. Miami signing “Snacks” doesn’t seem like it’d be in the cards. Harrison is 31 years old, had a tough year last year with injuries in Detroit to the point he contemplated retirement, but hear me out.

Wind the clock back to 2018 when Brian Flores was calling the Patriots Defense. Same defense Miami’s running now. The Patriots had over 1,000 total snaps on defense that year. Danny Shelton played just 31% of them, with 324 total snaps. NT in this defense is a part-time position.

That year the Patriots gave out the following snaps to interior defensive linemen:

Malcom Brown – 456 (43.7%)
Lawrence Guy – 519 (49.8%)
Adam Butler – 379 (36.3%)
Danny Shelton – 324 (31.1%)

With Miami’s drafting of Raekwon Davis, you sort of assume he and Godchaux are going to take on the roles of Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton. Christian Wilkins takes on the role of Lawrence Guy, and perhaps Raekwon Davis takes some of those snaps as well to keep him fresh. As of now, I’d expect Zach Sieler to take on Adam Butler’s workload, which was a rotational DT and someone who can be used on passing downs; Sieler has more skill there than Godchaux or Davis in my opinion.

But what if Miami were able to bring in “Snacks” Harrison to take on that NT role? It’d allow you to give Davis more focused snaps and let him use some of his upfield ability to help spell Godchaux and take on that Adam Butler role. It might mean the end for Zach Sieler in Miami, who is on an Exclusive Rights Free Agent Tender for this year. No harm if you move on.

So what would snacks bring to the table? First, like Logan Ryan, he knows the system to some degree having played under Matt Patricia in Detroit. There may be some differences here an there, but he can pick that up, and it’s a specialized role. Two, he’s a proven run-stopper. Even last year with the Lions with all his injuries he was still effective. Let’s take a look.

Here’s a back-to-back play sequence against the Eagles in Week 3.

First, Harrison’s actually lined up at 3-technique against Brandon Brooks, one of the most underrated players in the NFL. “Snacks” will never confuse for Aaron Donald and he doesn’t muster much of a rush, but he stays with the play and gets his hand up to deflect Carson Wentz’s pass.

The very next play is what he does best. Lined up as a true NT, he ushers Jason Kelce away with one arm, plays down the line horizontally and stops Miles Sanders for no gain. That’s what you like to see out of someone who is 6’3” and 350lbs.

Against the Packers you’ll see him as a 3-technique again and he defeats a double-team by Billy Turner and Bryan Bulaga and makes a run stop on Aaron Jones.

The final clip for “Snacks” comes when he gets a sack of Aaron Rodgers later in that same game. He’s going to work off a double-team by Billy Turner and Corey Linsley, gets around it, and though he’s out of his pass rush lane he keeps working and dumps Rodgers for a sack.

The knocks against “Snacks” are that he’s older than every player on the Dolphins roster save for Ryan Fitzpatrick. He battled through injuries, contemplated retirement and told ESPN that he was “hell-bent” on getting out of Detroit. Did he not like the system? The coaches? How does that parlay into Miami if he signs here considering Flores and Patricia’s backgrounds intertwine in Foxboro? While I think this signing might be more unlikely than both Logan Ryan and Larry Warford, it wouldn’t shock me given Miami’s defensive scheme and the players that Brian Flores has traditionally seen in that role.

Mike Weber
Going a little off the beaten path here. The Chiefs waived Mike Weber, who was a seventh round draft pick for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. Weber rushed for 1,000+ yards as a redshirt freshman at Ohio State, replacing Ezekiel Elliott. An injury in summer workouts the next year opened the door and J.K. Dobbins passed him on the depth chart, but Weber still rushed for 626 yards and 10 TDs that year. He tallied nearly 1,100 yards and nine more TDs as Dobbins backup in 2018, and declared for the Draft.

Going to Dallas, Weber wasn’t going to get much of a shot behind Ezekiel Elliott, especially after Elliott’s contract extension. He also was beaten out by Tony Pollard in 2019 for the backup job. Weber spent time with the Chiefs on their practice squad during their Super Bowl Run.

Weber has yet to collect a carry in the NFL during the Regular Season, so I don’t have clips for you here. My rationale for Miami possibly being interested in Weber is that Miami had a strong interest in J.K. Dobbins during the Draft this year. Weber played in that same offense at Ohio State and put up big numbers as well. In my opinion, he was more physical as a runner, but lacked the explosiveness. He goes 5’10” 210lbs, so he’s bridging the gap in size between Jordan Howard and Matt Breida.

Kalen Ballage hasn’t proven very effective doing much of anything. Patrick Laird is a nice story, but is probably best served by playing on special teams. We didn’t see much of Myles Gaskin in 2019, save for the Bengals game in Week 16, so he’s still a bit of an unknown. With four open roster spots, what’s the harm in bringing in Weber for a look?

We’ll see what Miami does, and they could very well opt to do nothing. But Logan Ryan, Larry Warford, Damon Harrison, are three guys I think they ought to consider. Each of the three, in my opinion, makes the position group on the Dolphins better they moment they walk in the door. Mike Weber would be more of a reclamation project, but I like his odds of competing against Kalen Ballage, Patrick Laird, and Myles Gaskin for a potential roster spot.

Stay safe and FinsUp!



Continue Reading

Miami Dolphins

Setting the Edge: Miami’s New Additions Up Front

Kevin Dern



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

Continue Reading