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Miami Dolphins Top-5 Best Draft Picks of the 21st Century

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If selecting our bottom-5 Miami Dolphins draft picks of the 21st-century was tough because there were so many valid options to choose from, the top-5 draft picks were equally as difficult to conjure up for the exact opposite reason.

Though there may be plenty of options that you can plug into the list, the unfortunate realization you come to is that this list is so difficult to confidently put together because there are so few clear-cut answers.

At least the rest of the AFC East was able to draft players that would undoubtedly make a similar list:

  • Buffalo Bills: Kyle Williams, Marshawn Lynch, Stephon Gilmore
  • New England Patriots: (I refuse to name a specific quarterback from 2000), Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymoure, Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, Devin McCourty (and a plethora of others)
  • New York Jets: D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in the same draft, Darrelle Revis, Jonathan Vilma

Plenty of more-recent players happened to make (or just miss) this list, but the decisions were just as surprising to me as they may be to you.

There was one great Miami Dolphins receiver that should have instantly made the list, but after comparing and contrasting careers, you’ll see that the decision wasn’t as easy at you’d think. Our perceptions of certain players seem to change depending on how they ended their careers with the Dolphins; we view players that had unorthodox exits as less-impressive than earlier counterparts.

We took into account more than just statistics when deriving this list. How much value did the player provide from their respective draft slot? What is their lasting impression with the team? How expensive or inexpensive were they?

Take a look at the best and most-impactful Dolphins drafted this century and see how you may have listed the players yourself:

5) Laremy Tunsil – 1st-round (#13 overall)

The easiest and best risk the Miami Dolphins ever took in a draft this century, Laremy Tunsil is on his way to being one of the best players in the entire NFL.

Sure, we can crack an unlimited amount of jokes over his draft-day gas mask bong and how his 5th-year extension came just a few days before weed smokers everywhere celebrated their national holiday, but without that video, the Miami Dolphins offensive line is even more inept than it currently is. If his social media account isn’t “hacked”, the team is either still searching for a franchise left tackle or in the process of grossly overpaying for one.

Tunsil was collectively graded out as the best prospect coming out of the 2016 NFL draft, and the Miami Dolphins were in the right place at the wrong time (for Tunsil).

I’m not sure why a video of a player smoking weed in college is such a turn off to professional football clubs who deal with rapists, murderers, and felons of all types, but it caused multiple teams to skip over Tunsil when drafting their respective left tackle.

After a short public relations “nightmare” (I wouldn’t even call it a bad dream), Miami was able to gloat over the fact that they currently have one of the best left tackles in the game.

What keeps Tunsil from being higher on this list is the obvious abbreviated career he has had with the Dolphins. We don’t know what the future holds for him, and it’s possible injuries mount or his play deteriorates for a myriad of reasons.

However, if Tunsil is anywhere close to the prospect he’s shown he can be, he’ll find himself much higher on this list in the future. It’s not crazy to say that 10 years from now, he could be #1.

4) Vernon Carey – 1st-round (#19 overall)

There isn’t much about this draft pick you can talk about. It’s about as generic as offensive linemen stereotypically are, though his publicity is a far cry from the previous offensive lineman on this list.

Vernon Carey traveled a very short distance from The University of Miami to the Miami Dolphins after being drafted 19th-overall in the 2004 NFL draft.

A career that spanned 8 years and 121 games (107 starts), Carey is your quintessential compiler; never really doing anything wrong, but not dominant enough to be a memorable 1st-round pick.

Really, his longevity and durability (active for 94.5% of all possible games), are what have him on this list. We know that Laremy Tunsil is currently a better player than Vernon Carey ever was, but we still don’t know if Tunsil will survive longer than Jake Long did, let alone go on to have a solid 8-year career like Carey had.

For a guy who was a bit overweight towards the end of his career, he was one of the most reliable Dolphins throughout his tenure. Most casual Dolphins fans didn’t even know who Carey was, and that’s a good thing for an offensive lineman.

