The NFL Draft is the ultimate practice in educated guessing. Filling out the exact order for 256 picks provides a countless number of unique outcomes. The odds of hitting the Mega Millions Jackpot are more likely. After much delineation over what type of mock the Locked On Dolphins team should do, we landed on a sole-focus on the 11thpick.
Just at that one pick, there are nearly double-digit options as far as what the Dolphins could do tomorrow night. Between eight writers, all fans of the team, here is what we all think the Dolphins SHOULD do, and what we think they WILL do come Thursday night.
Want: Derwin James – S – Florida State
I think James’ freakish athleticism wins out over Minkah Fitzpatrick’s experience and Miami would have a safety that allows them to do multiple things in the secondary. The can play split safeties effectively. They could use him as a matchup-based player. They could play him in a single-high look when needed. This also frees them up to use T.J. McDonald as a $LB in sub-packages, as they’ve hinted at doing this offseason. Tony Oden can find uses for Dime and Quarter (Prevent) packages and Derwin James certainly allows Miami to delve into those options – options that they didn’t have the luxury of going into last year. Overall, James’ versatility allows Miami to be a better defense overall.
Think: Vita Vea – DT – Washington
Mike Tannenbaum’s got a history of taking talented and/or planet-theory type D-linemen in his career. He was in the Jets front office for Sione Pouha and was the GM for Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Quinton Coples. In Miami we saw him take Jordan Phillips in the second round in 2015. Miami needs to add some interior pass-rush as well as replace some of the snaps vacated by Ndamukong Suh’s departure. A DT such as Vea seems like a relatively “safe” pick, if there is such a thing, in the first round. At 6’4″ 347lbs he moves very well, can stuff the run and has quick step to go with massive power off the snap. My only nit here is that if he doesn’t win off the first-step, his hands stop working at times and he can run himself out of pass-rush lanes. So long as he can keep his weight in check, the rest is coachable for Miami.
I’m five snaps into Derwin James’ 2016 Ole Miss tape and I’ve seen him like up as a quasi-linebacker, take Evan Engram man-up, and play in a cover-2 Shell. Look this physicality. We complain about a lack of star power in Miami – this guy is a star. pic.twitter.com/CWe7TQfVfY
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) January 4, 2018
Who I Want…
- ROQUAN SMITH – LB – 6’1, 235LBS – GEORGIA
- Smith is the new ideal mold for a NFL linebacker in today’s game. Some would say at 235lbs he is a bit undersized but Smith has devastating speed that helps him succeed while covering running backs and tight ends in pass plays. He is a tremendous leader and fits as a 3-down linebacker due to his coverage ability. The Miami Dolphins need linebacker help in a bad way. He not only would address that need but he also would be an integral part of this defense for years to come. Linebacker has always been viewed as the defensive version of a Quarterback and that’s what Roquan brings, an elite talent as your Defensive QB. His speed, fluidity, athleticism, physicality and leadership are all traits of a future Pro Bowl player. I highly doubt he will be available when the Dolphins pick at 11, but if he is, you find the fastest guy at the Draft and have him SPRINT that name card to the Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Who I THINK the pick will be…
- VITA VEA – DT – 6’4, 347LBS – WASHINGTON
- So this is incredibly tough for me, I love the “idea” of Vita Vea the player. A behemoth at 6’4 350lbs, really quick and nimble considering his massive size. My issue with it, is we just cut Suh. Cutting Suh created a need and now here we are using that 1stRound pick on filling the hole that we created on our own terms. Yes, I know Suh opened a large amount of cap space once June 1stcomes, but still, pushing arguably the bigger needs for Linebacker, Defensive Back, and Tight End further back in this draft. All in all, I truly think the Dolphins stay put on draft night and take the best DEFENSIVE player available on their board. Below is who I have as my top 5 for the Dolphins. Considering how I think the draft will go on Thursday night, Vea will certainly be the best available after the group below.
- Bradley Chubb, Edge
- Roquan Smith, Linebacker
- Derwin James, Defensive Back
- Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker
- Minkah Fitzpatrick, Defensive Back
Perfect Fit: In an ideal world one of Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds make it to Miami without them having to expend any additional draft resources to do so. Derwin James has one of the highest ceilings in the draft, regardless of position. Despite the misconception that he is strictly a box safety and would be redundant with Reshad Jones and TJ McDonald on the roster, James fills a big hole in Miami’s defense with his ability to erase tight ends and running backs in coverage and being a physical presence against the run.
The NFL is becoming more like the NBA, where the definition of the positions is becoming blurred and it’s more about playmakers exploiting mismatches. Derwin James will be part of the revolution of NFL defenses. Safety, corner, slot corner, linebacker, edge rusher. James can do it all and will become the vocal leader of the Dolphins franchise for the next decade.
