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Miami Dolphins

Tank Tracker Vol. 1: Miami Dolphins lose 2nd game, Minkah traded

Shawn Digity

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Miami Dolphins Minkah Fitzpatrick
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

Tanking can be hard. It can be even harder to keep up with all the movers and shakers that go with it. Tank Tracker is here to keep you updated with all the newest headlines as it pertains to the Miami Dolphins tank as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Let’s get things kicked off with Volume 1.

In like a lion, out like a lion too

The Patriots came to town in Week 2, and it went almost exactly as I had envisioned. The final score was 43-0 and sent the Miami Dolphins tumbling to 0-2 on the year, so far. I cannot say I was surprised and I’m sure many fans also saw this coming.

For a deep dive into the playing percentage and postgame analysis, check out Travis Wingfield’s breakdown of the game and see where things went wrong for the Miami Dolphins second game.

The Fins are 0-2. That makes them one step closer to the first overall pick, but they are not currently projected to land the number one pick, according to Tankathon. They have the third pick as it stands. There is still a lot of tanking yet to take place, but the corresponding mock with Tankathon’s order shows the difference in those two picks and why the first pick is necessary for the Miami Dolphins to optimize this year’s plan.

 Steel City Minkah

After rumblings surfaced of players wanting to get out of Miami, Minkah Fitzpatrick made a trade request. He was granted his wish on Monday night and traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were numerous reports of several interested teams from the Seahawks to the Chiefs to the Cowboys to the Steelers.

A trade agreement was ultimately reached between the Steelers and the Miami Dolphins to send the second-year defensive back to Pittsburgh. The trade became a reality late on Monday night, as Adam Schefter broke the news.

So with any trade, there’s always the vested fans curious about the compensation. In this case, the Dolphins got the first-round pick from the Steelers, swapped their last 2020 fourth-rounder for the Steelers’ 2020 fifth-rounder, and exchanged their 2021 sixth-rounder for the Steelers’ 2021 seventh-rounder as confirmed by the Miami Dolphins on Twitter.

The Miami Dolphins’ total collection of 2020 first-rounders is up to three, and the pick from the Steelers is particularly interesting since Ben Roethlisberger had already announced his being out for the rest of 2019 with an elbow injury. That vaulted second-year QB out of Oklahoma State, Mason Rudolph, into the starter role, so the Steelers might struggle with his inexperience.

As mentioned above, the Miami Dolphins have three first-round picks now in the 2020 Draft, but it doesn’t stop there. They have the Saints second-rounder from the trade-back in the 2019 Draft, and they have two first-rounders in the 2021 Draft. It can be a whirlwind to keep up with all the picks that change hands, so here’s Locked on Dolphins’ pick tracker to keep a tally of which picks they’ll have in the future.

Sending out an SoS

Strength of schedule (abbreviated as SoS) is an essential component in determining the draft order, and it will likely be a vital factor for 2020 when the non-playoff teams are done for the season. Since there are 32 teams and 16 games per season, many organizations will end up sharing the same record. When that’s the case, the strength of schedule becomes the second tie-breaker in establishing the official draft order.

I mentioned in a tweet last week an eight-way tie between teams in the 2007 NFL Draft with the same overall record (all went 8-8). The strength of schedule then became the next determinant in deciding how those picks would fall. So, in extreme cases like this, SoS plays an indispensable role in the draft.

Picks 13-20 came to the SoS to create the correct order, and it was the difference in some teams, like the Giants, getting Aaron Ross at 20 and the Jets getting Darrelle Revis at 14. Only non-playoff teams factor into this since the playoff team draft order only updates, at most, four teams at a time and is based on who loses and who advances.

Strength of schedule’s historical importance doesn’t end there. In all the drafts leading back to the 2007 Draft ( I couldn’t find any more data on prior drafts), there were 17 occasions where SoS established the order for a three-way tie. It also was a utilized method for eight four-way ties, six five-way ties, one six-way tie, and three seven-way ties.

A congratulation would be in order if you made it through that last tongue twister of a paragraph. The point that I’m trying to drive home is that in addition to wanting the worst possible records from the Texans and Steelers, it is also crucial to whom they lose. You’ll want the losses to be to the bad teams, thus lowering the strength of their schedule.

In the past five drafts, out of 100 qualifying non-playoff teams, only 18 of the clubs shaping up the 1-20 order featured a unique overall record for that year, and eight of those were ties, which are difficult to replicate in a 16-game season. There’s already one tie this year, so that’ll throw a curveball at the draft order come next off-season.

