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Scouting Reports

State of the AFC East

Oliver Candido

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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.

Dec 23, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and head coach Bill Belichick head out onto the field to shake hands with the Buffalo Bills after their 24-12 win at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots

Roster:

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

Roster:

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 Bills

Roster:

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)

 

Miami Dolphins

Roster:

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!

Oliver was born in Brazil and his family immigrated to the United States, luckily they landed in Miami, Florida. This is where his passion for the Dolphins began but he has spent most of his time in Kansas and that hasn’t stopped his love for the Dolphins. Oliver’s a proud father and husband, when he’s not talking football he’s talking Futbol.

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    Dave

    June 18, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    My spelling will be off but you’re answer is GADSDEN the wide receiver.

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Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Best of the Rest

Travis Wingfield

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Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report
Best of the Rest

Foreword:

7,094 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

Now, for the group battling to infiltrate the top four QBs — the best of the rest.

The Best of the Rest

Any prospect with professional aspirations would prefer to enter his final college season with considerable fanfare and expectations. More attention equals more eyeballs, and more eyeballs equals more opportunity to make an impression.

That’s not to say that expectations are the only path to a Thursday night selection during the NFL’s three-day draft extravaganza. Far from it. With the ever-changing landscape of the college game, each of the last two draft classes saw unknown signal-callers rise from afterthought, to bells of the ball.

Baker Mayfield was — at best — a distant fourth behind Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen entering the 2017 college football season. Kyler Murray was signed, sealed, and delivered to the Oakland A’s and off the radar of NFL scouts entirely. Yet, a short eight months after college football’s opening Saturday, both were standing on the podium with the commissioner before any of their peers.

Tua Tagovailoa is the prohibitive favorite to earn the honorable distinction of first overall pick. Dominant performances at a prominent school will have that affect.

Justin Herbert’s rare physical skills have scouts fawning over Oregon football this fall, while Jordan Love will garner similar jaw-dropping attention.

Then there’s the polished and professional Jake Fromm.

These four quarterbacks will take the field next month and begin their (potentially) final chapters before their NFL dreams are realized.

So who is the pick the rocket up the draft board from seemingly nowhere? The options are vast, and we’ll cover them right now (in no particular order).

D’Eriq King – Houston – 5-11, 195 lbs. (Senior)

The aforementioned Kyler Murray, one year after Baker Mayfield paved the way, ushers in a new way of thinking in regards to projecting passers from college to the professional ranks. King is an electric dual-threat QB — evident by his 50 touchdowns in 2018 despite missing 2.5 games with an ankle injury.

K.J. Costello – Stanford – 6-5, 215 lbs. (Senior)

With ideal size and natural arm talent Costello is a threat to climb draft boards next spring. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he can alter his release points and vary the velocity and touch of his throws for the circumstance. Costello took a big jump in 2018, but needs another significant climb in the mechanical portion of the game to garner first round consideration.

Khalil Tate – Arizona – 6-2, 216 lbs. (Senior)

The transition from Rich Rodriguez’s to Kevin Sumlin impacted Tate in the worst way possible. With game-breaking, dual-threat talent that rivals Kyler Murray, Tate was asked to play more within the structure of a traditional drop back game last season. The result, a dramatic efficiency drop-off across the board. Tate is electrifying with his legs and more than adequate with the arm — he’s a sleeper pick to join Tagovailoa, Fromm, Herbert and Love.

Jacob Eason – Washington – 6-6, 230 lbs. (Senior)

Eason barely has more collegiate accolades than anyone reading this piece. He was a five-star recruit that missed two years due to injury and ineligibility after transferring; this after showing minimal promise as a true freshman at Georgia. Eason is long, and a tad gangly, but he’s an accurate thrower with ideal size for the position.

Sam Ehlinger – Texas – 6-3 235 lbs. (Junior)

Following the trend of athletic quarterbacks taking over professional football, Ehlinger is another prototype player. He’s a threat to score on the ground on any given play, but that’s something of a cover up for some mechanical and arm talent short comings. Ehlinger exploded at the end of the 2018 season, and he needs to continue on that trajectory to vault his draft stock beyond day-three.

Brian Lewerke – Michigan State 6-3, 215 lbs. – (Senior)

Adding Lewerke to this list feels a little disingenuous because I’m clenching to his sophomore season. His junior year at East Lansing was an unmitigated disaster, but the processing, anticipation, accuracy, and off-script prowess were enough for some pundits to tab Lewerke as QB1 heading into 2018.

