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.
The converse of the running back position, the Miami Dolphins receivers entered the season with little expectation and turned into one of the better units in all of football.
Devante Parker etched his name near the top of a lot of franchise record lists with a dominant 1,200-yard season. Preston Williams was on-pace to beat the undrafted rookie receiving yardage record in the Super Bowl era before a knee injury cut his season short. Albert Wilson looked healthy for the first time since last October and Allen Hurns provided a quality slot option.
One big decision lies ahead of the Dolphins this offseason with regards to Wilson’s contract. He’s owed $9.5 million, but releasing the Port St. Lucie native will carry just a $1.3 million cap hit. Perhaps the Dolphins can re-work the deal to backload money, requiring Wilson to prove his complete return from the hip injury. He came on the final three weeks of the season, and that was without coming all the way back to full health — next year will be all systems go.
Parker and Williams (when fully recovered from the November ACL injury) are a budding perimeter tandem, and Grant offers a stark juxtaposition to the style of play from the aforementioned trees. Grant is a suitable perimeter backup with elite return ability. Inside, Miami are stocked with Wilson, Hurns, and impending ERFA Isaiah Ford.
Stats: 72 receptions (56.3%), 1,202 yards (16.7 YPR, 9.4 YPT), 9 TDs
PFF Grade: 79.2 (21 of 200)
Snaps: 909 (84%)
“Devante looks different this year. Stronger, smoother, more imposing.” That was my note from watching the 2015 first-round pick at training camp, and the uber-talented pass catcher vindicated that note. He dominated some of the game’s best corners. He was fifth in football in receiving yards, and he plucked 50-50 balls at a rate that should really change the metric to 70-30 chances.
Me at training camp: Devante Parker looks different. Added muscle and definition, fast, loose. Probably his best chance to stay healthy and have that breakout year.
Devante Parker: pic.twitter.com/qj37IEhAQN
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 1, 2019
Note the situation, the matchup… this is ELITE from Devante Parker. pic.twitter.com/hz50nYAXRC
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 29, 2019
The first-team all-pro cornerback tandem resides in the AFC East. Miami played Buffalo in November and New England in December games that saw Parker draw Tre’Davious White and Stephon Gilmore to the tune of 14 pass targets. Parker caught 12 of the 14 passes for 199 yards, including utter domination both at the catch point and in his route running against Gilmore.
You can’t see the route develop, but this is man coverage and Parker creates a solid five yards of separation on Gilmore. Then finishes the play with attitude. pic.twitter.com/JddXwED0QI
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 29, 2019
If Parker can repeat his offseason focus of a dedicated workout regimen and nutrition discipline, there’s no reason to believe that this is the player Miami will get for the next four years. Four years of dominance at a rate that pays him the same annual salary as Devin Funchess got from the Colts last March.
Stats: 32 receptions (53.3%), 428 yards (13.4 YPR, 7.1 YPT), 3 TDs
PFF Grade: 67.7 (67 of 200)
Snaps: 404 (37.4%)
Williams was the team’s number-one receiver prior to his injury. The rookie was breaking through post-bye in a manner that had fans believing he’d take on the same trajectory that Parker currently occupies. Williams can sink his hips at the top of the route like a short, shifty slot receiver. He can get vertical and stack defensive backs with acceleration. He had first-round talent coming out, but off-field red flags turned him into a priority free agent.
They ran Preston Williams along the end line in every goal-to-go package I saw at camp. Here, he stacks his man and scores the first TD of the 2019 season. pic.twitter.com/akmmkeb22A
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 8, 2019
Drops are an issue, but that’s a correctable problem. Williams creates consistent separation and runs the full complement of routes. Miami would be wise to ease him back from the ACL injury that occurred the first weekend in November. We might not see the complete return of the unicorn until 2021, but he’s worth the wait.
Stats: 43 receptions (69.4%), 351 yards (8.2 YPR, 5.7 YPT), 1 TD
PFF Grade: 62.3 (123 of 200)
Snaps: 439 (40.1%)
An underrated, electrifying first year in Miami came to a premature end with a devastating hip injury in 2018, and it took nearly all of 2019 for Wilson to return to form. When he did, he offered the short-area burst and explosion that single-handedly defeated the Bears two years ago.
We’re gonna get a deep shot to Parker eventually, but here he does a good job getting the inside release to create the natural rub. Then it’s Wilson doing Wilson things. pic.twitter.com/e9Rw7Tl4wW
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) December 15, 2019
Wilson spent all of camp doing work on the side of the field during team periods. He rushed it back and missed more games in 2019. By late December, he was finally back to making tacklers miss and providing Ryan Fitzpatrick with a reliable underneath target. His ability to carry the football will go a long way in an offense that loves fly sweep, jet motion, and pre-snap window dressing.
