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Miami Dolphins

So You Want A Franchise QB?

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

So you’ve come to the conclusion that this is the time to invest in a franchise quarterback.

Maybe you realized this 5 years ago, after having given up on Ryan Tannehill a few mediocre years into Joe Philbin‘s tenure.

Maybe you rode the Tannehill train for the past 7 years, only to come to the conclusion that you can’t go around the uncertain merry-go-round again.

Maybe you’re one of those critics that believe a football team should draft a quarterback every year until they get it right.

You may have started down a different path, but you joined together with plenty of other Dolphins fans and have become unified in the notion that the Miami Dolphins need a new quarterback.

So what does this mean for your beloved Miami Dolphins? A lot, actually. Everyone likes to fantasize over the latest draft possibilities at quarterback each season; it’s how we trick ourselves into thinking Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert are better than J.J. Watt.

In fact, look at the next four players drafted after Ryan Tannehill (who was 8th-overall in the 2012 NFL Draft):

Pick 9: Luke Kuechly (CAR)
10: Stephon Gilmore (BUF)
11: Dontari Poe (KC)
12: Fletcher Cox (PHI)

All of those players have gone to the Pro Bowl and are viewed as top players at their respective positions.

This isn’t to say that Tannehill was the wrong choice. Miami needed a quarterback and it’s fair to conclude that they weren’t going to select Russell Wilson in the 3rd-round. But this is just one example among many of how a quarterback is taken prior to better football players.

Let me get this out of the way up front. I like Ryan Tannehill as a quarterback and believe he received an untimely mix of poor coaching and poor offensive line play. Matt Ryan wouldn’t have succeeded in this environment and neither would Wilson. I don’t think it’s fair to take a different quarterback (that isn’t a Hall of Fame quarterback), insert them into Miami, and conclude that the team would have performed better. Look at what Jeff Fisher did to Jared Goff in one season with the St. Louis Rams. You don’t think Philbin had a big part in Tannehill’s (lack of) development early on? Insert the best coach/offensive coordinator Tannehill has had in his career and he has his best season cut short by an injury. It’s no coincidence Adam Gase was able to turn Tannehill into a legitimate franchise quarterback.

It’s just unfortunate that we might never really know how successful Tannehill would have been in Miami if he had a better situation around him. You want a hot take? I think Ryan Tannehill will win a playoff game for another team, and it’s going to be a smack in the face.

But it’s also fair to to want a quarterback that is going to bring you certainty and not anxiety.

And that’s where we have to be careful with what you wish for.

Ryan Tannehill isn’t the reason this team wasn’t successful. This was a collective failure by the Miami Dolphins – a continuation of the mediocre ways they’ve developed this 21st century. Getting rid of Ryan Tannehill doesn’t solve your problem. In fact, it magnifies it greatly.

Unless your solution is to obtain Teddy Bridgewater (a player who had a worse knee injury and has seen less game-action than Tannehill has), or obtain a freshly-cut Eli Manning at season’s end (which, lets be honest, is extremely likely from the New York Giants‘ perspective), then you’re best avenue is to draft a quarterback. And for everyone’s sake, lets stop going with the retreads and start building a team.

Risk of Paying for a Prospect

This is the biggest push back fans make for trading up. It’s too risky.

Those with common sense realized that the Miami Dolphins were not going to finish in the top-10 of the 2019 NFL draft. They are too talented of a team (even without Tannehill) to go 5-11. And, given their current status, they’re not about lose 8 of the next 10 games, so it’s safe to say that the Dolphins are going to have to give up a lot of draft capital to obtain the guy they want.

I’m not content with “waiting” for a quarterback to fall. Miami hasn’t gotten lucky since Dan Marino wore #13, so I’m not hedging my bets that Aaron Rodgers falls to them in the late-teens/early-20s in the draft. Nor do I believe they’ll be able to identify a 1st-round talent like Russell Wilson in the 3rd-round.