This selection speaks more to the the Dolphins draft history this century than it does Carey’s skill. Frankly, Carey should never be on this list – he’s just one of the only draft picks to last longer than their rookie contract while still remaining durable. If the Dolphins were even adequate drafters at the start of the century, or if they knew how to handle immaturity, Carey would most likely be viewed lower than Mike Pouncey.

3) Chris Chambers – 2nd-round (#52 overall)

The toughest debate of this entire piece, Chris Chambers was almost replaced by another wide receiver recently selected by the Miami Dolphins.

Both players are virtually the same, but if you talk to most Dolphins fans they’ll speak glowingly of Chambers while looking down on Jarvis Landry. So you’d think this was an easy decision to make…but taking into account everything involving these players, it was a closer call than we expected.

Like any good story, it begins with their origins. Miami gave up a 4th-round pick in the 2001 draft to move up 4 slots and select Chris Chambers at #52. If you have conviction in a player and he’s someone you want, I will always encourage you doing what is necessary to grab him (similar to what happened when Miami traded up to get Patrick Surtain back in 1998; no one cares what you spent when you get the pick right).

Landry, on the other hand, didn’t cost Miami anything extra. In fact, he was more of a risk than Chambers, as most teams saw Landry’s body type as a detriment in the NFL.

In his 6.5 year career with Miami, Chambers amassed 5688 receiving yards and 43 touchdowns on 405 receptions. Landry accumulated 4038 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns on 400 receptions.

At first glance, it seems like Landry’s numbers are stacked in his favor. The prevailing thought was that Landry was a possession receiver that benefited from Miami’s inept offense and short-passing game. A deeper dive into the numbers tells us that Chambers was almost as “possessive” as Landry was, we just have a different perception of it all.

  • Chambers racked up 5688 yards on 846 targets (6.72 yards per target) while Landry had 4038 receiving yards on just 570 targets (7.08 yards per target)
    • Chambers’ 5688 yards came in 100 games (56.88 yards per game) while Landry’s 4038 yards came in just 64 games (63.09 yards per game)
  • Chambers did score touchdowns at a better pace than Landry, scoring a touchdown once every 2.33 games compared to Landry scoring once every 2.91 games.

The kicker? Their overall value, longevity, and their ball handling.

Chambers cost Miami an additional 4th-round pick in 2001, but the team was able to trade him to the San Diego Chargers in 2007 for a 2008 2nd-round pick. Miami didn’t have to give up any additional draft picks for Landry, but they were only able to deal Landry for a 4th and 7th-round pick last offseason. And that was after the team decided they didn’t want to extend Landry. You can’t fault Chambers for being able to sign a 5-year, $23m extension in 2004, just like you can’t fault Landry for wanting to cash in on free agency.

Difference is, one is better for the Dolphins and the other is better for the player. I’ll always side with the player in those scenarios, but when we’re trying to figure out who the top-5 draft picks are for the Miami Dolphins, the contract differential plays into it.

Chambers played an extra 2.5 years, has 4 less fumbles, and was able to net Miami a 2nd-round draft pick in return for 6.5 years of service. With everything so evenly matched statistically, Chambers gets the slight nod. It was just a lot closer than I would have imagined.

2) Reshad Jones – 5th-round (#163 overall)

Through contract disputes, quitting mid-game, and game-sealing interceptions, Reshad Jones has had an enigmatic career with Miami.

Drafted in the 5th-round (163rd-overall) in the 2010 NFL draft, Jones has been the Dolphins biggest steal of the century. Forever overlooked because he plays for a team no one in America cares about (see Zack Thomas‘ bid to get into the Hall of Fame), Jones has consistently been one of the top safeties in the NFL.

  • 21 career interceptions
  • 3 career forced fumbles
  • 7 career fumble recoveries
  • 10.5 career sacks
  • 4 career defensive touchdowns

And a swagger to match his aggressive playing style, Reshad Jones was everything you wanted out of a hard-hitting safety; especially one you unearthed so late in the draft.