This all hinges on what happens with his contract in the coming months.
Stats: 19 receptions (57.6%), 164 yards (8.6 YPR, 5.0 YPT), 0 TD
PFF Grade: 62.1 (127 of 200)
Snaps: 217 (20.1%)
Grant is here for the 2020 season, but it’s the biggest year of his football career. He must remain healthy and finally make good on the potential he has teased fans with for his entire career. He has an out in his contract in 2021 that will require he gives Miami more. Many believe he’s a slot receiver, but Grant’s far more proficient outside the numbers. He has game-changing speed and darts through defenses when presented the slightest crease.
Fastest man in football. Jakeem with a sensational kick return. pic.twitter.com/xVUCT4yrPf
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 17, 2019
Grant has been one of the game’s best — if not the gold standard — return men for a couple years running. His contract is commensurate with a part-time receiver (perfect complement outside to Parker and Williams) and a full-time return ace. He needs to be exactly that.
Stats: 47 receptions (68.1%), 416 yards (13.0 YPR, 8.9 YPT), 2 TDs
PFF Grade: 57.0 (160 of 200)
Snaps: 523 (48.5%)
Hurns was a camp addition that was thought to be just a body for the numbers game, but he earned a two-year extension in-season with his consistent performances. Hurns dropped way too many passes, and he’ll have to clean that up to break camp with the team.
Stats: 1 target, no receptions
PFF Grade: N/A
Snaps: 16 (1.5%)
Hollins was a special teams’ dynamo in college and with the Eagles, but never materialized as a threat on offense. The Dolphins called upon his services when the group was decimated by injury. He’ll have an uphill climb to make the team.
PFF Grade: N/A
Snaps: 1 (.09%)
Jennings was a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks last April, and didn’t finish the year with the team. He arrived in Miami and hurt himself on Grant’s kick return touchdown celebration in the Buffalo game.
Futures Contracts: Andy Jones, T.J. Rahming, Terry Wright
Unrestricted Free Agents: Trevor Davis
Restricted Free Agents: Ricardo Louis, Isaiah Ford*
*denotes priority player
Stats: 23 receptions (65.7%), 244 yards (10.6 YPR, 7.0 YPT), 0 TD
PFF Grade: 68.9 (79 of 200)
Snaps: 224 (20.8%)
Ford’s Dolphins career was on the line prior to this December call up. He’s out of practice squad options and two knee injuries figured to put his South Beach stay in jeopardy. Then, Ford ended the 2019 season with 21 catches, 235 yards and a touchdown over the final four games.
Rudock getting that Dolphins OL treatment. Goes off script and finds Isaiah Ford, who makes a hell of a catch. pic.twitter.com/PhJjkFKSmV
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) August 30, 2019
He’ll be cheap to retain and has the physicality off the line of scrimmage and catch point to win a lot of the short, slot routes this offense requires.
The Guy — Emmanuel Sanders
If we’re talking about a premier slot option to create a triumvirate with the incumbent Parker and Williams, look no further than Sanders. He has game-breaking speed, he’s one of the league’s most nuanced route runners, and offers the inside-outside versatility this program covets.
— NFL (@NFL) September 15, 2019
The 49ers have to make Sanders a priority as he helped transform the passing game upon his in-season acquisition from Denver. He’ll be 33-years-old next year, but touchdowns count the same regardless of age, and Sanders can still beat the game’s best nickel corners. He quelled some injury concerns this year by playing in 17 games.
The Reasonable Route — Phillip Dorsett
Free agency isn’t the route Miami should look to improve this unit, if it does at all. However, if Dorsett’s market softens in the offseason, the Dolphins could look to bring the former Hurricane back home. Dorsett plays outside four times as often as he does in the slot, but he has the speed and versatility to give Miami’s offense something it could lack next year.
Dorsett’s familiarity with the current staff is worth mentioning.
The Sleeper — Nelson Agholor
Miami are going to be a program that takes small gambles on reclamation projects; be warned. Agholor has more tribulations than triumphs in his brief career, but he plays a near-even split on the perimeter and slot, and his 2017 season demonstrated his true potential.
Other Notable Free Agent Wide Receivers:
The Guy — Laviska Shenault
This distinction is more about fit than best player. Shenault is a rich man’s Albert Wilson. He has a thick lower-half that allows him to stay compact as he gets in and out of his breaks, and shakes tacklers both in space and short areas with ease.