Reality: Unfortunately for Miami, Derwin James’ stock has been on the rise since the end of the college season. He’s now being mocked consistently inside the top 10 and just out of Miami’s reach. I think that the man Miami eventually selects is Tremaine Edmunds out of Virginia Tech. His ceiling may rival that of Derwin James’, a 19-year old freak athlete that is only just beginning to scratch the surface of his true potential. With Edmunds and Raekwon McMillan, Miami will form the nucleus of their defense with two young standout linebackers.
When you’re the E on an E-T (#4) and you have to loop into Nelson’s gap, become timid and soft at the POA, and wind up getting assaulted anyway. ? pic.twitter.com/p3WxuLYsAU
— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) April 8, 2018
Need more be said than the GIF above?
Guard is not a sexy pick, especially early in the draft. When you factor in the additions of Sitton and Kilgore this offseason, re-signing James, and great promise from Davis, an offensive line pick may not be a fan-favorite either. However, with a player like Quenton Nelson – a player some scouts marked as the best they’ve scouted in the last few years – you turn Miami’s weakness of so many years into its biggest strength. Imagine a line of Tunsil, Sitton, Kilgore, Nelson, and James, with players like Davis who has the flexibility and skill to play almost all of those positions as injury insurance.
Nelson is one of the few blue chip prospects in this draft. If he’s available, snag him and watch him and Tunsil dominate side-by-side for the next decade.
Tremaine Edmunds – Off-ball Linebacker – Virginia Tech
Having a player such as Tremaine Edmunds as someone Miami likely picks is almost as good as a dream pick. He’ll require some refinement to his game and isn’t quite a blue chip prospect, but he has exactly what Miami needs in his athletic ability to cover tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Edmunds could be a franchise player on this Miami defense for years to come.
Who Miami will pick:
Vita Vea – with the departure of Ndamukong Suh (and possible departure of Jordan Phillips after 2018), the Dolphins need a DT. And with the #11 pick, they’ll have the opportunity to grab the top player at some positions. While this isn’t a pick that Dolphins fans will love, it should sure-up the defensive line while also keeping it moderately priced. Given how the Dolphins have splurged on defensive ends, they’ll be lucky to have Vea to compliment sophomore defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor.
Who I want Miami to pick:
Minkah Fitzpatrick – If everything fell right for Miami on draft day, they would end up with Minkah Fitzpatrick. As the top safety in the draft, Fitzpatrick would give the Dolphins an elite secondary that is extremely young. He would be a wonderful compliment to Reshad Jones and TJ McDonald, allowing them to play their natural positions as strong safety’s that press while Fitzpatrick plays back. Saban hurt Miami with his draft picks while he was the head coach, maybe he could do us a favor by grooming Fitzpatrick for us. The only reason Miami won’t select Fitzpatrick is because he won’t be around when they pick. I expect Fitzpatrick to be one of the first 3 non-QBs to go. Most likely to the Bucs at #7
Vita Vea facing a Mike Leach team that throws the ball over 70% of the time? If he’s the two down run stopper everyone says, he must’ve been pretty useless in this game. Huh? He had his most disruptive game of the year? Weird. pic.twitter.com/ozHaiar8BL
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) April 17, 2018
Who I’m hoping for at pick #11 for the Dolphins is Derwin James. James can instantly become a starter in the NFL and would pair perfectly with Reshad Jones. One of the many positive notes I’ve heard about James is that he is a leader on the field and in the locker and teammates listen to him. After the years of the Dolphins “locker room problems” and “player problems”, James could be someone to help lead the defense with Reshad Jones while also learning from the veteran safety.
Who I think the Dolphins will draft at pick number #11 is Tremaine Edmunds. While I think the Dolphins might try to trade the #11 pick to gain more picks in this year’s draft, I don’t think they will get the right offer so they will land Edmunds. Edmunds will quickly give a boost to one of the Dolphins weakest links right now, their Linebackers. Edmunds along with Raekwon McMillan can become a serious threat on defense. Hopefully those two along with an improved Kiko Alonzo, the Dolphins linebackers could be the best in years. So on Thursday when you hear “With the #11 pick the Miami Dolphins select Tremaine Edmunds” don’t be angry fans, be happy to be getting a future Pro-Bowler.
Dolphins pick: Vita Vea
It makes sense. Let Ndamukong Suh go, draft his replacement and share the workload. It isn’t a fancy pick and there are those who make the argument that while Suh was wreaking havoc on defense, the Phins didn’t exactly set the world alight.
But the Dolphins don’t want to set the world alight, they want to be competent and work with guys that are pushing in the right direction together. A few weeks ago, fans would have jumped at the chance to plug Vea into this defensive line. Now fans see the Washington product as reach, a somewhat lesser player. But this kid is a monster and I can see why the Dolphins would select him with their first pick in the 2018 NFL draft.
Forget everything I just said. Vea isn’t fit to lace Fitzpatrick’s cleats. This so easily could have been Derwin James and I’ll probably go back and forth over who I want more. Either one would have me dancing on my sofa come Friday morning (draft starts gone 1am for me in England). But it’s Fitzpatrick’s Alabama acumen that just tips it for me. Him working under Nick Saban cannot be downplayed and the Dolphins would have extra knowledge of the safety given the teams and Adam Gases’ close connection with the former Phins head coach.