Regardless of how the rest of Jones’ career with the Dolphins plays out, it’ll be hard for him to negate all of the passion and love he received from the fans throughout his 9+ year tenure. While recent history may not reflect too fondly on Jones, his name will forever be solidified as one of the great defensive players to put on a Dolphins uniform.

This interception against Tom Brady will always be one of my favorite Reshad Jones plays.

Honorable Mentions

We remember (most of) these players fondly for their time with the Dolphins, though none of us can correlate success with any one of them. You might be able to slot them into this top-5 list, but where would you put them and who are you going to take off?

Paul Soliai – 4th-round (#108 overall)

A 4th-round pick that turned into a dominant defensive tackle for the Dolphins, Paul Soliai was as forceful as he looked. His inclusion on the defensive line theoretically improved the running game, though Miami’s linebackers behind him were typically sub par, leading to underwhelming overall statistics.

That said, Soliai was certainly a steal for the Dolphins, but everything else that encompasses Paul Soliai leaves him just barely off the list.

To start, Soliai took A LONG TIME to develop. We’re talking one training camp away from being cut.

Though active for 22 games his first two years in the NFL, Soliai barely played, and combined to record just 6 tackles between 2007-2008. After a productive 2009, Miami began to realize Soliai was a really good player – eventually causing the team to use the franchise tag on the Samoan defensive tackle after the 2010 season.

After, once again, failing to have the foresight to sign one of their emerging players at a cheaper value and being forced to use the franchise tag, the Dolphins signed Soliai to a more-reasonable 2-year, $12m contract after the 2011 season.

Between his long development, the expensive franchise tag, and frankly, performance that was great but not elite, Soliai finds himself missing the top group of draft picks this century.

Brandon Fields – 7th-round (#225 overall)

Annually one of the best positions on the Dolphins roster, Miami always seems to have one of the more-premier punters in the game.

Brandon Fields played 8 seasons for the Dolphins and was active for every game.

At some points, he was worthy of being the team’s MVP; specifically remembering the game against the Jets in 2010 where the Dolphins accumulated 131 yards of total offense and Brandon Fields ended the game with 10 punts for an average of 50-yards per punt. Miami won 10-6 that day.

He was excellent at his craft, and most-certainly worth a 7th-round draft pick. If it weren’t for the fact that Miami’s offense was so anemic throughout Fields’ career, it’s possible we don’t realize how effective he was. Though he certainly deserves the recognition, it’s tough to put a punter into the top-5 category when there are other athletes affecting the game much more than a punter would.

…Still doesn’t mean we don’t love and appreciate what he did for us throughout his tenure.

Charles Clay – 6th-round (#174 overall)

A playmaker uncovered in the 6th-round, Charles Clay provided much more value than we could have hoped from his draft slot.

Selected as a multi-dimensional player who can both block and line up as a possible receiving threat, Clay initially served as a fullback/H-back hybrid before being unleashed more as a receiver the final two years of his Dolphins tenure.

Though never flashy, Clay was exactly what you wanted out of a tight end. He was seen as such a viable asset to Miami’s offense, that Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills devised a contract that made it nearly impossible for Miami to match and retain Clay during the 2015 offseason (this all occurred because Miami placed the Transition Tag on Clay leading into free agency).

The contract proved to be unwise for Buffalo, and it hamstrung them throughout its entirety as Clay was both injured and underwhelming. But that doesn’t negate anything he accomplished with the Dolphins.

Jarvis Landry – 2nd-round (#63 overall)

An offensive playmaker for an organization that hadn’t had a playmaker since pre-marijuana suspension Ricky Williams, Jarvis Landry gave Dolphins fans something to be excited about. It also gave the rest of the nation a reason to tune in to Miami – an otherwise desolate franchise tucked away in the corner of the United States.

He certainly didn’t have the “experience” the other players on this list had for Miami, but between his production, vastly outplaying the original “bust” vibe that followed him out of college because he wasn’t built like a “prototypical” football player, and the passion he brought to Miami, if he wasn’t a breath of fresh air he was certainly a dose of moxie that this club hadn’t had in years.