Laviska Shenault Jr. does incredible things every game pic.twitter.com/LwZxPT12we
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 24, 2019
He’s a first-round pick, no question about it. The question for Miami, is a perfect scheme fit reason enough to select a player at a position that might be the only satisfactory unit on the team? Shenault played H-back, tailback, in-line Y, X, Z, slot, and wildcat triggerman for the Colorado offense. He’s an absolute beast.
The Reasonable Route — Tyler Johnson
Possibly the best route runner in the class, all Tyler Johnson did was produce for an upstart Minnesota program. He’s big enough to play outside, and shifty enough to win with regularity inside. He catches everything and has the intelligence-feet pairing that allows him to excel in a sight-adjustment offense.
Tyler Johnson is just another stud receiver in this year’s class. 1v1 to the boundary, little crossover step, stacks the freshman DB, one handed grab — then accesses grown man mode to finish the play. pic.twitter.com/uj3sc7ZbbC
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 9, 2019
He’s not physically imposing, so pre-snap shifting and alignments off the line-of-scrimmage might be necessary, but he’ll always be in the right place and work off of leverage as well as any receiver.
The Sleeper — Jalen Reagor
Calling Reagor a sleeper is a tad disingenuous, but the deep class could force him down the board a bit — no later than the third-round. His game relies on natural athleticism and sheer explosiveness. He has the easy gas to blow by defenders, and the quick-twitch to separate quickly.
Rewatched some TCU-Baylor yesterday. Jalen Reagor is so dangerous. Should be one of the nation's best in 2019. pic.twitter.com/UbHo3IFGaF
— Max Olson (@max_olson) May 7, 2019
He will fight the football and that leads to drops. The concentration lapses and lack of overall route tree experience in college makes him something of a developmental player, but someone figures to steal this game-breaker on day-two.
Travis Wingfield’s 2020 Wide Receiver Draft Rankings:
|1. Ceedee Lamb||Oklahoma|
|2. Jerry Jeudy||Alabama|
|3. Tee Higgins||Clemson|
|4. Henry Ruggs||Alabama|
|5. Laviska Shenault Jr.||Colorado|
|6. Tyler Johnson||Minnesota|
|7. Justin Jefferson||LSU|
|8. K.J. Hamler||Penn State|
|9. Jalen Reagor||TCU|
|10. Devin Duverney||Texas|
Every part of those draft rankings — picking the three targets, as well as the top 10 — was challenging. This year’s class is the deepest in decades with a mix of speed/size guys, and outside/insider players. For Miami, finding a version of Julian Edelman is the top priority, given the likelihood that the perimeter positions are taken care of for the foreseeable future.
Adding a layer to the difficulty, Miami have three viable options to fill that role. Albert Wilson is best from the slot, but also acts as a quasi-tailback that can line up anywhere between the numbers. Allen Hurns is a reliable slot with a knack for finding the soft spots against leverage and presenting a quick target for the quarterback, and Isaiah Ford’s emergence down the stretch demonstrated some valuable traits.
The hope, for the Dolphins, is that this loaded class pushes some talent into day-three and presents an opportunity for a steal. It’s difficult to imagine a premium pick or high-priced free agent as a priority for the team this offseason.
2020 Wide Receiver Prediction:
Go-To Guy — Devante Parker
The Sidekick — Preston Williams
The Slot — Albert Wilson
Off the Bench — Jakeem Grant
Off the Bench — Isaiah Ford
Off the Bench — Allen Hurns
Tomorrow: Tight Ends
Miami Dolphins meeting with Jordan Love at the Senior Bowl
Mobile, Alabama (Locked On Dolphins) – Senior Bowl week is underway, and Tuesday set into motion the first practice.
The Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, January 25, at 1:30 p.m. Central Time.
Tuesday featured weigh-ins and measurements, and as per usual, the quarterback hand sizes became a viral trend on twitter.
As it relates to the headline, Jordan Love’s hands were measured at 10 5/8 inches, which was the biggest of all the quarterbacks.
It might not necessarily matter since coaches and analysts can go either way on a prospect’s hand size. But it could matter for someone who was already on the fence about Jordan Love.
It could’ve been the dealbreaker, too, for those who were already on the fence.
I mention the conflicting perspectives on hand sizes because it’s a perfect segue into the controversy and questions surrounding Jordan Love’s draft stock and pro prospects.
Now here’s the kicker.
The polarizing quarterback from Utah State will be meeting with the Dolphins at the Senior Bowl, per Joe Schad.
Utah State QB Jordan Love says he’s meeting with the Miami Dolphins at Senior Bowl
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 21, 2020
Hand sizes aside, it’s certainly worth noting that the Dolphins want to meet with Love.
It’s almost a certainty that the Dolphins want to and will address the quarterback position in the 2020 Draft, and Love offers a lot of desired characteristics for the job.