Fitzpatrick’s draft stock has somewhat “fallen” the past few weeks and James has become THE safety of the 2018 Draft class. But there’s a reason why for most of the season, scouts were talking about Fitzpatrick. His versatility is a huge bonus for the Dolphins, though talk of him being a corner at the next level is nonsense. He can come down with the ball if thrown near him, while he’s a big hitter when asked to come down into the box. I’m ready to get Fitzpatrick on my brand new Miami Dolphins 2018 jersey.
Minkah Fitzpatrick can play any position and any coverage in the secondary. For Miami, I’d want him on the perimeter, so let’s start there. Here, he’s the playside perimeter. Chases the drag, under cuts the route, catches the football. pic.twitter.com/uJeDEDxuac
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 28, 2017
I believe the Dolphins should select Josh Rosen if he is on the board when they pick. My backup pick would be Roquan Smith, as I see him falling to the Dolphins in a lot of scenarios. Rosen makes the most sense of any QB besides Baker Mayfield, which the Dolphins are absolutely infatuated with, however, I do not believe he will make it out of the Top 3 picks, much less the Top 10. Rosen can make any throw and has been in a pro style offense in UCLA. Questions of his attitude concern scouts and I share this concern, however, his talent can not be refuted and if he is on the board, he should be snapped up. Whether he has to back up Ryan Tannehill for the next 2-3 years, or he beats him out in training camp, Rosen is a cant pass talent, and if he falls to 11, that would be a miracle. On the other hand, Roquan Smith, linebacker from Georgia, gives you everything you would like in a linebacker. Questions of certain aspects of his game have arisen but his leadership, range, and speed for someone his size can not be questioned. If he makes it past Chicago, and Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield are gone, expect to see Roquan Smith in the new, sleek, orange and aqua Dolphin uniform next year.
When Roger Goodell walks to the podium on Thursday night, he will say, “With the the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select, Roquan Smith, Linebacker, Georgia.” The Dolphins can and will not pass up on the potential superstar talent that Smith possesses, with 4 of the 5 top QB’s being off the board (Darnold, Mayfield, Rosen, Allen*). Smith will be paired with Raekwon McMillan, who is returning from a Torn ACL that he suffered in his first NFL snap. Smith and McMillan can form a dangerous, athletic duo that can wreak havoc on teams across the NFL.
Whatever the Dolphins do, I expect to see Dolphins twitter in full force, some loving the pick, some hating it, and some jumping for joy or breaking down their house, *ahem* @Houtz. Thursday will be one of the most interesting and mystifying drafts in many years, and should be very fun to watch. Tweet me @AlbertiNFL for thoughts and opinions, or even just debates.
* Darnold, Mayfield, Rosen, Allen, is the order I think the QB’s will be selected before the Dolphins pick.
What Miami Will Do –
S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama
The message from the first day of the off-season has centered around finding players that prioritize ball above all else. Minkah Fitzpatrick is the embodiment a player that leads by example – both in production and in the locker room. He’s a scheme-diverse versatile player that Nick Saban relied on to make the pre-snap checks in his complex defense.
Fitzpatrick was primarily a safety in 2016 before kicking down inside to become ‘Bama’s top slot corner in 2017. He has range, ball-skills, instincts and an ability to blitz the edge. In Fitzpatrick, Miami gets the missing piece to the defense that ranked 30thin red-zone defense and 32ndin third-and-long defense.
What Miami Should Do –
Draft Fitzpatrick or Derwin James, Florida State
One of these two players is likely to go off the board in the top-10. James, with greater athleticism and potential, figures to win that battle. Nonetheless, Miami has to fix their inability to disguise coverage with match-up erasers like Fitzpatrick and James.
Miami could go the way of a linebacker with Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds. I’m of the belief that anything they can do from the LB position can be executed by either of these dynamic safeties.
|Miami SHOULD Pick||Miami WILL Pick|
|Derwin James – 4||Vita Vea – 5|
|Minkah Fitzpatrick -2||Tremaine Edmunds – 2|
|Roquan Smith and Quenton Nelson – 1 each||Minkah Fitzpatrick – 1|
The fan base in South Florida is sure to erupt if the Dolphins do what the Locked On crew is thinking. The desire for what we want is clear, however – match-up erasers that disrupt the passing game.
Stay tuned for Travis’ complete first round mock and seven-round Dolphins mock draft – up tomorrow.
Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts
Tua Tagovailoa has IT.
Brian Flores is THE guy.
And I have to admit, Chris Grier has done a phenomenal job.
After an exciting 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals (5-3), the Miami Dolphins (5-3) solidified themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the AFC. Sure, you can say we’re getting a bit cocky – we’ve watched our team falter plenty of times before. But do you get the sense that these are the same Dolphins we’ve been watching this century?
Right now, are you skeptical or optimistic?
Do you have butterflies because you’re nervous or because you’re excited?
Do you think the Dolphins are trying to survive each game or do you have confidence that they’ll win?