This is the riskiest part of your decision. Are you willing to risk the next 4-5 years on a quarterback that might force you to do this same exercise all over again?

Keeping it easy, lets say Miami will have to give up (at least) 3 1st-round draft picks and 2 2nd-round draft picks to move to the top-3 spots of the draft. If you get this quarterback selection wrong, you’ve now eliminated 5 potentially productive players from your roster. As Dolphins fans, we know these draft picks don’t always pan out as such, but taking away 5 starting players on rookie contracts is a lot to overcompensate for.

With that said, does anyone remember what the Philadelphia Eagles gave up to get Carson Wentz? Anyone remember what the New York Giants gave up for Eli Manning? If you get the pick right, all future assets are instantly forgotten.

Draft picks replenish annually. Miami can give up their 2019 and 2020 1st-round draft picks and by the time the Dolphins have figured out if their fresh new quarterback is the answer or not, they’ll have their 2021 and 2022 1st-round draft picks waiting for them, ready to be used in another blockbuster trade.

The fear is that getting this selection wrong means you’ve now set your franchise back for the unforeseeable future. Miami has avoided this risk and look what they’ve accomplished over the last 15 years. How much worse can a regrettable draft trade be than the current trend this team is on?

Benefit of a Young Quarterback

This is where you analyze how important a quarterback on a rookie contract is.

Carson Wentz brought the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Aaron Rodgers won a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Russell Wilson won a Super Bowl and went to another Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Ben Roethlisburger won a Super Bowl on a rookie deal.
Eli Manning won his first Super Bowl on a rookie deal.

How else do all of those teams end up with such dominant defenses? Mark Sanchez went to back-to-back AFC Championship games because he cost nothing compared to the offensive and defensive talent they were able to build around him. That was a product of Mike Tannenbaum, and he followed the blueprint each other team above followed. Young quarterback mixed with a dominant (and expensive) team.

Of all the teams that have gone to the Super Bowl in the last 6 years, only three quarterbacks weren’t on rookie contracts: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan. One of those quarterbacks accepts abundantly less than what he deserves to make (allowing his team to reap the benefits of the additional salary cap space) and the other happens to be a legitimate exception to the rule (Ryan). Manning only made $17.5m the years he took the Denver Broncos to the Superbowl – which is still pretty low for a quarterback that’s discussed in the “greatest of all time” conversation.

The NFL runs on its quarterbacks, but Super Bowl success is reliant upon a dominant team, not a specific individual. The Eagles won last year’s Super Bowl because their team (and Fletcher Cox) was dominant, not because Nick Foles was their quarterback.

Having a quarterback on a rookie contract allows you to obtain the other assets necessary to build a championship-caliber team. The Dolphins aren’t going to be able to lock up Xavien Howard, Minkah FitzpatrickDavon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Jakeem Grant and Jerome Baker if they’re too busy spending $20m on a quarterback.

What This Means for Your Roster

If you’re planning on drafting a quarterback next year, then say goodbye to most of your favorite players. Even if they do get the pick right, and they have a franchise quarterback, it’s going to take some time before everything gets turned around (not like anyone would complain with the ‘franchise QB for veteran talent’ trade off). The quickest turnarounds the NFL has seen come in Year 2. The Los Angeles Rams with Jared Goff and the Eagles with Carson Wentz are the latest examples of this. Big Ben won a Super Bowl in Year 2. Russell Wilson won his in Year 2. Even our own Dan Marino made it to a Super Bowl in Year 2.

But you need a Super Bowl-caliber team around them to accomplish that, and it’s hard to say Miami has that right now. They’re a young team, but they aren’t dominant (yet).