And there’s already been interest before from the Miami Dolphins, according to Tony Pauline.
Pauline has stated that the team was intrigued by the Aggie quarterback after his breakout 2018 season.
While Jordan Love’s 2019 season was tumultuous, to say the least, the moldable potential as a pro is evident.
Jordan Love is a likely draft riser now that the 2019 season is behind him. A good showing during the practices and the Senior Bowl will further help his cause, but Love is already looking at being selected in the teens or 20s.
The meeting, it’s fuel on the fire. In preparation for a scenario where the Dolphins cannot or do not get Tua Tagovailoa, the team could be exercising their due diligence to formulate a Plan B in that event.
It never hurts to be overprepared.
The content and reasoning of the meeting itself will remain surreptitious but will invite hypotheses regarding a Miami Dolphins-Jordan Love marriage.
Could he be the face of the franchise?
Is he the next Patrick Mahomes?
Can he make it as a pro?
Sure, there’s uncertainty with drafting Love, but the thing is, the connection makes sense. There’s a lot to like about Jordan Love, but he needs breathing room going into the NFL. The Miami Dolphins can offer him that, which would be favorable for his development.
It’s a good fit. And the logic is there.
It’s worth keeping tabs on Jordan Love’s draft journey, and we’ll see what unfolds from the meeting, if anything.
There’s a real shot that Jordan Love is the Miami Dolphins guy moving into 2020 and beyond. The meeting could be the first step in that process…
Or maybe they just want to talk about his hand size.
Senior Bowl 2020 Preview Through Miami Dolphins Lens – Defense
Best Dolphins scheme fits, and the price to acquire said players, taking the field this week at the Senior Bowl
By the time the popcorn is popped, the ball is teed up, and the fans have filed into the Ladd-Pebble’s stadium, most of the scouts, evaluators and decision makers have vacated Mobile, Alabama, the home of the Reese’s Senior Bowl.
It’s not that the game is devoid of value; it just pales in comparison to the value of the entire week of practices. Simulated situations pit college football’s best players against one-another in true tests of their abilities.
Change-of-direction, clean mechanics, competitiveness, all of these important traits are readily apparent in the padded practices that occur from Tuesday through Thursday in front of everyone who is anyone in the National Football League.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to prospect evaluation. Even after a nine-month process that begins at summer camp for area scouts, the best-drafting teams in the NFL still only hit on roughly half of their picks. But if there were a way to expedite the process of rifling through the hundreds of draft-eligible players, these practices are it.
We get a first-hand look at how players fare against elite college competition, repeatedly. Game-speed is on display. Lateral agility and movement skills are tested. The bounce back from a bad rep and jumping right back into the fire gives us insight on how players respond to adversity in short order. The clues we find in Mobile sends us back to the tape to re-evaluate our boards, and ultimately spit our final rankings and evaluations.
In case you’re new to Locked On Dolphins, this is how we covered the Senior Bowl last January.
Since everything we do is Dolphins specific, we’re looking at scheme fits. We’ll track which players the Dolphins meet with, and who impresses the most at the biggest positions of need.
In addition to projecting best possible scheme fits, we’ll factor in draft value when selecting the best possible player from each group for your Miami Dolphins. For instance, neither Justin Herbert or Jordan Love will be the top QB selected simply because of their high-end first-round draft status. If Miami selects Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth pick, Herbet and Love are off the board entirely.
It’s one of my personal favorite weeks of the year, so let’s get into part-two, the defense.
Senior Bowl Defense
The defensive side of the ball is loaded this week in Mobile. Gap-control rushers, interior pocket collapsers, on-and-off-ball linebackers and a secondary chock full of ball hawks, there are multiple future Dolphins in this group.
By now, we know that Miami are one of three teams in the league — four now with Joe Judge at the top of a program — that shops from an exclusive store. Bigger, stronger edge players that make up for a lack of athleticism with brute power and gap integrity. Versatile defensive backs that must excel in man coverage. Linebackers that can rush the quarterback from a variety of positions. These are the core tenants of the Patriots, Lions, and Dolphins defense, and perhaps the Giants under new management with Patrick Graham.
It’ll be impossible to highlight just a couple of players, so unlike the offensive side, we’ll discuss multiple players at each spot. As always, we’ll have even more detail on the Locked On Dolphins Podcast.