Though Landry ended his Dolphins career on a sour note, I wouldn’t doubt he’d be welcomed back to Hard Rock Stadium with open arms and a round of applause. His passion bordered on immaturity and toxicity, but it was his infectious desire to win that won over the hearts of fans and fellow teammates. If Miami extended Landry prior to the final season of his rookie contract, he may still be on the team. Instead, the Dolphins let his price tag balloon outside of their price range (and, for the contract he signed, rightfully so).

Brian Hartline – 4th-round (#108 overall)

You’re tripping if you think Brian Hartline doesn’t deserve to be recognized on this list!

Though the only sexy thing to originate from Hartline’s playing career was his 253 yard receiving game against the Arizona Cardinals back in 2012, we shouldn’t discredit what Hartline has done for the organization.

9th on the team’s all time receptions list with 298 receptions and 7th on the all time receiving list with 4243 yards, Hartline quietly compiled one of the best receiving careers in Dolphins history. Never a player opposing defenses felt threatened about, Hartline seemed like a guaranteed first down every time he was open.

A crafty receiver who was an exceptional route runner with soft hands, Hartline didn’t have the speed, strength, skill or intangibles to defeat his defenders, but he was one of the smartest receivers on the field, and knew exactly what his quarterback was looking for.

Ryan Tannehill‘s “blanket” before Jarvis Landry was drafted, Hartline may get teased for ending nearly every reception with a trip right before being tackled (an extremely healthy tactic, frankly), but at times he was the only legitimate “playmaker” on Miami’s offense.

The team’s lack of success doesn’t help Hartline’s image, but as a 4th-round draft steal, he should be remembered fondly by Dolphins fans. Lest we forget Patrick Turner was the alternative selected one round earlier than Hartline…

Xavien Howard – 2nd-round (#38 overall)

A couple injuries away from being on this list, Xavien Howard is already a star for the Miami Dolphins. Thing is, does a near-shutdown cornerback for 1.5 seasons translate to one of the top-5 draft picks of the entire century?

While we don’t think Howard is going to regress, we can’t put Howard on this list with such minimal experience under his belt. Does he turn into the next Jake Long or does he continue to excel as one of the top cornerbacks in the AFC? You can certainly use the same logic for Laremy Tunsil; how is he on this list but Howard is not?

Tunsil nearly missed the list for the same reason Howard made it, but Tunsil’s durability and the potential length of his career (compared to cornerbacks) has him higher than Howard at this very moment. Ultimately, Miami should have been able to fill the top-5 without such a debate between 2016 draft picks, but that shows you just how poorly Miami has drafted since 2000.

Barring a trade or the Dolphins unwisely letting Howard leave in free agency, expect Howard to land near Tunsil towards the top of this list 5 years from now.

Randy McMichael – 4th-round (#114 overall)

Both a force on the offensive line and a route running threat, Randy McMichael was an absolute bad*** for the Miami Dolphins throughout his tenure.

If his career began 10 years after he was originally drafted in 2002, he would probably be putting up numbers equivalent to (prime) Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski.

Reliable and menacing, McMichael started every single game throughout his 5-year tenure – averaging 57 receptions, 619 yards, 3.6 touchdowns and just 0.8 fumbles per season during that time.

If you had any thoughts about including Charles Clay on this list, you can scrap it immediately for McMichael – this is the kind of tight end Miami has been missing since his departure in 2007.

1) Yeremiah Bell – 6th-round (#213 overall)

One of the best draft-day steals in the history of the organization, Yeremiah Bell was an underrated, overlooked and unknown safety throughout his 8-year tenure.

Easily the best set of contracts Miami has signed any player to in the past 30 years, on average, Bell annually cost just 1.66% of the team’s cap space. A phenomenal bargain for a starting safety who had a knack for making plays.