Coming off of 4-straight victories, it’s easy to feel like we’re on top of the world, but this team looks different. It feels different. They act different.
Something special cookin’ down in Miami! 🤫 https://t.co/GDuC4Aogu5
— Jakeem Grant (@_TheDreamIsHere) November 9, 2020
Below are a few thoughts following Miami’s promising 34-31 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Monday Morning Thoughts
Tua Tagovailoa is the franchise quarterback we’ve been waiting for
Admit it, when they originally ruled that throwaway an interception, you saw shades of every failed quarterback to come since Dan Marino.
tua’s first career interception? pic.twitter.com/GkSn8KGeBw
— josh houtz (@houtz) November 8, 2020
That play was so comically bad that it easily could have defined Tua’s career if it didn’t pan out. Thankfully, it was ruled that the receiver’s foot was out-of-bounds and it was an incomplete pass – but imagine the memes that would have been unleashed if Miami lost this game and that play counted.
But, it didn’t count….and the Dolphins didn’t lose….and Tua Tagovailoa out-dueled Kyler Murray when it mattered most.
When the Dolphins needed a game-winning drive, Tua delivered. When Kyler Murray had an opportunity to tie it, he didn’t (along with an obscure Zane Gonzalez kick).
Tua’s elite pocket presence, accuracy, decision-making, and ball placement were all on display. And none of that accounts for the plays he made with his legs.
.@Tua said SEE YA
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) November 8, 2020
TUA WITH THE JUKES!!! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/FKScMk6wmR
— LasnerSport (@LasnerSport) November 8, 2020
If you’re a Dolphins fan, you’re thrilled with what you saw. And though it’s only a small sample size, I think we can all exhale – he looks like he’s the guy.
Ted Karras on Tua
That one scramble where he split those guys was exceptional. I don’t think any moment is too big for Tua. He works hard and has earned the respect of everyone in that huddle.
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) November 9, 2020
Byron Jones is still a damn good Cornerback
After three-straight dominant performances, Byron Jones was a bit humbled this game. We’re so used to watching him shut down opposing receivers that a game like this really sticks out.
He was absolutely burned by Christian Kirk on a beautiful deep ball from Kyler Murray late in the first quarter, but that wasn’t his worse play.
Dolphins fans and Byron Jones both thought he hauled in his first interception since October, 2017. Instead, Darrell Daniels’ first career touchdown reception is one of the highlights of the year as he snatches the ball right out of Jones’ hands.
Darrell Daniels took it BACK. What a TD! #RedSea
— NFL (@NFL) November 8, 2020
I mean, Byron Jones had that ball in his hands for an interception, and before they hit the ground Darrell Daniels steals it into his possession. AND somehow had his knee down so it would count as a catch. Crazy.
Miami’s (really, it’s Brian Flores’) now infamous “zero” boom-or-bust scheme is susceptible to the long-ball, as our corners are expected to cover their receivers 1-on-1; with no safety help behind them. So far this season, it has worked tremendously to their advantage (as seen below)
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) November 8, 2020
But, if your coverage isn’t on par, this will happen:
Deep ball DIME from Kyler Murray to Christian Kirk.
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) November 8, 2020
With all of that said, Byron Jones is still a great cornerback in this league. Was this a bad game? Definitely. But I don’t expect this to become a trend. Lets not take for granted the elite secondary we currently have.
Christian Wilkins should NOT stop celebrating
Just please celebrate responsibly.
One of the reasons Dolphins fans adore Christian Wilkins is because of his infectious personality. He’s notoriously running in and celebrating every offensive touchdown with his team. His trash talking is innocently intimidating. The way he pumps his team up is perfect for any locker room culture. On top of the fact that he’s a pretty good defensive tackle.
Which is why I want him to keep celebrating – and I want him to continue celebrating excessively.
Teria sido Wilkins que machucou Williams? pic.twitter.com/RdR0rHfapJ
— Phins BR 🐬 (@PhinsBr) November 8, 2020
Preston Williams‘ unfortunate injury during a touchdown celebration is a huge reason why professional coaches like to contain their million-dollar players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well. It makes sense, they’re valuable commodities, but Wilkins’ spirit is too valuable to douse.
If something like this happens again, then we can talk about stifling his excitement, until then….celebrate smarter.
Xavien Howard’s “penalties” tell half the story
Xavien Howard was tasked with shadowing DeAndre Hopkins, and he ended up accounting for more penalty yards (43) than receiving yards against him (30).
Xavien Howard has been flagged for pass interference 4 times now (3 accepted, 1 offsetting). It's the first time he's been flagged more than twice in a game.
Including the offsetting DPI, Howard's 4 PI penalties are the most by a player in a single game over the last 20 seasons pic.twitter.com/fanl15HP0i
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 8, 2020
The real testament to Howard’s coverage throughout the game? DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in the league, didn’t see a single target in the first half of the game.
According to @ESPNStatsInfo; DeAndre Hopkins has yet to be targeted; that has only happened one other time in his career where he wasn't targeted in the first half – ('13 vs. the Raiders).