Bradlee Anae (UTAH), Darrion Daniels (NEB), Marlon Davidson (AUB), Raekwon Davis (ALA), Leki Fotu (UTAH), Neville Gallimore (OK), Trevis Gipson (TULS), Jonathan Greenard (FLA), Davon Hamilton (OSU), Trevon Hill (MIA), Benito Jones (MISS), Javon Kinlaw (SC), Larrell Murchison (NCST), Alton Robinson (SYR), Jason Strowbridge (UNC), Kenny Willekes (MSU), Robert Windsor (PSU), Jabari Zuniga (FLA)
Best Fins Fit — Bradlee Anae, Utah
Anae is a 6-foot-3, 260-plus-pound edge that Miami will covet in this year’s draft. He’s a refined rusher with multiple moves in the arsenal, and the ability to angle inside as a rusher to expand the stunt game on the defensive line.
I'm surprised Bradlee Anae isn't getting a lot more national attention as a draft prospect. One of the best technicians in this EDGE class. (Beat top OT prospect Austin Jackson here). Love the violent finish. pic.twitter.com/ebvkgN6gSl
— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) January 10, 2020
He’s not the most athletic rusher, but that’s not part of the prerequisites of playing edge in this scheme. New England never valued athleticism at end, and I don’t suspect Brian Flores will either. Dig-out or kick-out blocks are often a futile effort against Anae because of his long arms and ability to disengage quickly.
Projected Required Investment — Mid-Round Pick, Rounds 3-4
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Base 5-Tech, Kick Inside in Nickle Rush Packages
Hardly a far cry from former Patriot, current Lion, and once a Near-Dolphin Trey Flowers, Anae is a power run defender that can redirect as a pass rusher on his way to stopping the ground game.
The moment the card is turned in, Anae becomes the best base defensive end on the team. While that’s an indictment of Miami’s roster, it’s also a testament to Anae’s skill set. He provides the versatility to kick inside on long yardage situations.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Pit Drill
This will be an area to either showcase Anae’s impressive heavy hands, or an opportunity to expose his limited athleticism. Again, the Dolphins don’t care much about the latter, and typically it’s the players with better moves in their arsenal that win in this drill.
Keep an Eye On — Jason Strowbridge, North Carolina
Something of a tweener for the rest of the league, Strowbridge fits right in at home in Miami. He entered college as a 245-pound end, and now he’s nearing three bills on the scale. Accordingly, Strowbridge has some explosion and wiggle that is unique to a player of his size.
Ridiculous play in a phone booth from UNC senior DT Jason Strowbridge. Watch #55
Push/pull the OT, then the awareness that a backside puller is coming, avoids that block, and finds the RB 👀
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) September 24, 2019
He won’t be a base defensive tackle, but he is more than capable of fulfilling the 4-tech spot in bear fronts, or play the play-side 3-tech in even fronts. Leki Fotu is a Danny Shelton clone and Neville Gallimore and Javon Kinlaw are explosive, powerful interior rush presences, but will likely require a first-round selection. Strowbridge is a day-three player.
Zack Baun (WIS), Francis Bernard (UTAH), Jordyn Brooks (TT), Cameron Brown (PSU), Carter Coughlin (MIN), Akeem Davis-Gaither (APP), Troy Dye (ORE), Malik Harrison (OSU), Khaleke Hudson (MICH), Anfernee Jennings (ALA), Terrell Lewis (ALA), Kamal Martin (MIN), Davion Taylor (COL), Darrell Taylor (TEN), Josh Uche (MICH), Evan Weaver (CAL), Logan Wilson (WYO), D.J. Wonnum (SC)
Best Fins Fit — Zack Baun, Wisconsin
Baun, just like Vince Biegel and Andrew Van Ginkel before him, has the same traits that attracted Miami to the pair of Badger ‘Backers. Baun is the best of the three. He’s especially adept at executing games (stunts, twists, slants) because of his lateral agility.
Wisconsin EDGE and Senior Bowler Zack Baun is probably the player who has exceeded my expectations most on final film review.
Bend isn't great, but when you can soften rush angles and force OTs into recovery position as quickly as Baun does, you don't need elite bend!
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) December 28, 2019
He’s not the most fluid edge rusher, and isn’t going to line up in the wide alignment and win the corner, but he’s effective defending the pass as a flat and hook zone dropper. His rush move arsenal is already refined like that of a seasoned pro.
Projected Required Investment — Late-First, Early-Second, Pick 26 or 39
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting On-Ball Linebacker
Biegel almost never left the field last season upon showing his worth across a variety of formations. Baun could do the same and give Miami a pair of consistent Badger backers off either edge, in what could be a linebacker-driven front-seven this year. Drafting Baun would certainly suggest that to be the case, with Van Ginkel serving as the sixth-man — so to speak — first off the bench.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Pit Drill
My apologies for a lack of variety between these trench players, but nothing beats the pit drill; nothing. This is an area Baun will probably excel because he’s such a refined technician, and he’ll draw some smaller school players and athletes that aren’t great football players just yet.