Cameron Wake? Won’t be part of the turnaround
Reshad Jones? Won’t be around

In fact, it’s probably easier to list who will be around if Miami selects a quarterback in the 2019 NFL draft – figuring the team will see the full turnaround in 2020-2021:

Laremy Tunsil: Most likely, but you’re paying him to be a top-3 LT in this league
Kalen Ballage: By default, rookie deal
Jakeem Grant: If the team extends him and he develops hands softer than stone
Albert Wilson: If he’s still the multiple-trick pony he currently is
Kenny Stills: A speed receiver that’ll be close to 30; unlikely to be around
Charles Harris: If the Dolphins exercise his 5th-year option; currently unlikely
Davon Godchaux and/or Vincent Taylor: Do you have the money to extend both or are you just picking one?
Xavien Howard: Did you pay him?
Minkah Fitzpatrick: By default, rookie deal
Raekwon McMillan: Did Miami extend him?
Jerome Baker: By default, rookie deal
Mike Gesicki: By default, rookie deal
Bobby McCain: it’s likely he’s still around and on his current contract
John Denney: he’s immortal

Assuming all of the above players are kept (they won’t be), and taking John Denney’s immortality out, that’s 13 players out of a possible 52-man roster that remain from the currently constructed Dolphins squad; and 4 of them will still be on your team because they’re on their rookie deals.

Again, if you guaranteed me that Miami would find a franchise quarterback for the next 10 years at the expense of the current roster, I’d probably sign up for it every time.

If you thought the 2018 draft speculation was intense for Miami, just wait and see what the 2019 draft will bring. This topic is going to float around a lot, and we’re not going to get a clear-cut answer until the Dolphins make their selection next April. Until that selection is made, keep in mind all of the various aspects that go into this decision. It’s easy to say “give me a quarterback”, but the repercussions are vast and last for years.

This decision won’t come down to “if” Miami will take the risk; they’re going to. We just have to hope that they made the right selection. Otherwise, expect to see this post pop up again in 2021 – except with a bunch of different names (and John Denney).

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

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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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Miami Dolphins

5 Developments That Would Signal a Successful 2019 Dolphins Season

Travis Wingfield

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In a bottom-line business, the Dolphins can find success elsewhere in 2019

Any coach, player, or essential personnel attached to the 2019 operation of the Miami Dolphins would immediately dispel the notion of this article. While the mindset is imperative for each of the 32 organizations in the NFL to enter a new season with championship aspirations, the truth tells us that, that is simply not realistic.

The Dolphins — like it or not — fall into the category of teams building for future success.

Since Stephen Ross’ Black Monday presser — held with the purpose of conveying sweeping organizational changes — the mantra of the 10th administration in franchise history has been the same — ‘we are only worried about today.’ Ross’ opening statements contradicted that idea, just as Miami’s offseason maneuvers have suggested something of a transitional year.

A reset. A step back. A “change from the way we’ve done things previously,” as Mr. Ross stated at that presser, was a necessary evil on the track to, “building a consistent team with sustained success.”

Any NFL team, regardless of its standing on the superiority hierarchy, will dispel any talk of Super Bowl dreams during the summer. But for the 2019 Miami Dolphins winning games is not the end-all-be-all.

Operating under protection from the end results the typical importance of the only numbers that ultimately matter — victories and defeats — Brian Flores and staff can focus on the true exigency of the 2019 season; the development of his program and young players.

Last year I wrote about the 25 most integral players to the 2018 Miami Dolphins success. In year-three, with an experienced quarterback and significant investment in veteran contracts, the only option for Adam Gase and company was to win football games.

Now, the focus takes a hard left turn. We hone in on the particular units, identity development, and most crucial aspects that must occur in 2019 to set Coach Flores up for success in the win-loss column in 2020 and beyond.

1. Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker Assert Their Standing

Linebackers are falling out of favor in many-an-NFL-defense, but not in this one. Versatile ‘backers helped drive Brian Flores’ defense to back-to-back championship caliber performances in the season’s two biggest games in 2018 (Super Bowl and AFCCG).

McMillan was one of Pro Football Focus’ highest graded run-defenders from October on last year while Jerome Baker flashed the pass rush skill set, speed, and coverage dynamics that helped him earn significant playing time as a rookie.

