As the NFL comes to its summer crawl, we’re going to be looking into each of the Miami Dolphins’ 2018 opponents leading up to training camp.
Cincinnati Bengals – Week 5
2017 Recap: (7-9, 3rdAFC North – No Playoffs)
Like the Dolphins, Cincinnati has been stuck in something of a perpetual cycle. The five consecutive trips to the post-season from 2011-2015 did not yield a single playoff victory. Since, the Bengals have toiled to just 13 wins over the last two seasons.
Marvin Lewis (a.k.a. Teflon Marv) survived his fifteenth season with the team despite accruing eight losing campaigns in his unparalleled tenure. 2017 was punctuated with back-to-back wins over a lifeless Lions team and division rival (Baltimore) that had everything to play for.
A.J. Green missed some time with an injury, the offensive line was a tire fire and Andy Dalton continued the sporadic arc of his dubious career.
Perhaps the silver lining: the Bengals uncovered one of the game’s best cornerbacks in William Jackson and the defensive line room continues to churn out productive pass rusher.
2018 Coaching Changes:
Bill Lazor took over the offense and play calling duties after an atrocious start that saw the Bengals fail to reach pay dirt in back-to-back home games to start the year. He remains in that position with Alex Van Pelt taking his previous digs as the quarterback coach. Bob Bicknell supplants James Urban in the wide receiver room, and Frank Pollack now mans the offensive line position previously held by Robert Couch.
Teryl Austin will now coordinate the defense previously coached up by Paul Guenther. Joining him is Daronte Jones taking over for Kevin Coyle in the secondary.
2018 Notable Roster Changes:
|Newcomer||Role / Projected Snap Count|
|LT Cordy Glenn (Buffalo)||Starter / 100%|
|DT Chris Baker (Tampa Bay)||Rotational / 50%|
|LB Preston Brown (Buffalo)||Starter / 100%|
|QB Matt Barkley (Arizona)||Backup|
|Departed||Role / Snaps Played|
|C Russell Bodine (Buffalo)||Starter / 100%|
|QB A.J. McCarron (Buffalo)||Backup / 2.7%|
|LB Kevin Minter (NY Jets)||Depth / 17.28%|
|RB Jeremy Hill (New England)||Depth / 8%|
|DE Chris Smith (Cleveland_||Rotational / 34.99%|
|RT Andrew Smith (Arizona)||Starter / 55.72%|
Projected Cornerstones (75%+ snap takers) – 2017 PFF Positional Rank:
QB Andy Dalton – 16th/ 40
WR A.J. Green – 17th/ 118
DT Geno Atkins – 2nd/ 124
DE Carlos Dunlap – 17th/ 64
LB Preston Brown – 63rd/ 90
CB William Jackson – 7th/ 120
CB Dre Kirkpatrick – 94th/ 120
CB Darqueze Dennard – 22nd/ 120
S Georg Iloka – 53rd/ 89
S Shawn Williams – 48th/ 89
The Other Key Contributors:
Joe Mixon enters year-two as the clear-cut number one running back. Mixon offers a rare blend of speed and power along with the traits that make him a coveted option on all three downs. Running behind rookie center Billy Price and new left tackle Cordy Glenn could lead to a breakout sophomore season.
The Bengals are flush with options off the edge every year it seems. Jordan Willis is an astute rusher as an end, but quasi-SAM backer Carl Lawson had an even bigger impact as a rookie. His role should expand in year-two – especially now that he’s working under Teryl Austin.
Vontaze Burfict is a bonehead, but he’s still a highly productive player. After serving his annual suspension, he brings a level of intensity and play-making to a Bengals defense that is lacking in that regard at the linebacker position.
Tale of the Tape:
As cliché as it sounds, everything starts up front for the Bengals. The tackle play was positively horrendous in 2017. Cedric Ogbuehi and Andre Smith were replaced, but Cincinnati will gamble that Jake Fisher can get it figured out in year-four.
Billy Price will serve as the lynchpin inside. The most important player for a zone-blocking scheme, Price displayed elite movement and technical traits at Ohio State. Price’s immediate emergence and the volume and deception of Lazor’s offense are keys to this group coming back from the dead.
After a start that had his future in jeopardy, Andy Dalton rebounded under Lazor’s tutelage. Dalton’s penchant for preparation and advantageous match-ups dictated by scheme allowed for the rhythm passer to go on a completion-percentage tear.