Keep an Eye On — Anfernee Jennings, Alabama
Jennings has the requisite measurements to intrigue the Dolphins before even flipping on the film. Then, once you see him play, you see him actively engage those long arms and thick frame to bully the man across from him. He’s extremely stout against the run with the heavy hands to shed blockers en route to the tackler.
Anfernee Jennings fits the mold for an edge in this defense. Watch him defeat the block and make the TFL on the keeper. pic.twitter.com/TyC7iqR61l
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) October 12, 2019
Cal’s Evan Weaver lacks speed and rush ability, but he’s the most reliable downhill run defender in the entire draft. Joshua Uche has some versatility to his game. He played for current Dolphins Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile in college.
Damon Arnette (OSU), Essang Bassey (WAKE), Julian Blackmon (UTAH), Antoine Brooks Jr. (MAR), Terrell Burgess (UTAH), Jeremy Chinn (SoILL), Brian Cole (MISS ST), Ashtyn Davis (CAL), Kyle Duggar (Lenoir-Rhyne), Jalen Elliot (ND), Kristian Fulton (LSU), Alohi Gilman (ND), A.J. Green (OKST), Darnay Holmes (UCLA), Lamar Jackson (NEB), Dane Jackson (PITT), Brandon Jones (TEX), Jared Mayden (ALA), Josh Metellus (MICH), Michael Ojemudia (IOWA), Troy Pride Jr. (ND), Reggie Robinson (TULS), Kindle Vildor (GEO SO), K’Von Wallace (CLEM)
Best Fins Fit — Ashtyn Davis
There are a few defensive backs in this class that match the prototype for what Brian Flores looks for, and Davis is certainly that, but he has one thing most of the other guys don’t. The sheer passion and love for playing the game the correct way. Not to say the others don’t, but Davis is a temperature changer that immediately improves the work environment around him.
Found one of my early draft crushes….Safety Ashtyn Davis
Drops down into the slot, takes outside leverage, lulls Herbert to sleep then breaks on the throw with incredible acceleration. Fearlessly catches the ball in traffic and returns it for a big gain! pic.twitter.com/sBV0TZ4HfK
— Cover 1 (@Cover_1_) January 9, 2020
Davis is a former track star, so when he tests in Indianapolis, it’s possible he elevates his stock into the first round. Hopefully that’s not the case, and Miami can pick up a round-two steal with this do-it-all safety. He can play the single-high role, cover in the slot, and is more than willing to hit somebody much larger than himself.
Projected Required Investment — Day 2, Pick 39
Where He Fits on the Roster — Starting Free Safety, Slot Corner
Davis‘ best trait is the paired combination of instincts and range. Because of that, he fits Miami’s press-man, single-high defense as well as anybody. He can also come down and cover the slot with the best of them — just the ideal defensive back for Brian Flores.
Area of Intrigue This Week — Live Team Period
Tackling hasn’t been the best trait for Davis in his collegiate career. It’s not that he’s not willing, he just lacks the size and frame to do it consistently. I want to see how he wraps and finishes in the live team periods when he has to come down and make a stick.
Keep an Eye On — Damon Arnette, Ohio State
Overlooked because of the presence of Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade in that Buckeye defensive backfield, Arnette took considerable strides this season in Columbus. He’s a long, aggressive press-corner that plays the ball exceptionally well.
Damon Arnette Pick Six 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yhcl3AQxIn
— Buckeye Videos+ (@BuckeyeVideos) September 14, 2019
Arnette will challenge every route at the three critical points — off the line, at the top of the stem, and at the catch point. He’s a sound tackler, but isn’t real interested in fighting off blocks. He’s more athletic than most players with his play-style which should bump his draft stock.
Utah’s Terrell Burgess is a good option in the middle rounds to play primary backup to Eric Rowe, and also serve as a core special teamer.
It would be quite a surprise if multiple players from this group don’t wind up with the Dolphins. There are so many potential scheme fits, and players that come from programs that stress the same core tenants that Miami’s system calls for. With all these Utah Utes, all these versatile defensive backs and multi-talented front-seven players, this is quite a week for Brian Flores and company.
Wednesday-Friday — Senior Bowl Practice Recaps
Kevin’s Senior Bowl Defensive Brain Dump
As we head into Senior Bowl week, I just wanted to do a quick brain dump on some of the prospects I’m most interested to see on defense this week at the Senior Bowl. One of my favorite prospects, Notre Dame DE Khalid Kareem, appears to have dropped out of the Senior Bowl for some reason (I’m looking into that, but if anyone knows, please comment below). To keep this simple, I’m just going to go DLs, LBs and DBs with quick notes on the guys I like.
