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
Know The Enemy – Chicago Bears
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.
Chicago Bears – Week 6
2017 Recap: (5-11, 4thNFC North – No Playoffs)
While the results didn’t deviate from the recent norm in Chicago, hope sprang eternal. Making a move for a quarterback has a city that considers Jay Cutler the best in franchise history buzzing about the future.
Mitch Trubisky had the look of a one-year college starter in his debut season in the NFL. The offense was predicated around a pair of special backs in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, and Trubisky was merely a caretaker that was asked to make one or two plays per game.
Defensively, the Bears have been stockpiling talent for what seems like ages. 2017’s stop unit finally began showing signs progress under Vic Fangio. Without a definitive household name in the bunch, the Chicago defense is predicated on depth and consistency across all three levels.
With seven losses in games where the defense surrendered fewer than 24 points, Chicago had one priority this off-season: remake the offense around their sophomore quarterback.
2018 Coaching Changes:
The Chicago Bears celebrated the New Year by relieving John Fox as head coach of the organization. He was replaced by former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, Matt Nagy.
With the Head Coaching change came a snowball of additional moves.
Nagy hired ex-Notre Dame offensive line coach Harry Hiestand as his assistant head coach as well as the team’s offensive line coach. He then hired former Oregon Ducks head coach, Mark Helfrich, as the team’s offensive coordinator. Helfrich replaced Dowell Loggains, who was subsequently hired by Adam Gase and the Miami Dolphins to be their offensive coordinator.
Though he was originally set to retire after the 2017 season, Nagy was able to persuade Brad Childress to join him in Chicago to be the team’s senior offensive consultant. Childress was the Chief’s co-offensive coordinator (along with Nagy) in 2016.
Some minor additions to the Bear’s coaching staff include Chris Tabor replacing Jeff Rodgers as the team’s special team’s coordinator, Kevin Gilbride replacing Frank Smith as the team’s tight ends coach, Charles London replacing Curtis Modkins as the team’s running back’s coach, and Mike Furrey replacing Zach Azzanni as the wide receiver’s coach. Brock Olivo was also hired to be the assistant special teams coordinator.
Despite a new coach, the entire defensive coaching staff (which was ranked 10thin the league in 2017) was retained. Vic Fangio, the team’s defensive coordinator in 2017, interviewed to be the team’s head coach, but was passed on for Nagy. Fangio signed a 3-year extension shortly thereafter to remain the team’s defensive coordinator.
2018 Notable Roster Changes:
|Newcomer||Role / Projected Snap Count|
|WR Allen Robinson (Jacksonville)||Primary WR / 90%|
|TE Trey Burton (Philadelphia)||Starter / 80%|
|WR Taylor Gabriel (Atlanta)||Starter / 70%|
|DE Aaron Lynch (San Francisco)||Rotational / 50%|
|WR Bennie Fowler (Denver)||Backup / 30%|
|QB Chase Daniel (New Orleans)||Backup|
|Newcomer||Role / 2017 Snap Count|
|OG Josh Sitton (Miami)||Starter / 72.06%|
|OLB Pernell McPhee (Washington)||Starter / 36.39%|
|LB Christian Jones (Detroit)||Rotational / 58.88%|
|WR Kendall Wright (Minnesota)||Starter / 58.7%|
|WR Markus Wheaton (Philadelphia)||Backup / 18.93%|
|QB Mike Glennon (Arizona||Backup / 26.72%|
|DE Mitch Unrein (Tampa Bay)||Rotational / 36.77%|
|OT Tom Compton (Minnesota)||Swing Tackle / 34.62%|
Projected Cornerstones (75%+ snap takers) – 2017 PFF Positional Rank:
QB Mitch Trubisky – 28th/ 40
WR Allen Robinson – DNP 2017 – 2016 – 56th/ 119
TE Trey Burton – 14th/ 72
DE Akiem Hicks – 16th/ 124
OLB Leonard Floyd – 28th/ 46
ILB Roquan Smith – Rookie
CB Kyle Fuller – 36th/ 120
CB Prince Amukamara – 41st/ 120
CB Bryce Callahan – 35th/ 120
S Eddie Jackson – 51st/ 89
S Adrian Amos – 2nd/ 89
The Other Key Contributors:
Using snap counts as the cornerstone player requirement is disingenuous when a team is loaded in the backfield in the way Chicago is currently stocked. Jordan Howard is one of the game’s best zone runners and Tarik Cohen is a human-joystick capable of scoring from anywhere on the field.
The Chicago skill set is flush with talent for the first time in forever. Anthony Miller was arguably the most polished receiver in this year’s draft class and Adam Shaheen made impressive strides as a rookie. With proven talent ahead of them, there’s no pressure to make an immediate impact.