Mock Draft

I’ll start introducing the mock drafts as the season goes on, the draft order updates and I get a better feel for the projected draft class. Creating a mock can be a fun way to kill five minutes or so, and it lets you play GM and build the future through the draft.

I’ve been using Fanspeak’s On the Clock mock simulator for several years, and I included a screenshot of just the first two rounds for now to illustrate the direction I think the Dolphins could go. I’ll expand into more rounds bit by bit once I start getting a little more college football under my belt this season.

There’s a free-to-use mode for Fanspeak’s simulator, but I’ll be experimenting with the Premium mode throughout the season, which generates trade packages and allows the user to put together trades, as well. For the first installment, however, I just kept it simple and did two rounds with the picks as is; here’s how the chips fell.

Tua was a no-brainer for me, so I declined trade offer packages from the Panthers and Chargers to maintain the first overall pick. Bryce Hall was the BPA for a position of need; I would’ve addressed the offensive line first, but I didn’t feel a lot of value there at that point. I double-dipped with the next two picks though and took Trey Adams and Creed Humphrey. And last but not least, Yetur Gross-Matos was a good find in the second at that point, so I snagged him.

Eyes on the Prize

There’s another slate of exciting college games this weekend. Below is a guide for Dolphins fans to keep tabs on some of the heavy-hitters that could be on the team next spring. The college games are noteworthy because of their quarterbacks (Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama, Justin Herbert from Oregon, Jake Fromm from Georgia, Jordan Love from Utah State. The NFL games have draft-pick implications.

Come Clarity

Chris Grier spoke at Tuesday’s press conference, and he offered some solace into the plan that Miami Dolphins had. He also mentioned how things changed with the Laremy Tunsil trade and how the plan had to be adapted. Many were at ease to hear from one of the two most prominent figures in the Dolphins’ rebuild and have him address the state of the team and the blockbuster trades.

A New Hope

That’s it for the first volume, and while there was a lot of information thrown out and a lot of losing likely right around the corner, brighter days will inevitably be upon us.

 

 

 

 

 

I am an Ohio University alum and I’ve been living in Pittsburgh for the last two years. I’ve been a Dolphins fan since I was a kid and I picked them because I liked the old-school logo. It grew from that as I got older and I luckily caught the tail end of Dan Marino’s career. It’s stuck ever since and now I’m an upstart, wild-and-free Dolphins beat writer, loving every second of it.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Papapickett

    September 18, 2019 at 10:32 pm

    Oooooh an In Flames reference. Wasnt expecting that here but I defintely enjoyed it. I love that song. It was my ringtone for years.

    • Avatar

      Papapickett

      September 18, 2019 at 10:34 pm

      Sending out an SOS. Was that the Police? Great song choices here lol.

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins Sign Tight End Michael Roberts

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins are beginning to bulk up the depth of their roster as they head into free agency.

According to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network, the Dolphins have signed tight end Michael Roberts. The exact terms of the contract are currently unknown.

Originally a 4th-round pick by the Detroit Lions, Roberts has served mostly as a backup tight end; accumulating 146 yards on 13 receptions in 23 active games between 2017-2018.

Roberts was placed on injured-reserve towards the end of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury, and was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional 2020 7th-round pick prior to the 2019 season. Due to medical reasons, the trade was voided a couple of days later.

The Green Bay Packers claimed Roberts off of waivers, but he was subsequently released by the Packers two days later for failing a physical. Roberts was not active for any games in 2019.

Signing Roberts doesn’t necessarily mean the Dolphins aren’t going to pursue tight ends in free agency or in the draft. Mike Gesicki is the only “lock” to make the 2020 roster, as Durham Smythe‘s blocking ability might not survive if the Dolphins find themselves in an advantageous situation at the position.

Look at this as a way for Miami to get ahead of evaluations.

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Miami Dolphins

A second Dolphins mock draft from someone who doesn’t watch football

Shawn Digity

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J.K. Dobbins 2020 NFL Draft
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports

(Locked On Dolphins) – Last week, Person A dazzled us with their blind mock draft, and now we’re back with the next entry in the series.

Person B is ready to go with their mock.

Keep in mind that all the blind mock draft contributors have little to no knowledge of the NFL.

I had all the contributors standardize their boards and the process so that everyone was on an even playing field.

They all used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator with seven rounds, the predictive board, and had to choose the players manually.

Without further ado, here’s Person B’s mock draft.