The Dont’a Hightower role — working both inside and on the ball as a rusher off the edge — has been imparted on McMillan. Baker, McMillan’s former Buckeye teammate, figures into a prominent rush role with the occasional buzz to the flat.

The Dolphins have club control on McMillan for the next two years with Baker under contract for the next three. Both have been lauded for their leadership and quick acclimation to the new scheme and program.

Anchoring the middle of the defense with 23 (McMillan) and 22-year-old (Baker) linebackers would be a sterling beginning to the construction of a championship stop-unit.

2. Discovering a Viable Counterpart to Xavien Howard

One of the many faulty pillars of the Mike Tannenbaum regime was poor financial structuring of the roster, i.e. paying exponentially above market value both starting safeties, and continually pumping financial resources into a middling pass rush.

Aug 17, 2018; Charlotte, NC, USA; Miami Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer (24) brings down Carolina Panthers running back C.J. Anderson (20) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

With Xavien Howard taken care of on one corner, the Dolphins can offset his cost by uncovering a viable second perimeter starter on a cheap contract. Eric Rowe gets first crack, but a clean bill of health and quality play likely earns him a big offseason paycheck — he’s signed on the cheap through 2019.

The other, more prudent options are homegrown talents. Cordrea Tankersley entered camp in 2018 with well-earned buzz, but has had the worst imaginable ensuing 11-month stretch since that time. He’s a candidate to start the year on P.U.P (which carries a distinction to return post-week-six).

Torry McTyer is on year-three of his rookie contract from 2017 and has the most playing time to his credit. Last season was a struggle for McTyer after a strong camp earned the UDFA a spot on the depth chart.

Cornell Armstrong and Jalen Davis flashed glimpses during their rookie seasons. Armstrong more so on special teams and Davis primarily in the slot.

Former Patriots practice squad member Jomal Wiltz and undrafted rookie Nik Needham have head their names called during offseason minicamps.

Pairing Howard with a rookie contract, while the team absorbs the immediate, steep costs #25’s new deal would be a massive boon heading into 2020.

3. An Unquestioned Star Skill Player Emerges

The last time the Dolphins featured an offensive threat that forced defensive coordinators to alter their game plan was Ricky Williams nearly two decades ago. The Dolphins need that spark to resurrect an offense that has been bottom-of-the-barrel for just as long.

Kenyan Drake is the favorite. His five-week slate of production to close 2017 is exactly what we’re looking for here. His versatile, game-breaking skill set could develop if he’s finally given the lion’s share of the workload.

Albert Wilson strung together a dominant stretch for two weeks last season before a serious hip injury stopped his breakout campaign short. Jakeem Grant flashes big-play ability regularly, but he’s yet to prove that he’s a permanent fixture as a wide receiver.

The dark horse option might be Tight End Mike Gesicki. His rookie tape is a difficult watch, but his Penn State cut-ups suggest that something is there — particularly in the red zone.

4. Two More Solutions on the Offensive Line Emerge

At press time the Dolphins have Laremy Tunsil and four question marks on the offensive line. Michael Deiter comes in with expectations, but a rookie third-round pick is hardly a slam dunk to provide a solution at a position that has been a problem for a decade-plus.

Daniel Kilgore is back after a season-ending injury. His three showing prior to the injury left plenty to be desired, however. Chris Reed is a career backup that figures into the starting right guard position while Jesse Davis returns to right tackle (he played sparingly at the position in 2017).

Truthfully, if one of these players emerges to form 40% of a competent offensive line, that should be considered a victory. If the Dolphins, however, find two solutions on the offensive front, that fits right in line with the rest of the league at a position starving for talent.

5. A Definitive Answer on Josh Rosen

It’s safe to say most who read this article expected this to come in at number one. Rosen’s evaluation checks in at number five for two reasons:

1.) The 2020 QB class is loaded.
2.) The evaluation doesn’t have to find a conclusion this season.