While his overall statistics aren’t as glossy as Reshad Jones’, his draft status (selected 50 picks after Jones), career contracts with Miami (Bell’s 8 years with Miami cost $2.5m more than Jones 2019 cap hit alone – $19.7m vs $17.2m), and a non-existent ego that didn’t quit on the team mid-game, Bell is easily the best draft pick the Miami Dolphins have selected this century.

If we had to pick between Jones and Bell for one game or for one season, the answer is going to be Reshad Jones; but take into account all the baggage that comes with Jones, and it makes more sense why Bell gave Miami more value for their draft pick.

While people have various opinions about Jones currently (overpaid, playmaker, quitter, leader, over-the-hill), no one has a negative connotation they can associate with Bell.

On a gloomier note, it certainly says something when the team’s best draft pick factored into just one playoff appearance throughout his 8-year career with the team.

By no means would we ever want to replace Bell, and he certainly isn’t the reason the team didn’t make the playoffs most of those years, but it does give us an indication why the team has been so mediocre all this time.

How many of these players were obvious selections? Now how many of them became obvious selections because there weren’t any other obvious choices you could make?

This list isn’t pretty, but it’s a bit prettier than the bottom-5 draft picks we put together this century. If you’re in the mood to torture yourself leading up to the NFL draft, check out who cracked the bottom-5 here.

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

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Extend DeVante Parker

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

One of the longest-tenured players on the team may very well be a Miami Dolphin for life.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Miami Dolphins have extended DeVante Parker through the 2023 season.

All of the details are still being flushed out, but the deal is a 4-year, $40m extension, with an $8m signing bonus (which is guaranteed).

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Parker will earn $4.5m guaranteed in 2020, and $7.7m guaranteed in 2021.

Parker signs this extension in the middle of a career year. His 55 catches are 1 shy of his career-high (56, 2016), his 882 receiving yards surpass his prior career-high by 138 yards (2016), and his 6 touchdowns are only 3 less than his career total coming into the 2019 season.

Whether it’s Chad O’Shea‘s offense, a shift in Quarterback mentality, or the receiver finally coming into his own, Parker has shown that he can be a #1 receiver in this offense. Though some fans may be hoping for DeAndre Hopkins or Odell Beckham Jr. “elite”, the truth is, Parker isn’t that far behind.

His extension is in line with his production, and it’s fair to say that Parker’s potential still hasn’t been tapped. It’ll be interesting to see how much Parker builds off of his career-year, especially if the Dolphins can solidify their offensive line and give their receivers a chance to get open (more often).

Parker joins Ryan Tannehill and Mike Pouncey as the only other 1st-round picks drafted this decade to have signed an extension with the team.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins roster move round-up: Week 15 sees several more changes

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Linden Stephens
Linden Stephens defending Los Angeles Rams tight end Johnny Mundt

MIAMI (Locked On Dolphins) – Miami Dolphins continue to change up the roster

The Miami Dolphins have continued their roster churning in Week 15, leading up to their prizefight against the New York Giants on December 15.

While it’s been a mainstay strategy for the Dolphins this year, to comb over the waiver wire and the free agency market, there was a significant uptick in waiver wire awards last, totaling four new players being claimed.

Last week’s claimed players included Trevor Davis, Mack Hollins, Zach Zenner, and Zach Sieler. Zenner’s Miami stint was short-lived; he was waived on Tuesday, December 10 to make room for the newest wave of Dolphins signees.

Along with Zenner’s release, the Miami Dolphins added cornerbacks Ken Webster and Ryan Lewis to the Injured Reserve list.

Those three transactions allowed the Dolphins to scoop a player from the New England Patriots’ practice squad, defensive back Nate Brooks, a second player from the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad, linebacker Jamal Davis II, and a third player, offensive lineman Adam Pankey, who was waived by the Green Bay Packers.

Nate Brooks is a rookie defensive back that played at North Texas and has spent time with the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

Jamal Davis II is also a rookie. He entered the league from Akron. As mentioned above, he spent time with the Titans earlier this year before the Miami Dolphins signed him.