Quick Glossary of Dolphins positions:
Big DE – bigger guy, usually 6’3”+ and 270lbs+ with 34”+ arms. Usually plays some 4, 4i, 5 and 6 techniques, with the ability to reduce inside on passing downs.
Rush DE – think Trey Flowers. Plays wider, usually 5, 6, 7, 9, and 8 (head up on a dual TE, pretty rare).
Off-Ball LB – a LB that’s usually playing off the line of scrimmage. Think Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen.
On-Ball LB – a LB who is playing the edges, akin to a 3-4 OLB, but may be playing in a 4-man line. Think Vince Biegel and, especially late in the season, Andrew Van Ginkel.
Safety Position – Miami breaks their safeties into three categories: MOF (Middle of the Field – a deep FS), split safety (someone who can play ½ field in tandem with the FS), and box safety (think Patrick Chung for New England or Tavon Wilson for Detroit. For Miami it was mostly Reshad Jones and Eric Rowe in this role in 2019).
DE – Jason Strowbridge – N. Carolina – Really excited to see him play in Mobile. Was a 3-tech DT for the Tar Heels at 6’5” 285lbs. Has length Miami will covet, experience playing inside. Flashes some explosion in pursuit. Plays well down the line (horizontally) against the run. Violent hands. Miami will like that. Fits with the Dolphins as a
DT Javon Kinlaw – South Carolina – Long and explosive. Can play anywhere on interior and may be able to play some Big DE in Miami’s scheme. Wins with length and speed more than physicality; will have to be more consistent with leverage and pad level at NFL level.
DT DaVon Hamilton – Ohio State – Solid all around. Physical, hustles, uses his hands. Was part of a heavy rotation at Ohio State with Rob Landers, Jashon Cornell, Haskell Garrett, and Tommy Togiai. Probably more set for a true 4-3 defense, but a solid player you can get in the mid-rounds. For Miami, he’d likely fit as a backup to Christian Wilkins – someone who can play 2i, 2, 3, 4, 4i techniques.
Really Intrigued: Marlon Davidson – Auburn – Was more hybrid 3-4 DE/stand-up edge player at Auburn. Has good size. Will be interesting to see how he plays as a DE in the game. Would be a Big DE for Miami.
Want to see more of: Leki Fotu – Utah – Got manhandled by Oregon in the Pac-12 Title Game. Thought he was an intriguing prospect for a NT spot in Miami’s defense, but after that game…Yikes. Can he rebound? Has some potential to play other techniques aside from a pure NT. Is he strong enough at the NFL Level?
Others I like:
Bradlee Anae – Utah – Rush DE from Utah who seems to fit the parameters, but just isn’t quite there for me. I want to see how he holds up against this level of competition. Did well until he ran into Penei Sewell of Oregon. Did notch some wins against USC’s Austin Jackson.
Jonathan Greenard – Florida – Another Rush DE candidate who had a fantastic season. Had a tremendous season for the Gators and has solid size for what Miami will likely look for. Does he have an arsenal of pass-rush moves or is he too reliant on speed-rush?
Darrell Taylor of Tennessee, Josh Uche of Michigan, and Alton Robinson of Syracuse also bear watching. The first two might be more OLB candidates for Miami. Robinson had a lot of hype heading into 2019 but didn’t have the best season with 2.5 of his 4.5 sacks coming against Liberty and Western Michigan.
Malik Harrison – Ohio State – Just a good, smart, physical football player. Can he play on the ball? Probably a little bit light for what Miami wants in someone who can play the off-ball and on-ball LB spot, but he’s so good. Secure tackler. Delivers pop when he squares up. For Miami, if he can bulk up a bit and still retain his speed, he’s got a chance to play that off-ball ILB and on-ball OLB hybrid role, like Kyle Van Noy. Guys like Biegel and Van Ginkel are pretty strictly on-ball guys, who fit the hybrid OLB/rush DE role for Miami.
Evan Weaver – California – Strictly a MLB in Miami’s system, but he may be more dynamic there than Raekwon McMillan; creates a logjam there if you take him though. Can play in coverage, good tackler, deceptive quickness.
Really Intrigued: Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis are both listed as ILBs for the Senior Bowl; not OLBs or edge players, which is what I think they’d be better suited for in the NFL and with Miami. Is this a real thing?
Want to see more of: Logan Wilson – Wyoming – Evan Weaver heavy. Wilson isn’t as polished as even Weaver, but he’s got good size and moves will for it. I’ve only seen one Wyoming game, so I myself want to watch Wilson this week.