May 21, 2019; Davie, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen (3) during organized team activities at Baptist Health Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks are unique from every other position on the field. Entrusted faces of the franchise, long-term solutions, these are labels that each fan base without the elusive franchise savior craves to slap on a young signal-caller.

While the argument that, without a quarterback you’re merely treading water is valid, it doesn’t always happen overnight. Russell Wilson spearheads a group of franchise quarterbacks that were discovered in unconventional forms (Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garappolo).

Even if Josh Rosen strikes out in 2019, and he’s greeted by stiff competition next year, that doesn’t necessarily equal the end of the road for the embattled passer. He’s under club control for three seasons, and not only is he under market-value for starting QBs, he’s cheaper than the league’s most-valued backups.

While it might not be preferable for the self-proclaimed Josh Rosen ‘Stans’, a QB depth chart that features Rosen, Fitzpatrick, and one of the prized first-round options in next year’s draft would put the Dolphins in terrific position to identify the long-term solution.

Should the Dolphins find resolutions to three or more of these critical areas of development in 2019 the season should be considered a success. The omissions of pass rusher and Minkah Fitzpatrick taking the next step towards superstardom were considered.

The reason for the pass rush omission is twofold. First, next year’s class has some elite, top-shelf talent, including a player that is a picture-perfect scheme fit (Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa). Second, the individual pass rush prowess simply isn’t a priority in this scheme.

For Fitzpatrick, there should be little doubt about his development. He’s a special player that will not come up short in his purist of becoming a household name in the league.

Of course, the Dolphins could send a massive middle finger to the entire premise of this article, and the entirety of the national media that is forecasting a rough, transitional season for Flores’ football team.

In that instance, it would probably be safe to assume that more than half of this checklist were satisfied.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Locked On Dolphins staff’s favorite current Fins player

Shawn Digity

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USA Today Sports Miami Dolphins Minkah Fitzpatrick
Minkah Fitzpatrick exiting the tunnel. Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Let’s try something a little different on this midsummer Friday. It’s always dead around this time of the year, so in a fun way to get amped up for the coming season, the LOD staff presents their favorite current Miami Dolphin and why. So without further ado, check out the team’s favorite Fins.

Jason Hrina – Kenny Stills

I’m going to preface all of this by saying this has nothing to do with his political standing. There is nothing I despise more than politics and everything it entails.

That said, Kenny Stills is one of the most selfless individuals the Miami Dolphins have ever had the luxury of calling one of their own. The amount of time and effort he puts towards people in less-fortunate situations is really something we should all strive to be like. Maybe it’s his paycheck or his platform as a recognizable figure that allows him to do all of this, but he isn’t required to go out of his way for anyone.

It’s the same reason why I was always a fan of former Phins Michael Thomas and Frank Gore. Their dedication to the South Florida community and those around the world have always stuck with me. I can see Christian Wilkins being the next Dolphins player to exude such selfless behavior; I mean, he already does! It’s only going to grow from here.

While Stills may not put up the most-gaudy numbers, nor is he a national figurehead like Jarvis Landry used to be, his charity, selflessness and ability to disregard his celebrity status for the benefit of others has always made me a huge fan of Kenny Stills.

Andrew Mitchell- Albert Wilson

My favorite current player, amongst so many options, is Albert Wilson. There’s so many guys I like; Tunsil, Howard, Drake, Minkah, Bobby McCain, and Kenny Stills to name a few.

However, Albert Wilson hails from where I was raised, Port St. Lucie, Florida. He balled out at one of my high school’s rival teams, Port St. Lucie High. Wilson would dominate as a running back/quarterback hybrid and then go onto college and make his way onto the Kansas City Chiefs roster. 

Before his injury last season, he was arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL! His insane quickness and pure speed help him create separation from defenders. Pair that up with his ability and ability to make defenders miss and you have a dangerous weapon when in open space. 