Honorable Mention: Bryce Perkins (Virginia), Nathan Stanley (Iowa), Cole McDonald (Hawaii)

If expectations play out this season for the Dolphins, a first round quarterback is likely the result at the conclusion of year-one of the rebuild. The future employment of everybody associated with the Dolphins would then depend on getting that draft pick right (Brian Flores, Chris Grier, and the entire coaching and scouting staffs).

Due to the urgency and importance of this evaluation for the ‘Phins, we will be covering the college quarterback landscape throughout the 2019 season with weekly progress reports.

As always, Locked On Dolphins is your exclusive provider of analysis, commentary, and news on the Miami Dolphins.

Way Too Early 2019 QB Prospect Ranking

 

(Rank) Player School
(1) Jordan Love Utah State
(2) Tua Tagovailoa Alabama
(3) Jake Fromm Georgia
(4) Justin Herbert Oregon
(5) Khalil Tate Arizona
(6) D’Eriq King Houston
(7) K.J. Costello Stanford
(8) Jacob Eason Washington
(9) Brian Lewerke Michigan State
(10) Sam Ehlinger Texas

 

@WingfieldNFL

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Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Jordan Love

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report
Best of the Rest – Next Week

Foreword:

7,094 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

Today takes us to a Group 5 school to look at the physically imposing Jordan Love.

Jordan Love 2018 Film Study

Playing at a group-of-five school will limit the exposure of any player, but it has become impossible to gloss over Utah State’s Jordan Love. At 6-4, 220 pounds, Love has the ideal build and makeup for the position. Some would argue that there’s a distinct advantage to playing outside of the nation’s powerhouse programs. Playing with a smaller program comes with unavoidable adversity that builds character and prepares the player for the challenges at the next level.

Heading into his junior season Love will face tremendous turnover on the roster and coaching staff.

The Utah State football program is under construction. In addition to playing for his third offensive coordinator, Love’s head coach is new, his top three receivers graduated, and his favorite tight end was drafted in April. That tight end, Dax Raymond, has a strong affinity for his former teammate.

“Anyone that watches, they know he’s a gamer and that’s the biggest thing I want in a quarterback personally,” Raymond said. “You sense the passion. He’s not out there just to throw the ball a couple of times, he’s out there to win.”

Love’s most recent OC and play caller, David Yost, slotted Love among the best quarterbacks he’s coached. “He’s right among them,” Yost said. “If he continues to progress with his skill set and his ability, he’s an NFL-level type quarterback as we go forward. That’s the expectation.”

That crop of quarterbacks includes Blaine Gabbert and Chase Daniel. All five of Yost’s QBs from his 12-year tenure at Missouri went on to play QB in the NFL.

When you see the traits — the perfect meld of school yard style honed in by prowess within the structure — you’ll see why Yost thought so highly of his former pupil.

Let’s get to the tape.

What Sets Love Apart:

Natural Thrower from Any Platform –

Some quarterbacks excel at drive throws and some are better at finessing the football. Some QBs are strictly confined to throwing from a clean pocket while others prefer getting on the move. Jordan Love is impervious to sacrificing accuracy under each of these circumstances. His arm has the natural elasticity to whip the football on-point from a variety of platforms and pass types.

Love has the shortstop trait that allows him to deliver accurate passes regardless of the arm-angle. Over the top, from the side, opening the gait on the move, it’s all the same to Love.

Quick Processing –

The majority of the video clips I made came from the season-opening game. Working under a brand new offensive system, Love showcased the ability to decipher coverage post-snap and beat the defense before it could rotate to plug windows.

Athleticism, Designed Runs and Goal Line Running Threat –

When the quarterback is a threat to run the football it puts another element in the mind of the defense. Love is just as big of a threat to sledgehammer the ball across the goal line — or in short-yardage — as and tailback or fullback. His big frame and aggressive style makes him a difficult tackle for any defensive back and plenty of linebackers.

Designed runs typically signal that the quarterback is adept at creating play off-script, and Love is no exception. He’s able to erase free rushers and create openings for his receivers down field as he surveys the coverage while attacking the line-of-scrimmage.