Eddie Goldman isn’t going to light up the stat sheet, but he’ll eat up snaps and blockers on the nose. Danny Trevathan and Sam Acho likely see their roles reduced in lieu of rookie Roquan Smith, but both are sound tacklers and quality players.
Tale of the Tape:
The theme of the early opponent’s on Miami’s schedule is the influx of new coaching staffs. Occupying the big chair is a pupil of the innovative Andy Reid – Matt Nagy. Nagy’s fingerprints are all over the remade offensive personnel. The key will be accelerating the learning curve for Trubisky in year-two.
Drafting James Daniels to pair with Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair on the interior offensive line signals that this offense still flows through the ground game – and why wouldn’t it? Howard and Cohen are complete backs that can beat defenses in a variety of ways.
Just as the running back position goes, the tight end group is flexible and deep. Athleticism, length and the desire to play inline, each of the Bears three tight ends (Burton, Shaheen and Dion Sims) can contribute.
Allen Robinson was the Bears’ homerun of the off-season – health will be the biggest obstacle for the former pro-bowler (returns from a torn ACL).
Without a clear picture of Nagy’s own adaptation of the Andy Reid offense, it’s difficult to predict exactly what the scheme will look like.
A smart gambler would roll the dice on a match-up based offense that can use tempo and mask personnel groupings through versatility. Flexing backs and tight ends to the perimeter, running the zone-read and run-pass-option looks, and the occasional 13-personnel grouping to pound the ball down the opponent’s throat, this offense will take on the shape of its counterpart’s weaknesses.
As has become the trend in the NFL, the Bears defense is built through the secondary. The emergence of Adrian Amos, the opportunistic nature of Eddie Jackson’s game and the steady corner play from all three starters affords coordinator Vic Fangio a lot of ingenuity.
Fangio has been constructing this defense since 2015, and he might finally have the personnel for the rocket to officially launch. Fangio built a juggernaut in San Francisco with similar personnel and the varied fronts to confuse and frustrate opposing quarterbacks.
Akiem Hicks acts as Justin Smith in this iteration of the Fangio D, and the hope is that Leonard Floyd can fill the role of Aldon Smith pre-rap sheet. The weak link of this group is in the lack of depth up front.
Generating pressure via the scheme (blitzes, stunts, twists, etc.) is the blue print. The skill on the back-end allows Fangio to commit more rushers than the league average.
Ideally for Chicago, the defense will be a bend-don’t-break unit that capitalizes on mistakes and creates a lot of turnovers yet again in 2018.
Match-Up with Miami:
Chicago are liable to light the Dolphins run defense up at a moment’s notice. Miami has struggled immensely in dealing with a similar set of backs featured by the New England Patriots (James White and Dion Lewis). To boot, the Dolphins have struggled with tight ends just about on a weekly basis.
Chicago could, for all intents and purposes, hide Trubisky in this contest. Hitting the ‘Phins D with a steady dose of the running game, boots and play-action would make for a long day. Miami made a concerted effort to upgrade the depth and second level of the defense, but the Bears can hit defenses in waves.
Matt Nagy’s evolving offense will likely employ plenty of 12-personnel in this game to take advantage of the mismatches caused by Burton and Shaheen. Forcing the Dolphins to keep additional linebackers on the field (Kiko Alonso, for instance) could open up the Bears deadly screen game.
Offensively for Miami this game is going to fall on the shoulders of the quarterback. With a variety of blitz packages and one-on-one match-ups in the secondary, it’ll be paramount for Ryan Tannehill to identify the soft spots in coverage and get the football out of his hands as quickly as possible.
Creating penetration and running lanes will prove difficult. The Bears offer a lot of beef up front, something the Dolphins offensive line is not equipped to deal with.
Trap Game Potential:
Chicago is coming off its bye week prior to this game. Nagy’s preparation, and the team’s rest should be firing on all cylinders. The ability to break some early tendencies, along with devising some clever screen concepts, could put the Dolphins up against it early.
The hope, for Miami, is that this team traveling from the Midwest down to muggy Miami will pull the cord out of the Bears’ proverbial backs in the fourth quarter.
Fresh legs vs. a weather advantage – those are the miscellaneous factors in this one.
Week-Six in a Nutshell:
These team’s seasons might mirror one-another. There is a lot of talent at key positions, quality depth all across the board and a pair of young coaches hoping to find their way.
The biggest concern for Miami, the strength of the Bears offense (the running game) can attack the Dolphins’ biggest weakness, the run defense.
In even match-ups, it typically comes down to quarterback play. Mitch Trubisky should have a better season, but he’s not close to Ryan Tannehill’s level… yet.
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