— Mike Tannenbaum (@RealTannenbaum) November 8, 2020
A couple (terrible) penalties shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Xavien Howard and Byron Jones may be the best cornerback tandem in the league.
The Miami Dolphins need a Running Back in the worst way
Jordan Howard‘s 8-yard run on the last drive of the game – which helped seal the victory – was his biggest play as a Miami Dolphin. Up to that point, I was kind of rooting for Howard to continue his 1 YPC average. If you take away that 8-yard run (EASILY his longest of the year), Howard has gained 25 rushing yards on 27 rushing attempts (0.93 YPC).
Rookie Salvon Ahmed had a solid game, with 7 carries for 38 yards (5.4 YPC). I’m not sure how reliable he is, but he can’t be worse than Howard. If Matt Breida is available for next week’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers, I’m sure Howard will once again be inactive, giving Ahmed another shot to prove himself.
We probably should have given Austin Jackson the week off
Austin Jackson returned to the lineup for the first time in 4 weeks (due to a foot injury) and was “ok”. He was beat on a few plays, but it’s evident he wasn’t 100%. I wouldn’t make any presumptions based off of this game; if anything, the reps help from an experience/mental perspective.
Will take Austin Jackson time to get rust off; wasn't sharp there in that regrettable series. Though Jesse Davis is now at RG, I would expect to see Kindley again today. Fins trying to fit six guys into five spots, figure out what's best
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) November 8, 2020
Jason Sanders is a stud
Jason Sanders connecting on 56 and 50-yard field goals are that much more impressive when you take into account that weird Zane Gonzalez miss (where he was short from 49 yards).
The conspiracy floating around is that the ball died (on Gonzalez’s kick) because the roof was open. Yet, Sanders made his 50+ yard field goals with room to spare.
Today’s the day we will never take Jason Sanders for granted as he surpassed Olindo Mare‘s franchise record of 19-straight field goals made.
The Miami Dolphins are going to “have to” extend Emmanuel Ogbah
I think we all would love to see a contract extension, but it’s bordering on a “necessity” at this point. Not just because we want to lock up a top-notch defensive end, but because he’s going to (rightfully) demand more financial security.
Though it always felt like he was on a one-year deal, this is technically the first year of a 2-year, $15m contract for Emmanuel Ogbah, but there’s no guaranteed money tied to 2021 – and there’s no way he’s playing like a $7.5m defensive end.
Jordan Phillips averages $10m a year with his recent contract, and I think it’s fair to say that Ogbah is worth more than that. Expect a holdout if the Dolphins don’t give him a raise and an extension this offseason. That’s not to say we should be concerned – I think Miami will look to make this extension a priority – but if they don’t see eye-to-eye expect a holdout to occur.
The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises
Football is a team sport.
Wins don’t individually define a quarterback’s success.
Yet everyone agrees that the only way to win in the NFL is to have a quarterback that is better than (just about) every other franchise in the sport.
Once you have an upper-echelon quarterback, then you can talk about the nuances of creating a team. Whether it’s surrounding that quarterback with the proper talent, ensuring you’ve built the right scheme around them, or complimenting them with a staunch defense to complete a championship run, developing an entire roster means nothing if you don’t have a quarterback that can lead you to the playoffs.
38 years ago, the Miami Dolphins selected a quarterback that would revolutionize the NFL.
A man decades before his time, the immediate success Dan Marino brought us – after 13 championship-caliber years with Bob Griese – shielded us from the horrors of football purgatory. Maybe it’s this curse of #13 that has us clamoring for football relevance after almost 50 years without a Super Bowl Championship.
We watched our franchise devolve from the model of perfection to a team without an identity; floundering desperately to find a viable quarterback for two decades.
And with one swift decision, the Dolphins simultaneously expunged their football idiocy of years past and exhibited the type of football prowess that should lead them to salvation.
As we’re destroying the team for wasting 2nd & 5th-round picks on Josh Rosen, we’re praising them for building the foundation for future success. Gone are these false prophets of yesteryear, as the real prodigy we’ve all been yearning for is one step closer to leading the helm.
Once Tua Tagovailoa was selected 5th-overall in the 2020 NFL draft, Rosen’s exile was cemented. He was never going to have an opportunity to make it here, it was always going to be Tua Tagovailoa backing up Ryan Fitzpatrick. The grizzly, 13-year veteran handles the nuances of a young football team while the young, energetic and extremely talented rookie spends valuable time learning and developing.
That move…that single transaction…will forever symbolize the moment the Miami Dolphins transitioned from football purgatory to football relevance.
The Purgatory We Built
No one remembers the cost of a successful trade.
Off the top of your head, what did the New York Giants trade to swap Philip Rivers for Eli Manning? How much did Carson Wentz cost the Philadelphia Eagles when they traded up for him? I bet you all remember the litany of picks the Washington Football Team paid for Robert Griffin III, or how badly the Chicago Bears missed on Mitch Trubisky when they gave up a bunch of picks to move up from #3 to #2.