Adam Pankey is the most traveled player the Dolphins have added. Pankey went undrafted in 2017 out of West Virginia and has had two runs with the Packers and a short one with the Titans.

On December 7, cornerback Linden Stephens was added to the roster in a last-minute shuffle before the Dolphins-Jets game. Cornerback Chris Lammons was released to make room for Stephens on the squad, per Adam Beasley.

Stephens has had tenures with the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. He formerly played at Cincinnati in college.

In practice squad news, cornerback Rashard Causey was added to the group on December 12, per Safid Deen. Causey played college ball at UCF and has spent time with the Denver Broncos.

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Dolphins Giants Week 15 Preview

Travis Wingfield

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Dolphins set to run it back in New York

Who: Dolphins (3-10) @ Giants (2-11)
When: Sunday December 15, 1:00 East
Where: MetLife Stadium — East Rutherford, NJ
Weather: 35 degrees, partly cloudy
Vegas Slant: Dolphins +3

DolphinsGiants

The Miami Dolphins did not equip Brian Flores with a competitive roster for the 2019 season. Despite taking a path traveled by nobody else in the league, Miami sits with a better record than three teams in the league, and Sunday will pit the Fins up against one of those teams.

The Giants thought they were constructing a playoff roster that could run the football behind former number-two overall pick Saquon Barkley, and disrupt both the run and pass with an influx of high resources spent on the defensive line.

Even with half the cash payroll of the next lowest team on that notorious list, and 11 of its original opening day starters gone for one reason or another, Miami enter a week-15 road game as mere three-point dogs.

Still, with three or four new bodies working into the rotation every week, Brian Flores’ Dolphins have won three games since the bye week, and been within a score in the fourth quarter for all nine games.

Does either team want to win this game? Of course the players and coaches will want to be rewarded for a long, arduous work week, but what good does a victory do in the grand scheme of things? Flores has proven that he can coach his ass off, while Pat Shurmur is assured to lose his job whatever happens these final three weeks.

The cost, for the Giants, could be Chase Young. For Miami, perhaps even more severe as the best quarterback prospect of the last several years could suddenly be available because of medical concerns, should the team land in the top five.

A victory Sunday will likely remove Miami from that perch as the Lions and Cardinals are both underdogs, and would each jump the Dolphins with a one-game difference in the standings.

The Scheme:

Offense:

Mike Shula’s scheme is as 11-personnel heavy as any in the league, but things have changed due to injuries. Without Evan Ingram to provide the ultimate flexibility between 11 and 12-personnel packages, the Giants have lacked much variety in his absence. Using 81% one back, one tight end (3rdmost in football), Miami will be afforded the opportunity to get creative on defense altering its pre-snap look from the same package.

The Giants are successful on just 41% of their plays from this personnel grouping, including 12 interceptions, 31 sacks and just 6.6 yards per passing play. New York only runs one other package (12-personnel) and also doesn’t have a lot of success out of that grouping. Adhering to old school principles, the Giants don’t throw from run formations, and the predictability has the Giants averaging just 5.7 YPA from 12-personnel.

The Giants rank 26th in total offense, 22nd in passing, 26th in rushing and 25th in scoring.

Defense:

James Bettcher is a fan of sending pressure, and he will certainly try to heat up Ryan Fitzpatrick on Sunday. Fitzpatrick might have the last laugh with his ability to get the ball hot to the interior receivers working in behind the linebackers and winning one-on-one matchups with a young defensive backfield.

The Giants base is a 3-4 look, but elements of that defense are always sparingly used because of the nature of modern day football. Bettcher wants to get pressure out of his outside backers in Markus Golden, Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter, using his interior backers in a more traditional, off-ball sense.

New York blitzes 28.7% of the time — exactly the middle of the pack at 16th— but it’s safe to assume they’ll turn that number up on Sunday. The G-Men are in the middle of the pack in hurry rate, knockdown rate and pressure rate. The Giants 94 missed tackles are 13th most in the league.