Others I Like:
Carter Coughlin – Minnesota – He’s listed as a DE for the Senior Bowl, but for Miami’s purposes, they’d likely view him as another OLB/DE hybrid. Not that they need another at this point with Biegel and Van Ginkel, but it’s worth doing the due diligence on Coughlin.
Damon Arnette – Ohio State – One of the few CBs I’ve seen multiple times and paid attention to. He was the starter opposite Jeff Okudah and had a nice season. He’s physical and is an excellent tackler for a corner. Had to play with his hand/wrist in a cast for a chunk of the season and became a bit grabby, much like current Dolphin Xavien Howard when he was at Baylor. With Arnette, as it relates to Miami, I think the tape is fine, but it may come down to the physical measurements. Namely, does he have the long speed to play a lot of man coverage?
Dane Jackson – Pittsburgh – It seems like every year there’s a dirty, grimy football player from Pitt that just tends to stick in the league. I thought Dwayne Hendrix had a chance for Miami last year, but he ended up with the Ravens after being on the practice squad. Dane Jackson is another kid I can see Miami taking a liking to. Though, like Arnette, I’m concerned if the speed is there or not.
Antoine Brooks Jr. – Maryland – I noticed him when the Terps got thumped by Ohio State. He’s big, 5’11” 215lbs, and plays slot, SS and split safety. I think his best position is probably playing in the Patrick Chung/Tavon Wilson role, if Miami is convinced, they can play Eric Rowe as a split safety when required. Clicks & Closes quickly, like Reshad Jones. Good tackler in space. Physical. 67 solo tackles in 2019. Displays good closing speed (watch the play against Penn State). For the Dolphins, he’s on my short list of guys who can pay the Chung/Wilson role. While he’s not in Mobile, keep an eye on SMU’s Patrick Nelson. Hat tip to Chris Kouffman for turning me onto Nelson.
Alohi Gilman – Notre Dame – Antoine Brooks lite. Better coverage player, but not as dynamic close to the LOS. Good tackler who makes plays on the ball. 3 FFs in 2019, 6 total in his career at Notre Dame (3 years of playing time). 58 solo tackles in 2018 (better team defense). Interested to see if he’s more of a slot player or can play SS in the NFL. Versatility is something Miami will like.
Intrigued: Kyle Dugger – Lenoir-Rhyne – Division II player at the Senior Bowl. I know Jim Nagy really likes him. Intrigued to see his size on display. 6’2” 220lbs.
Want to see more of: All the CBs. Other than Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette and A.J. Terrell, I haven’t watched many corners throughout the year. Curious to see if any stand out.
Others I Like:
Ashtyn Davis – California – I know Travis has, or is very likely to, talk about him a lot this week. He’s one of the few ideal candidates in this year’s draft of the MOF FS spot in Miami’s defense. They may be comfortable with Bobby McCain for that role, but in my eyes, moving McCain back to the slot and tabbing a guy like Davis would improve the secondary as a whole.
I also think it’s funny that we’ll see corners named Lamar Jackson and A.J. Green in Mobile this week.
If I’m pressed into picking five names I think Miami will really like from this year’s Senior Bowl, I’d probably stack them as:
1) Ashtyn Davis – FS – California
2) Malik Harrison – LB – Ohio State
3) Jason Strowbridge – DE – North Carolina
4) Damon Arnette – CB – Ohio State
5) Evan Weaver – LB – California
I left off several guys like Darrell Taylor, Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings. They’re all guys Miami will like, but with Biegel and Van Ginkel in the fold, are they really going to be that interested? Especially with a guy like Yannick Ngakoue lurking in free agency, who he himself has already teased some things about Miami and Jason Taylor on his Twitter timeline? Yeah, give me Ngakoue there.
As for my guy, Antoine Brooks Jr., I think he’d be a really nice fit for Miami. But with Eric Rowe’s capability, I have to wonder whether or not they’d look at someone in that role or tend to focus on guys who can play FS and be able to play in split safety looks. There’s also some intriguing names out there in free agency like Justin Simmons and Von Bell to watch out for.
It’ll be a fun week to watch, and feel free to @ me at @KevinMD4 if you have any questions about these guys.
- Miami Dolphins meeting with Jordan Love at the Senior Bowl January 21, 2020
- Senior Bowl 2020 Preview Through Miami Dolphins Lens – Defense January 20, 2020
- Kevin’s Senior Bowl Defensive Brain Dump January 19, 2020
- Senior Bowl 2020 Preview Through Miami Dolphins Lens – Offense January 19, 2020
- Miami Dolphins 2020 Roster Building Preview – Safeties January 17, 2020
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