It’s because mistakes are always magnified for franchises that fail. As a fan base, we’ve been groomed to remember all the negative aspects of our favorite football team, because that’s all we’ve known for the better half of our adult lives.
After trudging through this wasteland for so long, we are finally ready to move past all of the detrimental mistakes that have cost us 20+ years of our lives – including the Josh Rosen trade.
Sure, you have your classics like failing to draft (and then sign) Drew Brees, drafting Ronnie Brown over Aaron Rodgers with the 2nd-overall pick, drafting Jake Long over Matt Ryan with the 1st-overall pick, and trading a 2nd-round pick for A.J. Feeley.
Miami undertook rebuilds in 2005 and 2008 under Nick Saban and then Bill Parcells. In both cases the decision was made that they needed to build a TEAM, and THEN get a QB. As a result of those priorities, they passed on Aaron Rodgers for Ronnie Brown, and Matt Ryan for Jake Long.
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) January 15, 2019
It’s not that the Dolphins haven’t tried, it’s just that they have failed almost mightily when doing so.
I respect that Miami was aggressive in their pursuit of Josh Rosen – or for any of the other quarterbacks they’ve attempted to put under center – but their aggression was either misguided, ill-informed, or even desperate at best.
A year prior to Rosen’s draft-day trade, another draft-day trade was occurring – one that would transcend the Baltimore Ravens organization for the prolonged future. With the 32nd pick in the draft, the Ravens selected Lamar Jackson – a quarterback some Dolphins fans wanted with the team’s 11th-overall pick.
To move back into the first round and secure a quarterback with the 5th-year option, all Baltimore had to give up was an additional 2nd-round pick (see the full trade at the end of the article).
With their draft-day trade, the Baltimore Ravens landed an MVP.
With their draft-day trade, the Miami Dolphins landed a quarterback that was released for nothing.
Again, I don’t fault the Dolphins for being aggressive, but their pursuit was often awry.
The frustrating part of all of this may be that this team actually “spent” both in assets and money, they just didn’t seem to take that extra step at the right time.
Spending 2nd-round picks was fine 3 years in a row (with Chad Henne, John Beck and Pat White), but spending 2nd-round picks then became “too much” when they could have moved up in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson – instead, they stayed put at #22 and drafted Charles Harris.
I love draft grades! A few From 2017
8. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina PanthersGrade: D+
10. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs Grade: C-
12. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans Grade: C+
22. Charles Harris, Miami Dolphins Grade: A
28. Taco Charlton, Dallas CowboysGrade: A-
— ThatsGoodSports (@BrandonPerna) April 26, 2020
Think about it, Miami’s best quarterbacks since Dan Marino were:
- Castaway by the New York Jets (and subsequently got his shoulder destroyed like everyone predicted)
- (Allegedly) Forced upon us by Stephen Ross because he knew what a new quarterback would inject into a flat-lining brand (ie: making $$)
Between Chad Pennington and Ryan Tannehill there is 1 playoff appearance and 0 playoff wins.
There are definitive reasons why the Dolphins are executing a rebuild in 2019-2020 – after attempting to rebuild numerous times already this century – and you can say that lots of it has to do with the Head Coaches that have been in place.
Watching Ryan Tannehill lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship came was the most-conflicted I’ve felt in a long time as a Dolphins fan. I was thrilled he was able to prove himself, but frustrated that my team was once again watching from the couch.
Heck, for all the praise we give Brian Flores, he couldn’t get Minkah Fitzpatrick to buy into his system – ultimately losing a near-Defensive MVP player to an organization that has been breathing success since the Dolphins’ perfect 1972 season.
Miami hasn’t lacked talent – it’s why they’re constantly hovering around 8-8. The problem is, they lack the most important piece on the football field combined with the right leader to mold them. Which explains why they constantly sit around 8-8.
The Future We Created
But thoughts of perpetual 8-8 seasons are a thing of the past. The Dolphins may have drafted their future franchise quarterback back in April, but they officially rolled out their #1 prize just a few days ago. Coincidentally, just 3 days after Rosen was released.
First look at Tua Tagovailoa in a Dolphins uniform: pic.twitter.com/7N3Fh95Mqt
— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) September 7, 2020
The timing is likely coincidental, but who says omens have to be a bad thing?
This Dolphins team is young (thanks to Chris Grier), determined (courtesy of Brian Flores’ mindset), talented (after accumulating so many draft picks) and they’re wise beyond their years.
Interesting stuff here. At press time, the Dolphins are the 2nd youngest team in the NFL by .1 years of age (Jacksonville). After having the 7th oldest roster in 2018, Miami had the youngest in 2019 and now 2nd youngest in 2020. https://t.co/Ns5IoesIQd
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) September 6, 2020
"He's a really good player. One thing that's really special about Noah is his maturity," Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones said of Igbinoghene. "It's really cool to see a young guy like that come into the league and be so prepared."