The Giants rank 27th in total defense 26th in passing, 20th in rushing and 28th in scoring defense.

The Players:

Offense:

Eli Manning is Eli Manning. The Giants hung onto him for three years too long, and his storied career appears to be coming to an end in three weeks. Filling in for the injured Daniel Jones gives the Miami defense a chance to tee off on a quarterback for the first time since the home win over Sam Darnold and the New York Jets.

Manning can’t move, he can’t drive the ball, and there’s really no reason for him to be on a roster at this point. The Dolphins will hit him, turn him over, and dominate the Giants offense is he plays.

New York funneled a lot of resources into its offensive line, and it’s still one of the worst in football. Miami lacks true pass rushers, so it’ll be up to the stunts and games up front to get pressure. Expect Flores to blitz Manning relentlessly, likely with a lot of zero looks.

Holding Saquon Barkley has been easier for opponents this year. A lot of the Giants running game gets Barkley going horizontally, and he’s been able to make the big plays due to poor blocking and a nasty ankle sprain earlier in the year.

This game will be a big test for Taco Charlton, Vince Biegel, Andrew Van Ginkel, Charles Harris and the rest of the Miami edge players.

Defense:

Markus Golden stands to wreck this game for Miami. He’ll come down off the offense’s left edge, and that position has been an issue for the Dolphins all year long. Sliding protection and using a back or tight end to chip Golden is the only way Fitzpatrick will have any time to throw.

On the inside, the Giants offer the beef that Miami’s interior line struggles with the most. Dexter Lawrence is massive, and those are the kind of players that give Daniel Kilgore problems up front.

Alec Ogletree remains a focal point of the Giants defense, and that presents a lot of opportunities for the Dolphins. Look for Miami to empty out the backfield from 12 and 11-personnel, find Ogletree in coverage, and go to work.

The New York secondary is full of inexperience. Rookie DeAndre Baker has worn the rabbit hat (teams go after him) all year long while Janoris Jenkins appears to have past his prime.

This is a slow defense and I’d be surprised if Chad O’Shea doesn’t have his way with it in the passing game.

The Medical:

(Coming Friday)

The Opportunities:

If Devante Parker can go, there isn’t a player in the Giants defensive backfield that can handle his skill set. Regardless, Miami’s passing schemes will create opportunities for whichever players are healthy, especially Allen Hurns inside on mismatches from 12-personnel against linebackers. Patrick Laird should draw some favorable matchups in the passing game in his own right — expect a big day for The Intern.

If it’s Eli, expect a lot of pressure sent to overwhelm a bad Giants line and quarterback. If it’s Daniel Jones, expect Miami to play coverage and take the ball away from the rookie. Either way, this is the day the Dolphins defense gets healthy.

The Concerns:

The Giants skill players can make some noise. Darius Slayton’s speed is a problem, and he’s been producing regardless of who’s under center. The Dolphins added yet another pair of defensive backs to the injured reserve, and that’ll provide a challenge against Slayton, Golden Tate and Sterling Sheppard.

Miami haven’t been able to block many pass rushes, and they’ve created almost nothing by way of the ground game, so the Giants talented front is an issue. There will be one-on-one opportunities aplenty for Markus Golden, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams.

The Projected Outcome:

It doesn’t matter if it’s Daniel Jones or Eli Manning. Both are going to give the Dolphins defense opportunities to take the football away, and neither presents much fear to a unit that is full of undrafted free agents are largely unknowns. Manning doesn’t have the physical traits to scare anyone and Jones is on track for the most turnovers at the position per game of all time. If Jones plays, it will be on a tender ankle that robs the one trait he has — his mobility.

Miami beat the Jets in November in convincing fashion. Every other game since the bye week — with the exception of the Cleveland and Buffalo (home) games — have been white knuckle affairs. This game has the makeup of a blowout, but in favor of the road team.

A bitter, angry team off the loss last week responds to Brian Flores’ message and puts a beating on the Giants.

Dolphins 27
Giants 13

@WingfieldNFL

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