Focused Areas of Improvement:

Staying with the Play –

This is nitpicking, I want to acknowledge that. At times, Love will drift away from pressure rather than search for available escape routes. He tends to fall backwards hoping for something to uncover before he takes a sack and throws the ball away.

Of the four quarterbacks I watched, I had the toughest time finding areas of weakness in Love’s game.

Potential Fit with the Miami Dolphins:

We checked the leadership and character boxes in the initial category and we know Love is an accurate thrower. The one trait that Brian Flores and Chris Grier have mentioned this offseason that we haven’t covered with the other quarterbacks is athleticism and mobility. Justin Herbert has it, but Jordan Love is on another level.

For a team that wants to establish its identity as a tough, physical team, Jordan Love makes perfect sense. His presence can immensely upgrade the running game and force the defense to defend the entire field against both run and pass plays.

Conclusion:

Love vaulted to the top of my list of wants next offseason. I’m a sucker for the elite athletic traits and the big arm. If those inherent skills are married with a requisite level of processing, then that’s how superstars are born.

It’ll be a tall task for Love to supplant Tagovailoa, Fromm, and Herbert atop the QB prospect rankings list with a difficult set of circumstances at Utah State. Regardless, isolating the player for his traits and upside, no player in this class has more of the former than Jordan Love.

@WingfieldNFL

Up Next: Best of the Rest (Eason, King, Tate Ehlinger, Costello, Lewerke)

Additional Videos

No-look pass?

Easy transition from on-the-move to getting the ball up and out.

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Scouting Reports

Face of the Franchise Series: Justin Herbert

Travis Wingfield

Published

on

Two decades removed from his retirement, the Miami Dolphins are still in-search of Dan Marino’s replacement

Tua Tagovailoa Scouting Report
Jake Fromm Scouting Report
Justin Herbert Scouting Report
Jordan Love Scouting Report
Best of the Rest – Next Week

Foreword:

7,093 days, 308 games. That arduous, ceaseless waiting period spans the time from Dan Marino’s last buckle of the chin strap, to present day. The Packers and Colts were fortunate enough to hand the ball from one legend to another without skipping a beat. For Dolphins fans, Marino’s retirement coincides not only with the turn of the century, but with the downturn of the once winningest franchise in professional sports.

Chad Pennington’s 2008 MVP runner-up season sits a mere blip on the radar of futility. Ryan Tannehill teased fans for five years before an injury brought all hope to a fiery end. Daunte Culpepper was the worst consolation prize ever contrived and John Beck, Chad Henne, and Pat White each qualify as second-round busts.

The misery feels perpetual yet, somehow, not defeating. At least the Dolphins got the bat off the shoulder this offseason by taking a crack at Josh Rosen, but his rookie tape leaves plenty to be desired. A first-round signal-caller is the odds-on-favorite for Miami in next April’s draft; a class brimming with quarterback talent.

If patience truly is a virtue, then Dolphins fans have waited long enough. The collective has earned the right to unanimously appoint the next hero of professional football in South Florida. No more arguments, no more debates; just an unequivocal beast of a quarterback capable of willing the aqua and orange to victory on any given Sunday.

The same way #13 did for so many years.

Over the summer we will look at the top quarterback prospects entering the 2019 college football season.

Today brings us out to the Pacific Northwest and Oregon’s physical phenom, Justin Herbert.

2018 Justin Herbert Film Study

Thought by many to be a curious decision, Justin Herbert opted to return to the University of Oregon for his senior season. Had he declared, the 6-foot-6, 233-pound signal caller very well could’ve been the second quarterback off the board in a weak draft class. Now, Herbert will be available in next April’s draft, but faces much stiffer competition.

Herbert’s production regressed significantly in his junior season. After starting eight games each in back-to-back years (freshman and sophomore seasons), Herbert finally played wire-to-wire in 2018. His first full season saw a drop in completion percentage below 60% (59.4), his yard-per-attempt from 9.6 down to 7.8, and his is passer rating was the lowest of his three-year career.

“[I’m looking for a guy] that’s going rally everybody on this team,” former Ducks Head Coach Willie Taggart said of his quarterback competition prior to the 2017 season. “When we find that guy, that’s when we’re going to name a starter.

Herbert is said to be a quiet, reserved presence in the Oregon football program. Taking is a step further, Bleacher ReportsMatt Miller conveyed a report from an NFL scout who described Herbert as ‘aloof,’ and ‘soft.’