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) September 9, 2020
With a bounty of draft picks at their disposal once again in 2021, and with a franchise quarterback seemingly set to take over by season’s end, the future for the Miami Dolphins looks EXTREMELY bright.
After most “experts” predicted the Dolphins would go nearly winless – some even calling for criminal investigations to be conducted – Flores showed off his leadership and led Miami to a 5-11 record.
If the worst roster in the NFL can win 5 games, what can an improved roster accomplish?
Last year, there were too many holes on the roster to count. Now, you’re desperate to find a missing piece. In 12 months, we’ve gone from cringe-worthy to dynasty-bound in some expert’s eyes.
NBC's Peter King picks Dolphins to win AFC East and be 4th seed, behind Baltimore, KC, Tennessee. And (if you missed this), CBS/NFL Net's Nate Burleson said Dolphins have best chance of any team of becoming a dynasty excluding KC: https://t.co/dOm5zhhVkV
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) September 7, 2020
So have the Dolphins finally returned to football relevance?
If this team really identified the right Head Coach, and if Tua’s hip can stay healthy, then there’s no reason why the Miami Dolphins aren’t about to embark on a successful crusade that takes the rest of the NFL by storm.
Earlier this year, we lost one of the greatest leaders to ever bless our organization. In honor of the all-time wins leader, the Miami Dolphins will wear a patch signifying Don Shula’s record-setting 347 career wins.
And who knows, maybe this renaissance is Shula’s last gift to an organization – and a community – that he spent his life already giving so much to. The symbolism would be all-too coincidental otherwise.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) May 4, 2020
The Baltimore Ravens/Lamar Jackson Trade:
Yes, I understand every other team passed on Jackson. I also understand the Ravens passed on him once when they selected Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick that year, but Baltimore has built a championship-caliber organization over the past two decades, while the Dolphins have accomplished one playoff win – I think they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt here.
The Lamar Jackson trade can be broken down like this:
- Baltimore traded pick 52 (2nd-round) to move up to 32nd-overall (1st)
- Baltimore also sent Philadelphia pick 125 in the deal, but they received pick 132 in return – a downgrade of 7 spots in the 4th-round.
- Otherwise, all Baltimore spent was a 2nd-round pick in 2019 (which ended up being pick #53).
Eagles Receive Picks: 52 (2nd), 125 (4th) and pick 53 (2nd) in the 2019 draft
Ravens Receive Picks: 32 (1st) and 132 (4th)
There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL
Think Brian Flores & Chris Grier aren’t smart?
After successfully navigating through all of the pre-draft smokescreens better than teenagers can survive the high school rumor mill, the Miami Dolphins are in a position to flourish for the next decade.
Yes, it’s something we’ve said before almost annually, but this time, there’s a clear foundation that will allow the roots of this franchise to prosper.
We’ve Heard This Before
Tony Sparano blossomed under the Bill Parcells‘ coaching tree in Dallas, bringing with him an aura of prominence and a pedigree for smash mouth football.
After a miraculous 10-game turnaround that took Miami from #1 overall in the draft to division winners, fans felt they had the proper leadership in place.
That was soon debunked when the Dolphins followed an 11-5 (2008) season with 7-9 (2009), 7-9 (2010) and 6-10 (2011). It’s not that any of us feel that Sparano was a bad coach, but it was more-than-evident that he was handicapped at the quarterback position.
The Dolphins go 11-5 in 2008 because their quarterback was the runner-up in the MVP race, and they falter to 7-9 after that because they decided to build around Chad Henne.
I really though back in 2011 after the first opening drive of the season that it was the Dolphins year. This drive by Chad Henne was BEAUTIFUL. pic.twitter.com/dt7WlZoINy
— Cedrick Allen (@SeeCeddyRun) April 16, 2020
Good coach, but poor coaching decisions.
From there, the Dolphins hired one of the best human beings on the planet – Joe Philbin. The notorious problem with Philbin was: he couldn’t lead a football team.
Failing to rein in Vontae Davis‘ hangovers, everything regarding Richie Incognito, the Chad Ochocinco saga (check out this damning ESPN article from 2012, which gives you a glimpse into how the player’s felt about Philbin early on), and all of the Mike Wallace drama. Those football teams had some decent talent, yet were never better than a mediocre 8-8 in Philbin’s 4 years.
Great person, but terrible with people.
Adam Gase then took a 1-4 season and made the playoffs at 10-6. All the optimism surrounding Ryan Tannehill seemed justified, and we were ecstatic for the future. But we came to learn that Gase’s coaching talents resembled more of a glorified offensive coordinator, which left players feelings ostracized and without a sense of direction – especially those on defense.
Like Philbin, Gase wanted a group of players that followed him, rather than developing a strategy that tailored to his players’ strengths. He traded away (or failed to re-sign) productive players drafted by Grier in years past, just because he couldn’t handle them.
After a 10-6 start to his coaching career (2016), we watched our hopes dwindle to 6-10 (2017) – accompanied with $10m worth of embarrassing Jay Cutler highlights – and then 7-9 (2018) after the “quarterback guru” couldn’t get any production out of a 2019 Pro Bowl & AFC Championship quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.