Then A.J. Green went down. And as has been the case for far too long in Cincy, Green is the engine that drives that offense. Without the blazing, leaping Green, the Bengals attack is devoid of play makers that can create separation and command the defense’s attention.
Cincinnati did very little to mitigate that issue this off-season. Brandon LaFell, Tyler Eifert and Tyler Boyd are being counted on to give Lazor substantial snaps.
On paper, this group has mega-implosion potential. Dalton is one of the game’s most inconsistent passers. Playing behind a leaky offensive line with minimal impact players on the edge is the recipe for another season of offensive ineptitude.
A surprisingly stingy defense is being built in the Queen City. Geno Atkins is the focal point of a defensive line that consistently creates pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Assuming improvements in their sophomore seasons, Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis provide Teryl Austin a bevy of pass-rushing lines.
The primary ends, Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, are incredibly disruptive in the passing game. Tampa Bay defect Chris Baker gives the Bengals another interior pass rush option. Baker figures to replace starting nose tackle Andrew Billings on passing downs.
Austin’s claim to fame is turning the Lions secondary into a ball hawking nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. In William Jackson, Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick, Austin has a trio of athletic marvels that can make plays on the football.
The issue with the Bengals is going to be the run defense. Slight at linebacker, and a wide-open scheme, there isn’t a lot of hope as far as filling the B-gap-to-B-gap weakness of Austin’s system.
If teams are able to line up and run it down the Bengals’ throats, and Dalton’s offense sputters yet again, the pass rush will prove irrelevant.
Match-Up with Miami:
This Bengals team could mirror the Dolphins in a few ways. Both teams want to create pressure on the quarterback and take the football away with a feisty secondary. It’ll be crucial for the Dolphins receivers to get off the early jams and disruption efforts of the Bengals’ stout secondary.
Dennard emerged in the slot just as Jackson did on the perimeter, but Kirkpatrick might be the area Miami can pick on. Despite his 6-2 frame, he tends to shy away from contact and could get bodied out by larger receivers like Devante Parker.
Miami has to handle Geno Atkins inside – he’s a game-wrecker. The issue there will be committing extra bodies with an edge rush that is entirely capable of doing the same.
As is normally the case, the Dolphins will want to get the football out of Ryan Tannehill’s hands early and establish a running game. Alleviating some of the pressure provided by the Bengals edge defenders will be paramount.
Defensively for Miami, it’s all about which Andy Dalton shows up. He’s liable to throw inaccurate passes all over the field and put the ball in the opposition’s hand. A.J. Green torched the Dolphins last time, though Xavien Howard wasn’t the accomplished player he became last season. That’ll be a crucial match-up and one that Howard can win.
Trap Game Potential:
Cincinnati hosts its most hated rival in week six (Pittsburgh), so a peak ahead is a possibility. However, with a coach on thin ice, a shaky roster and a tough opening slate, the Bengals could have their backs up against the wall early on. A desperate team is usually a good team.
The Dolphins will be fresh off a showdown in Foxboro and on their second consecutive trip to the Northeast/Midwest.
A clear advantage does not exist in this match-up as far as trap game scenarios go.
Week-Five in a Nutshell:
This game has the potential to provide either team with a springboard into the middle portions of their season. The Bengals are breaking in a new defensive coordinator and a re-made offensive line while the Dolphins are still trying to uncover its own identity.
Nobody on the field is better than A.J. Green in this game, and if Xavien Howard can frustrate him the way he did with Julio Jones in the second half of the Atlanta game in 2017, Miami will get out with a victory.
Playing on the road is never an easy task, but the Dolphins have enjoyed quite a bit of success in Cincinnati over the years. Perhaps the Bengals will be entering a rebuild with a slow start to the season.
Then again, Marvin Lewis has survived this long.
State of the AFC East
With the aging empire of the New England Patriots hopefully coming to an end in the coming years the arms race and power struggle will enter overdrive. The Patriots have run this division for over a decade but all things must come to an end, with Tom Brady nearing his goal of playing till 45 and Bill Belichick turning 66 there is blood in the water, and the rest of the East will look to grab the crown and run with it.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady’s play has declined but that hasn’t stopped New England from being a powerhouse, the offensive line will welcome Isiah Wynn back the former 1st rounder, he tore his Achilles in camp 2018. The skill positions are mixed, Sony Michelle provided a solid rookie campaign but there are holes in the wide receiver and tight end positions. Rob Gronkowski is pondering retirement meanwhile Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson are all set to hit Free Agency. Defensively New England has excelled on maximizing talent with what they have but with that being said they have some notable players departing such as Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown, and possibly the McCourty twins.