These reports should not be taken as gospel. Leaks and second-hand information have a way of materializing into false narratives. It’s all a part of the grand puzzle, and while there’s typically fire where there’s smoke, Herbert has one more season to change the perception of his character among the NFL community.

That’s not what has people raving about his professional prospect any way. It’s the raw package that Herbert offers as a passer, runner, and dual-threat quarterback. Let’s get to the film.

What Sets Herbert Apart:

Velocity –

If the only metric to consider were physical traits, Herbert would be the unanimous number-one quarterback in the 2019 draft class. No quarterback in college football can drive the ball down the seam, to the field, or into tight windows like Herbert.

Stationary, or on the move, Herbert can rip the football. Within the structure of the offense, he incorporates his lower half and drives the football on-point. When on the move, he’s naturally fluid enough to open his gait and get his hips and shoulders through the zone simultaneously.

These traits are especially helpful on stick throws, slants, and threading the middle portion of the field against cover-2.

Athleticism and Off-Script Ability –

The Oregon offense has been predicated on athletic quarterbacks for some time and Herbert is no exception to that rule. The run-pass-option is prevalent as Herbert can pick up chunks on designed runs, or when the play breaks down and he’s forced off-script.

Herbert’s pass protection had its leaky moments as he was often forced off of his spot and put into a position where he had to play hero ball. In the PAC-12, Herbert was more than capable as he often broke the pocket and made plays with both his legs and his arm.

Focused Areas of Improvement:

Pre-Determined Mindset –

Perhaps its systemic of supremely gifted quarterbacks, but the majority of said-physical marvels struggle with the cerebral portion of the game; Herbert isn’t any different. On multiple occasions, it would appear that Herbert has made his decision where the football is going pre-snap without any regard for the coverage the defense shows.

This flaw is a result of both pre-and-post-snap shortcomings as it pertains to deciphering coverage and rotation. As things evolve from the time the huddle is broken to the end of the play, Herbert often stares down his initial read and forces the ball in regardless of the defense.

Herbert’s decision to return to school could pay dividends. He needs to iron out this issues during his senior season if he wants to go off the board in the first round. To the perimeter, inside, against man or zone, it doesn’t matter — Herbert’s struggles are between the ears.

Touch Passing –

Dolphins fans saw it time-and-time again with Ryan Tannehill, the strong-armed quarterbacks tend to struggle with changing the pace of their throwing tempo. Slowing down the arm speed requires a more natural feel for aiming the football, and Herbert consistently demonstrates an inability to execute these throws.

Seeing Phantom Pressure –

Inconsistent mechanics, as a result of pressure, and dropping his eyes to anticipate pressure, forces Herbert to miss opportunities against the blitz. Often times, Herbert put his body in position to protect himself from an imminent hit opposed to standing in and delivering the football.

The Washington State game was an example of Herbert succumbing to a superb pass rush and allowing the constant pressure to change his game.

Potential Fit with the Miami Dolphins:

It’s difficult to imagine the Dolphins wanting to take this path again. The similarities to Ryan Tannehill are vast in the way he can do everything from a physical standpoint, but the mental development has a long way to go. Through seven years, it never materialized with Tannehill. Spending a first round pick on a project quarterback is a risky move for a General Manager that has to nail his next first round QB selection.

From a schematic standpoint, the fit isn’t there. Herbert’s specialties are in winning with physical gifts, taking advantage of perfect circumstances within the structure of the offense, and also beating teams off-script.

If we are to assume that Miami wants to replicate a system similar to the one ran in New England, it requires more of a point guard mentality. A point-man that can discern the defense pre-snap, and distribute the ball accordingly post-snap.

Conclusion:

If — and it’s a big if — the reports of Herbert’s character shortfalls are true, he won’t even make it onto Miami’s draft board next April. For the same reasons we speculate that Miami will love Jake Fromm, they’ll shy away from Herbert as leadership and connecting with his teammates are integral parts of the new program.

On top of the locker room and leadership principles, Herbert’s apparent lack of preparation (or failures to effectively prepare) removes him entirely from the list of options in the event that Josh Rosen doesn’t prove to be the answer in Miami.

@WingfieldNFL

Up Next: Jordan Love

Additional Videos

An under-thrown touch pass down the seam.

Impacted mechanics from pressure.

Poor location, with no regard for the defensive leverage, on a downfield throw.

 

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