My local area has produced talents like Kevin Smith (Detroit RB), Jamar Chaney (Eagles LB), Khalil Mack (Bears DE) and of course Wilson. While Mack is the biggest known name, if Wilson stays healthy all season he could 100% contend for that title! 

Gabe Hauari – Christian Wilkins

When you start your NFL career by chest bumping Rodger Goodell at the draft, you immediately become my new favorite player. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
In all seriousness, Wilkins appears to have an infectious personality mixed with some dominant tape in college.
If he can live up to his draft billing with Miami, I think the new regime got a perfect player from both a culture and football perspective.

Chris Kowalewski – Kenyan Drake

Whether as a result of conflicts with coaching staff (Jay Ajayi, Jarvis Landry), money issues (Ndamukong Suh) or not factoring into the franchise’s future plans (Ryan Tannehill, Cameron Wake) the past couple of seasons have seen the exodus of a number of Miami’s most popular and talented players. It’s almost at that point where I’m afraid to buy any more Dolphins jerseys because I don’t want to curse anyone else on the team – a throwback Reshad Jones jersey hangs precariously in my cupboard as the final current one.

Kenyan Drake is safe for now, as I’ll leave his jersey in stores and (together with countless other fans) be eternally grateful for his electric on-field play in the ‘Miami Miracle’. There’s plenty to like about Drake and he has a humble nature which encourages you to root for him. He didn’t complain (at least not publicly) when the Dolphins brought in Frank Gore and openly embraced the opportunity to learn from a future HOF’er.

Kenyan was on Good Morning Football about a month ago dissecting the Miami Miracle and the first thing he spoke about was the team effort which the play required, heaping praise on Ted Larsen for his key block which allowed room to make the highlight score.

I think it’s very indicative of the franchise’s view of Kenyan that Tom Garfinkel and Stephen Ross collaborated to pay for the return of the Miami Miracle ball and gave it to him as a present. However, although hugely appreciative to see its return, Drake maintained that the play was a team accomplishment and, as such, its rightful place remained at Hard Rock Stadium.

A threat to score any time he touches the ball, Drake is bottled lightning and fans everywhere should be clamouring to see more of him on the field. A quiet warrior, in the same image as Cameron Wake (another all-time favourite) he’s the lead-by-example type of player who you can’t help but want to see succeed.

Kevin Dern – Laremy Tunsil

As I’ve gotten older, which has coincidentally progressed along with more dynamic free agency rules, it’s been harder and harder for me to become attached to players like Dan Marino, JT, Zach Thomas, Sam Madison, and Pat Surtain.  That being said, I do have a favorite current Dolphin, Laremy Tunsil.
I may be a bit biased towards left tackles – I worked for two years for Anthony Munoz (the best LT and best offensive lineman in history) – and have an extra appreciation for what the position entails.  Tunsil’s footwork and movement skills are superb; his punch is excellent and he’s improving rapidly in the ground game.  If he produces consecutive years like he did last year, I’m not sure who you can honestly say is a better left tackle in the NFL at that point.  He’s a cornerstone for this franchise and should be paid as such.
My favorite Dolphin is likely a very unique choice: Ryan Fitzpatrick. He hasn’t even taken an official snap for the team, but I was all about his signing a few months ago. Quarterback is my favorite position, so it starts there.

FitzMagic is just a colorful one-of-a-kind character that I would love to meet one day. He’s been an NFL journeyman so his career is unorthodox, but he has made his hay on the zeniths of a crazy roller coaster ride, and I’ve enjoyed the chaos of it all.

I went and bought a FitzMagic x Miami Dolphins shirt almost as soon as the Dolphins signed him. I’m all-in on the Fitzpatrick experience for 2019. And I’ll especially enjoy any of the locker room antics like last year in Tampa Bay when he hijacked DeSean Jackson’s wardrobe and wore it out to the media presser and uttered the quoteworthy “We just gotta stay humble”. Classic Fitzpatrick.

I’m looking forward to his on-field wackiness and his off-field bravado.

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