Free Agent Acquisition:
Markus Golden (EDGE)
Pick 32, 1st round:
Kelvin Harmon (WR)
New York Jets
The New York Jets are not a star-studded team and will be ongoing a scheme change led by Coach Adam Gase. Offensively it would be easier to name what they do have then to name what they don’t, Sam Darnold is the only true “bright” spot on the offensive side of the ball. Multiple reports state that Isiah Crowell will be released in the coming month so half back will need to be addressed, in addition to wide receiver, tight end, and offensive line. On the opposite side of the ball things seem to be a bit more promising with Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye. New York will need to add a true pass rusher along with some other linebackers and defensive backs as well.
Free Agent Acquisition:
Le’Veon Bell (HB)
Pick 3, 1st round:
Josh Allen (EDGE)
Buffalo has a good defense that is paired with the 31st ranked offense, they are in need of talent to surround Josh Allen with. Josh Allen needs an entire cast around him, most importantly an offensive line who can buy him some time, but it doesn’t stop there. After releasing former fullback wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and Charles Clay the only player who can truly garner some targets is aging halfback Lesean McCoy. Although the defense has played well they are also in need of some attention, with Kyle Williams retiring they will need another defensive tackle in addition to a true edge rusher. This roster is still being rebuilt and could use talent on almost every level offensively but they need to give injury prone Josh Allen some decent offensive line play.
Free Agent Acquisition:
Trenton Brown (OT)
Pick 9, 1st round:
Jawaan Taylor (OT)
Our beloved Miami Dolphins will be going through many changes and a complete rebuild directed by Chris Grier and Brian Flores. Miami has talent at the skill positions with young and inexpensive talent at halfback, tight end, and wide receiver. With the upcoming release/trade of Ryan Tannehill the biggest need will be finding his replacement via free agency or draft. Resources will have to be allocated to the trenches as Miami lacks talent on the interior offensive line and on the edge defensively. Miami’s defense is looking to be a multiple look defense in order to achieve this they will have to add versatility on every level off the defense and add depth to the secondary. This regime will be taking the long painful road of a true rebuild as Miami has been mediocre for far too long.
Free Agent Acquisition:
Mitch Morse (OL)
Pick 13, 1st round:
Rashan Gary (EDGE)
Madden 19 Giveaway:
I am giving away Madden 19 on Xbox One for free, all you have to do is find my favorite player. I will add a clue to every article until someone answers correctly. Tweet the answer to me and DM me on twitter @BrazilCandido and don’t forget to give the @LockedOnDolphins and it’s writers some love as well!
HERE IS THE HINT:
My favorite player once caught 29 passes in a season while 11 of them went for TDs! That means over a 3rd of his receptions were Touchdowns!
Dolphins Senior Bowl Watchlist
With 266 of the slated 267 games on the 2018 NFL schedule in the books, the focus of the league shifts to Mobile, Alabama. The site of the college football’s most prestigious all-star game since 1951, Mobile transforms from to an otherwise quiet city to a veritable who’s who of NFL decision-makers.
The term “all-star” is rather fraudulent in its intention. This week isn’t about festivities or acknowledgement; it’s the first step on a long path towards elevating young men’s football lives from amateur to professional.
Two-hour practice sessions, endless meetings and whiteboard testing, these young men are about to be ran through the grind of an NFL work week. With scouts, coaches, and executives from every team (even Brian Flores and his unofficial status with Miami), this week in Mobile is the precursor to the meat market that is the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The big question the casual observer has is, “what can I take away from this week?” The NFL Network airs practices from Tuesday through Thursday, and the game on Saturday. Additionally, plenty of credentialed media members will be covering the week (including plenty of our own at Locked On Podcasts), providing us with more resources than ever before.
Here on Locked On Dolphins, we will have a daily practice report that includes those that shined in the individual and team periods – but also a cumulative tracker for all of Miami’s meets and player interests.
In prior off-season preview columns, we have highlighted Miami’s core areas of need for the 2019 season. Here, we will list the positions in order of need, and discuss the players Miami should keep a close eye on at said positions of need. Also, a brief tidbit on what you should look for this week when you turn on the NFLN and see guys running around in shells and shorts.