Jay Cutler really sold his involvement in the Wildcat 😂 pic.twitter.com/WsjyRHyzoC
— NFL on ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsNFL) October 1, 2017
Offensive visionary, but he couldn’t see past his own shortcomings.
So Why is This Different?
This would be the definition of insanity….if it meant that we were following the same trend.
Yes, we understand the eternal caveat that we won’t know for sure until we see the results, but after a successful 2019 – and a stellar 2020 draft that features plenty of starting potential – we’re not going too far out on a limb to say that they have our trust.
Going into a vital 2020 NFL draft where the team held 3 first-round picks, the Miami Dolphins’ future rested solely on the leis of Tua Tagovailoa. For months we were on edge, because, as Dolphins fans, we just figured they would screw it up. But once they secured their quarterback of the future, the plan was simple: protect him.
Not only was the plan to build a wall in front of him, but Grier and Flores identified that some of these positions take more time to develop than others. Rarely do offensive and defensive linemen jump right in and become dominant players. The difference between pancaking teenagers in college to moving a mountain-of-a-man in the NFL is colossal.
The 18th pick in April's draft turns 21 today! https://t.co/teEPyKtGSe
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) August 11, 2020
Rookies go through such a strenuous process to improve their draft stock – immediately after completing a full college season – that they are burned out by the time their rookie year is over. That’s exactly what happened to Michael Deiter towards the end of last season; it’s no surprise we see their performance start to slide after putting in so much work throughout the year.
Drafting Austin Jackson (18th-overall pick), Robert Hunt (39th), and Solomon Kindley (111th) means Miami is giving their rookies time to grow before being asked to protect their most-important asset since Dan Marino.
The Miami Dolphins have drafted a possibly transcendent QB, traded for an explosive, young, proven NFL RB, taken potential studs at LT and RT, added depth and strength to DL and interior OL and taken two talented, versatile DBs. How’s your draft going?
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) April 25, 2020
Instead of a trying to learn the nuances of the NFL with a rookie quarterback, they can learn how an offensive play is properly setup, executed and audibled under a veteran, Ryan Fitzpatrick.
When it comes time to protect Tua Tagovailoa in 2021, they won’t have to worry if they understood the protection, if they’ll make a rookie mistake, or if they’ll naively and unintentionally do something embarrassing or costly. They’ll be able to focus on executing the play properly, giving Tua an ample amount of time to handle his own “rookie” adjustments.
With Raekwon Davis, the Dolphins acquire another player at a position that tends to need some time to grow. This move makes me wonder what the future holds for Davon Godchaux, who is expected to receive a very nice payday in free agency after this season, but for now, Miami can rely heavily on Godchaux and their 2019 1st-round pick, Christian Wilkins. Davis has the opportunity to learn under these two as he prepares to take on a much bigger role in 2021.
With their final 1st-round pick, Miami selected another young player at a cornerstone position. The adjustments rookie cornerbacks need to make when guarding an NFL receiver are somewhat substantial, and Noah Igbinoghene will be able to learn and make these adjustments while covering the opponent’s third or forth receiver – with the added security that he has an array of established and Pro Bowl veterans behind him.
This might hint at an ugly and somewhat inconsistent 2020 season, as roughly half of this roster is new to the team, but all of these young players will start to excel as Tua begins to transition into our full-time starting quarterback.
Which means the Miami Dolphins are ready to make a legitimate playoff run in 2021.
Is it possible all of these risks falter? Of course! Austin Jackson just turned 21 years old, and he wasn’t viewed as the best left tackle in college last season – he is a projection. Noah Igbinoghene wasn’t viewed as a 1st-round caliber cornerback, as most “experts” think he’s restricted to covering the slot rather than becoming a boundary corner. And then you have the general, inevitable fact that some of these picks just won’t pan out.
Austin Jackson is young. He needs time to develop his technique and his play strength. I don't think he's ready to start in the NFL right now. He's got the talent to develop into something special, but a bunch of these "high upside, raw technique" guys don't get better in the NFL
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) April 24, 2020
But we watched players like Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, Raekwon McMillan, Vince Biegel and Nik Needham take the “next step” under Brian Flores stewardship. It only makes us wonder who he’ll coach up next.
Now that Flores is more-comfortable as a sophomore coach, and the team understands his “win no matter what” philosophy, Miami should naturally thrive in year two….right?
Like all of these other coaches before him, Flores is an absolute genius after year one. And like all those coaches before him, he’s one season away from looking like a dunce.
- Miami Dolphins Week 9 Monday Morning Thoughts November 9, 2020
- The Miami Dolphins – A Tale of Two Franchises September 10, 2020
- There’s A Fine Line Between Being A Genius & Being Dumb in the NFL August 12, 2020
- Dolphins Waive TE Michael Roberts July 27, 2020
- In A Perfect World, Tua Tagovailoa Doesn’t Start a Single Game July 27, 2020