Unfortunately, the top two prospects at this crucial position are underclassmen (Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins). Last year’s Senior Bowl provided a close-up look to Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen (both top 10 picks). This rendition features a trio of potential first round picks and plenty intriguing of day-two or day-three options.
1.) Daniel Jones, Duke – 6’5” 220
Propped up as a potential top-10 pick, Jones is the classic case of being elevated due to the urgent need of his position. Jones’ arm is teetering on the line of NFL-worthy and popgun. He doesn’t drive the ball to the field and he struggles with touch, accuracy, and anticipation. When he does find power on his throws, it comes from a long wind-up and a clean base. Any trash at his feet or flashing colors in his face presents problems for the elongated set-up.
Jones isn’t capable of extending plays or beating pressure with his arms or legs. He will chew up some yards with long speed, but his lateral agility and quickness aren’t there (think of Ryan Tannehill). He doesn’t process particularly well and will set himself up for huge shots in the pocket.
Frankly, I’m not seeing what other scouts do. I think he’s more of a day-three project than a first round pick.
2.) Drew Lock, Missouri – 6’4” 225
Physical traits aplenty, Lock has the biggest arm in Mobile this week. Because of that, and the lack of real in-game simulations, I expect him to help himself the most. He can drive the football vertically and to the perimeter, but his accuracy comes and goes. He doesn’t always establish a firm platform and will try the adjusted arm-angle throws, but he doesn’t exactly have the same control in that area as the originator, Patrick Mahomes.
Lock struggled against superior defenses that brought pressure. The bigger the SEC opponent, the more Lock’s game shrunk. He was overmatched by the likes of Georgia and Alabama.
Though he plays with the desired confidence and swagger, his game isn’t there to match. He’s rumored to be a fringe first-round prospect, though rumblings about Denver targeting him with the 10th pick have picked up steam. In my world, he’s in play for Miami’s second-round pick.
3.) Will Grier, West Virginia – 6’2” 223
Playing in a wide-open scheme in Morgantown, Grier’s deficiencies were overshadowed by his gaudy production and clutch moments. While the latter shouldn’t be neglected (he has some stones in critical moments), the former dampers the scouting report.
Grier simply doesn’t have the requisite arm to complete all the throws required in an NFL offense. With tighter windows and quicker defenders, he’s bound to be exposed at the next level. It’ll be extremely important for Grier to impress in the meeting rooms, but also show some velocity with all the scouts there to see him in person.
He does have a penchant for anticipatory throwing and the skill set to go off-platform and off-script, but he rarely had to do it in West Virginia. He’s a touch and timing thrower that looks terrific with sound protection. Grier might get pushed up the draft board, but I wouldn’t consider him an option prior to the third round.
4.) Tyree Jackson, Buffalo – 6’7” 245
Eligible for as a graduate transfer to a power-five program, Jackson instead opted to test the NFL waters before his stock could climb. Jackson is a physical marvel with a big-time arm, impressive stature, and enough escapability to make him a threat at the next level.
His mechanics will waver on occasion and his release point’s inconsistency causes a lot of inaccurate throws. He has plenty to clean up before he’s ready to compete for playing time at the next level. Jackson is a day-three option for the Dolphins.
5.) Gardner Minshew, Washington State – 6’2” 220
Taking Mike Leach’s Cougs from a projected sixth-place Pac 12 finish, all the way to a win-and-in season-finale for the conference championship game, Minshew was THE reason.
His leadership, high-level processing, and gamer-mentality hid the shortcomings in his physical prowess. Like a lot of his comrades in Mobile, Minshew’s arm strength is right on the boarder of acceptable at this level.
He’s prone to the fist-clenching decision once he goes off-script, while the wide-open nature of Leach’s air raid doesn’t do the former East Carolina Pirate any favors.
Minshew figures to be a day-three project with his upside falling somewhere between low-level starter and high-quality backup.
Edge (Linebackers) –
This position is going to be defined differently for the 2019 Miami Dolphins than it had been in the previous three seasons. Scrapping the disastrous wide-9 scheme, the Dolphins figure to adopt the linebacker-rush heavy scheme of Brian Flores and the New England Patriots.
So, because of that distinction, we are going to lump outside backers in with pure pass-rushing defensive ends for this group. The heftier defensive ends will be included with the interior down-linemen position as Miami’s scheme calls for new prototypes.
1.) Jalen Jelks, Oregon – 6’5” 245
A tad wiry, Jelks played with his hand in the dirt at Oregon. His quickness showed up both in the run and pass game through a variety of avenues. He’s capable of winning immediately off the snap and converting that speed to power with a steady base. He has the length, fluidity and instincts to win individually but also play within the framework of the defense.
The fit with Miami comes from a possible conversion an on-ball line-of-scrimmage defender. His thin frame causes issues when doubled, but Miami can counter that weakness by protecting Jelks via the scheme.
2.) Germaine Pratt, North Carolina State – 6’3”, 245
Pratt’s speed and coverage skills are evident of his conversion from safety to interior linebacker. He will surely convert to the outside in his pro career with terrific range and instincts in the passing game.
Though he added weight to his frame jumping into the front-seven, Pratt can still get over-powered. If he wants to be a true edge linebacker in this scheme, he’ll have to get stronger at the point of attack. His work in both zone and man coverage could help Miami’s pass defense immensely.
3.) Bobby Okereke, Stanford – 6’3’’ 234
Miami has been getting exposed by backs and tight ends in the passing game for far too long. Okereke covers a ton of ground in zone, but can match-up in man coverage as well. He will clean up plays as a rusher and struggles defeating blocks en route to the quarterback.
Okereke could be a sub-package coverage dynamo at the next level.
4.) Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion – 6’3” 247
Presenting the first truly physically dominant player in this group, Ximines offers the strength to anchor and defend the run better than his position-mates listed in this column. He’s not going to line-up one-on-one with a back or a tight end and win, but he does have a variety of pass rush moves and enough run-stuffing ability to make him an intriguing prospect.
5.) Otara Alaka, Texas A&M – 6’2’’ 240
Best suited as a SAM linebacker, Alaka draws intrigue from Miami’s multiple linebacker packages. In Sunday’s AFCCG win, the Patriots often deployed four linebackers in the line-up using stronger, sturdier outside ‘backers to shut down the Chiefs rush lanes early in the series. He’s a sure tackler with a high motor, but he offers very little by way of rush of coverage prowess.
The omission you’re looking for is Montez Sweat. With his prowess coming with a hand in the dirt, and his slight frame, I don’t foresee him being on Miami’s radar. This position requires speed, bend, a variety of moves and change of direction. When rushing the passer, watch how they square their opponent and if they have the hands and counter moves to initiate and beat contact. Burst and get-off top the list, obviously.
When it comes to coverage, mirroring is vital. Squaring up the target to initiate the jam will dictate the entirety of the route. Watch how these guys stay in control and on balance when they initiate the contact as it allows them to explode and cut down separation created once the pass catcher sheds the contact.
Interior Offensive Line
This side of the ball will provide more of a challenge with the uncertainty of the offensive play-caller in Miami. Jim Caldwell is set to coach the quarterbacks, but I think it’s disingenuous to glean any idea from his time in Detroit or Indianapolis regarding what Miami will do up front.
For the Dolphins, a complete rebuild could be in the works at this spot. Miami desperately needs stabilization at center and Josh Sitton and Jesse Davis hardly inspire hope as starting guards.
1.) Michael Deiter, Wisconsin – 6’6” 310
Wisconsin breeds offensive linemen and Deiter is the next in line to cash in with a lofty draft spot come Late-April. Deiter has played all three positions at a high level. He has the mental aptitude to regularly recognize and pick up stunts and he moves exceptionally well for a man of his size.
Deiter could be a first round trade-back option if the Dolphins are serious about refortifying the offensive line.
2.) Chris Lindstrom, Boston College – 6’4” 310
A mauler better suited for gap/man power-schemes, Lindstrom is as consistent as they come. Always available and scheme diverse, Lindstrom will be a quick transition into the league as an early starter.
He’s technically sound with strong hands and the movement skills to get out in space.
3.) Garrett Bradbury, North Carolina State – 6’3” 300
The theme at this position is the technical aptitude of these young men. Something of a lost art in the college game as teams focus more on pace than finishing, Bradbury is a breath of fresh air. The former tight end displays his fluid lower half, but didn’t sacrifice that movement when he added the requisite weight to kick inside.
4.) Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State – 6’4” 313
With athleticism to climb to the second level and operational functionality against games up front (stunts and twists (both have killed Miami recently)), Jenkins could be the answer to the black hole that is the center position in Miami.
If the Dolphins continue forward with a zone blocking scheme, Jenkins is right up there for interior options.
5.) Dru Samia, Oklahoma – 6’5” 303
Position-diverse, Samia played tackle his first year before kicking inside to guard for his final three in Norman, OK. The technical proficiency and athleticism required to play in the up-tempo scheme of the Sooners pops on tape each week.
His ability to pick up games and anchor against the rush throughout the week could really solidify Samia’s spot as a top interior line prospect.
This is a stellar crop of interior linemen. The colts rebranded their operation by doubling down on Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith in 2018 – that option is on the table for Miami in 2019.
When you watch these big boys this week, keep an eye on their pad level, waste bend, and ability to absorb contact and maintain balance. They have a tough time in the one-on-one drills designed to make rushers look good, but the initial stance and ability to strike the rusher between the shoulders is always a good sign.
Interior Defensive Line
This group includes more than just the beef on the inside for Miami. We’ve covered Trey Flowers’ importance in New England’s defense ad nauseam for the last two weeks. Size, two-gap quickness and technique versatility are Miami’s aims here at this position.
1.) Daylon Mack, Texas A&M – 6’1” 320
With a great squatty-body, Mack has the bubble and burst to dictate the point-of-attack inside. He’s deceptively quick off the ball which gives him even more value in this new scheme where the interior D-line will be asked to two-gap.
Mack, a five-star recruit out of high school, earned his way from the Shrine Game into Senior Bowl week. He’s not to be mistaken from an elite rush prospect on the interior, but Miami is severely lacking depth alongside Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor. Mack could play the nose, 2-tech, 2i and 3-tech in this defense.
2.) Isiah Buggs, Alabama – 6’4”, 290
More of a 5-tech in the new varied front scheme, Buggs relies on strong hands and a powerful base to help set and dent the edge in the run game. Playing under Nick Saban, Buggs is instinctive enough to recognize and defeat leverage. He’s a violent, rocked-up house of bricks that’s ready to play immediately.
The keys to watch for are similar to what we want to see from the offensive line. Can they consistently knock the man across from them backwards in both team and individual portions? Also, don’t be afraid to up-and-down their backsides. We need to see big ankles, calves and booties to properly gage their sheer power. When they get into their set-up and stance, do they bend at the knees, or does their waste go parallel? You do not want to see the latter.
1.) Amani Oruwariye, Penn State – 6’1” 204 (Corner)
A lengthy, rangy corner with terrific ball skills makes Oruwariye an intriguing prospect to watch this week in Mobile. His ideal fit is in press coverage and in a zone scheme (two things Miami will do a lot of). His ball tracking and natural instincts allow him to make plays both in man, but also peering in from a cover-3 defense.
The rest of this group is lacking in a lot of the departmental traits Miami desires. The glut of this draft class’ prowess at the position comes from underclassmen.
2.) Nassir Adderley, Delaware – 5’11” 200 (Safety)
Miami should be active in their search for a third, rangy safety that can help patrol the back end in sub packages. With Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald filling similar roles, and Minkah Fitzpatrick as a quasi-slot corner/safety, there’s a need here.
Adderley has exceptional range playing the single-high position on the backend of Delaware’s defense. He’s physical with a desire to hit someone in the mouth and he excels in zone coverage.
The number one thing you want to see with these players is the hips. How well to the transition in-and-out of their pedal and how fast can they close on the football. The drills ran this week have a way of weeding out the stiff and unnatural players.
Of course, there are plenty of other players and positions to keep an eye on. We will have those daily reports on the podcast on the site.
Here are some other guys to keep an eye on this week.
RB – Karan Higdon
WR – Debo Samuel, David Sills V
TE – Drew Sample
OT – Andre Dillard
A Miami Guide to the 2019 Quarterback Draft Class
Miami is in the thick of their head coaching search, but let’s be honest, whomever the Dolphins hire won’t excite you quite like seeing a new quarterback line up under center. Could Miami find the next Patrick Mahomes or Baker Mayfield in the draft? Maybe.
I assume most of you are like me and don’t have time to consume pages and pages of scouting reports to dissect all the prospects in this draft and how they’d fit in Miami. In an attempt to solve that problem for quarterbacks, I have compiled the big-name prospects into a short, easily digestible list.
Please keep in mind it’s early in the scouting process as far as what information is available to the public. As with the draft every year in January, it’s likely projections, analysis, etc. change as we close in on April 25-27.
I’d also like to credit and recommend sources such as The Draft Network and Rookie Scouting Profile who not only helped frame this write-up but also provide more in-depth detail and pros/cons of each prospect that go beyond the brief summaries used here.
*yet to declare
Accurate on all levels. Has the velocity necessary for a NFL quarterback. Seemingly-high football IQ. One year starter leading to questions on what he could be.
🚨🚨-THIS-can’t be better done by @dh_simba7 -THIS is QB1 stuff right here man😍😍😍 #RoseBowl2019 #Buckeyes @OhioStFootball @OhioStateFB @Buckeyes @Buckeye_Nation @Brutus_Buckeye pic.twitter.com/St12wssLBI
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 1, 2019
My take: Haskins is the top prospect in this class if he decides to declare. He has potential, but not all experts are on-board with Haskins being a safe day 1 pick. Being a one year starter removes the consistency and improvements some experts like to see year-to-year for quarterbacks worthy of an early round 1 pick. As a Dolphins fan, if you’re wanting a quarterback to start day 1, this is one of the players you’ll want to keep an eye on. It’s likely Miami would need to trade up for a player like Haskins if they decide he is worth the gamble.
Projection: Round 1
Strong enough arm for the NFL and mobile. Accurate at all levels but lacks consistency or experience in anything outside of a quick passing game.
Daniel Jones in a 56-27 Independence Bowl win vs. Temple : 30/41 for 423 yards, 5 TD passes, 1 TD run, 2 INT's & a 88.2 QBR
TJ Rahming : 12 catches for a career-high 240 yards & 2 TD's pic.twitter.com/VQbSb3izsN
— Lee Harvey (@MusikFan4Life25) December 28, 2018
My take: Jones has climbed draft boards this year. Miami will need to implement an offensive scheme to play to his strengths, the quick passing game. A more complex system like the one ex-head coach Adam Gase featured likely won’t align well to Jones’ strengths. Where we’re at today, it’s looking like Jones will be available when Miami selects at #13. Where Jones is a decent quarterback prospect, if Miami is targeting a high-ceiling prospect, it may be best to look over Jones, and truly at that point, look more towards the 2020 draft. I’ll also add, which may not bode well with Miami fans, when I see Jones, I think of Ryan Tannehill.
Projection: Round 1-2
Strong arm but can show some inconsistent accuracy across the field — still, mostly accurate at all levels. Appears to have issues processing the field. Solid pocket presence. True boom or bust prospect.
Drew Lock. Hell of a Throw! pic.twitter.com/spSEqxVKDC
— Giants 5-11 (@NelsonGafanha) December 31, 2018
My take: Intriguing quarterback who was hyped coming into this year. He didn’t show the improvement you’d like to see in a four-year starter, but he has potential and could be something special in this league. Due to his inconsistent play game-to-game and lack of major improvement in his four years at Missouri, it’s likely he falls more in the “bust” category when it’s all said and done. He could be worth a day 2 pick for Miami if scouts find the high-end potential is there.
Projection: Rounds 1-2
Mid-level arm talent in regards to accuracy and strength but could improve with mechanical adjustments. Smart, consistent player with ability to extend plays with his legs (for better or worse).
— Jeremy Platt🏈 (@btwnthetackles) January 2, 2019
My take: “Freelancer” is a great term to describe Grier. He has shown he can make almost every throw. For those who despise current Dolphins quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, for his lack of pocket awareness, a quarterback like Grier may be more to your liking. To add on, he’d compare more to Jay Cutler as a player than Ryan Tannehill. He’ll want a coach who can help him improve his mechanics and design a scheme to fit his strengths, but Grier shows some potential for the next level. Like most quarterbacks who’d be selected in this range, he’ll need a year or two on the bench for he’ll be ready to contribute.
Projection: Rounds 2-3
Average arm strength made up for with good accuracy, top-notch athleticism, and a high football intelligence. Lack of top-end competition is a sizeable drawback.
Let’s start HERE, because I want to get you in the door. This is one of the single greatest throws I’ve ever capped. For multiple reasons. It makes that Will Grier throw against Texas look like child’s play. pic.twitter.com/5kjAuIZGY4
— Chris Kouffman (@ckparrot) November 14, 2018
My Take: A smaller, more athletic Carson Wentz with a slightly less appealing arm is an appropriate way to describe fellow North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick. Stick is just as smart with the football as Wentz, but unlike Wentz (to an extent) he can make plays with his feet when a play breaks down. On top of that, he has the tools you’d look for in an NFL prospect: adequate arm strength, accurate, and a high football IQ. If Miami is looking for a mid-round pick with upside beyond a career back-up, Stick is certainly a target.
Projection: Rounds 3-4
Mostly accurate on all levels. Adequate arm strength for the NFL. Can read the field and extend plays with his feet.
Jordan Ta'amu has the best receiving core in college football and if he keeps making like plays this his senior bowl invite will be interesting. He moves Devin white with his eyes shuffles and fires right down the seam with Arden key coming unblocked . pic.twitter.com/sELqoWcXNn
— trevon godwin (@josequavo904) August 6, 2018
My take: Described as one of the biggest quarterback sleepers for this upcoming draft, Ta’amu is a relatively unknown quarterback who could check all the boxes for NFL scouts. I expect Ta’amu to gain more visibility as we approach April. Ta’amu has potential and should be on the Dolphins radar as a quarterback who may be worth a mid-round, flier pick.
Projection: Rounds 3-4
Can make all the throws necessary both from an accuracy and arm strength perspective. High football-IQ and risk-averse. Relatively consistent player.
My take: As far as players who could step in for the Dolphins, Rypien should be in the conversation. He does the small things right. There is more to be desired or to be seen as to if he could be true game-changer at the quarterback position, but he could be an adequate game manager. In Miami’s case, if they’re looking for someone to come in and compete next year at a relatively low cost (mid-round pick), this may be the guy. However, I wouldn’t expect Rypien to be the savior Miami fans are looking for long-term.
Projection: Rounds 3-5
Accurate short, but inconsistent at anything further. Questionable arm strength relative to the NFL level. Overall, not strong in most categories scouts look for in a quarterback.
My take: It doesn’t appear the upside is there for a player like Finley. He’s experienced, having been in college six years, starting for the last three, but there isn’t a lot to show he’ll be a high-end starter in the NFL.
Projection: Rounds 4-7
Accurate at all levels and has adequate NFL arm strength. However, doesn’t seem to handle pressure well. Not much of a threat to run when things break down.
— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) December 2, 2017
My take: Similar to most quarterbacks in this range, his ceiling isn’t too high. Best case, Stidham could be a solid back-up or spot-starter in this league. For what Miami is looking for, Stidham most likely won’t be the long term solution.
Projection: Rounds 4-7
Inconsistent accuracy and processing which likely will not translate well to the NFL. Playmaker who can extend plays with his feet. Not great but enough arm strength to make the necessary throws.
My take: For those who like the Russell Wilson type of quarterback in terms of extending plays, Minshew may gather some interest for you. However, he lacks in the other departments which will limit him from being a Wilson-type quarterback. I’m gathering he’s best served as a solid backup or spot-starter in the NFL, which is likely not what Miami is in the market for.
Projection: Rounds 4-7
Mid/low level arm strength coupled with inconsistent accuracy. Seems smart enough and has ability to recognize pressure. Has flashes in all categories but overall inconsistent.
My take: Another late round quarterback who has potential to be a good back-up in this league. With Miami wanting that quarterback to take them over the hump, Thorson doesn’t appear to be the answer.
Projection: Rounds 4-7
*yet to declare
Not-elite but good accuracy. Most athletic, dynamic quarterback prospect with more than enough arm strength desired at the NFL level. Can make plays when all things break down.
What. A. Throw.
Kyler Murray and Oklahoma aren't done yet! pic.twitter.com/BdfBe4BLCV
— ESPN (@espn) December 30, 2018
My take: It’s nothing new, but the Murray comparisons to Lamar Jackson are real. Think Jackson but with a more accurate arm. There isn’t a lot out there on Murray regarding draft stock as Murray chose to take give up football in exchange for a baseball career. In the event he changes his mind and switches to football, Murray could be a day 1 game-changing prospect for this Miami franchise. Sure, there are durability concerns when you run as much as he does with his small stature; however, a player like Murray is well worth the risk in a relatively weak quarterback class. He could truly be a difference maker in this offense.
Projection: Round 1
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