(1) 5. Tua Tagovailoa – QB, Alabama
(1) 18. J.K. Dobbins – RB, Ohio State
(1) 26. Terrell Lewis – Edge, Alabama
(2) 39. Lloyd Cushenberry III – iOL, LSU
(2) 56. Xavier McKinney – S, Alabama
(3) 70. Rashard Lawrence – iDL, LSU
(5) 135. Chase Claypool – WR, Notre Dame
(5) 144. Justin Herron – OT, Wake Forest
(5) 147. Terrell Burgess – S, Utah
(6) 165. Lamar Jackson – CB, Nebraska
(6) 177. Jacob Breeland – TE, Oregon
(7) 223. David Reese II – LB, Florida

As I did with Person A, I reached out to Person B to get their reasoning behind the selections.

Me: “I noticed that you took Tua [Tagovailoa]. What led you to that decision with the fifth pick?”

Person B: “I knew the Dolphins wanted to get a QB, and Tua has been talked about so much that I just went with him.”

Me: “Which of your other selections did you feel particularly good about?”

Person B: “I need you to send me the link to my draft. I forgot who I picked since it took five attempts.”

[resends mock draft to Person B]

“I like my J.K. Dobbins pick. O-H-. And Rashard Lawrence. Because I figure he’s pretty good since LSU was really good this year.”

Me: “Your picks are really good. I’d put yours ahead of Person A. But it’s almost suspiciously good. Did you put your thumb on the scale somewhere along the line?”

Person B: “Well, by my 5th attempt (1 and 2: I didn’t select manual mode, 3: I didn’t pick 7 rounds from the drop-down menu, 4: I completed, but the site froze, and I lost everything), I figured out that I should probably pick from the top of the list first because if you don’t then those players just go like hotcakes.

So, I just matched up the positions the Dolphins needed to fill with the players highest on the list, and if I recognized a name or team, I would select them over someone I had never heard of.”

Me: “OK, well, we’re all out of time. Do you have any parting messages for Dolphins fans?”

Person B: “Well, I think the Dolphins are on the right track, and I hope that all of the true blue fans who have hung in with them for all these years will get to see another Super Bowl in the near future. GO FINS!”

And that wraps things up with Person B.

What are your thoughts on Person B’s mock draft? Leave a comment or tweet your thoughts at me directly on Twitter (@DIGITYnodoubt).

Tune in next time for Person C’s mock…

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Miami Dolphins

Top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019

Jason Hrina

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Image Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins weren’t supposed to be a productive team in 2019.

A team meant to lose every game somehow ended up with a 5-11 record; simultaneously sabotaging their draft status and leaving us with a promising future at the same time.

Brian Flores, the former scout, scoured the transaction wire every day in an attempt to uncover potential “acorns” – as one former general manager infamously put it. And with a keen eye for development, his constant shuffling and retooling paid off for him.

You might think a 5-11 team wouldn’t have too many options for a Top 5 list, but the Dolphins were littered with productive “surprises”. Most have promising futures, while some have already solidified themselves as perennial starters.

Take a look at our top 5 Miami Dolphins of 2019 down below. If you’d like to see who made our list of top 5 most disappointing players of 2019, click here.

5) Davon Godchaux

After two elite seasons, we’ve come to expect nothing less out of Davon Godchaux.

Starting 16 games for the second year in a row, Godchaux has continued to ascend as one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. If the Dolphins weren’t so busy staying out of the lime light, Godchaux would be a household name across the nation.

His 52 solo tackles were tied for the most in the NFL among interior defensive linemen. His 2 sacks, 75 total tackles and 7 QB hits are all improvements over his 2018 campaign, which already had fans clamoring to extend the young, former 5th-round pick.

Though some might point to Miami’s overall defensive rushing numbers as a sign that Godchaux (and Christian Wilkins) weren’t good at their jobs, that’s wildly misleading. Godchaux was stout in the middle of the defensive line; inadvertently tasked with absorbing double teams and giving players like Vince Biegel or Jerome Baker room to blitz.

It’s quite possible that Godchaux is lower than he should be on this list, simply because we take his performance for granted.

4) Mike Gesicki

I’m going to hold my hand up high and admit that I thought Mike Gesicki was going to be an absolute bust for the Miami Dolphins.

More-notorious for not staying on his feet than Brian Hartline, Gesicki overcame a (very) rough rookie season and turned into a reliable seam threat for Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Gesicki finished the year with 51 receptions, 570 receiving yards (an 11.2 yards-per-reception average) and five touchdowns – the first of his career. He proved to be a mismatch against linebackers; and whether he lines up in the slot or on the outside, the Dolphins are going to take advantage each time they see him 1-on-1 against an LB.

Athletic and deceptively quicker than we might realize, Gesicki honed his route running and displayed a much better catch radius than what we saw his rookie year. The image of Brent Grimes wide-eyed after Gesicki went up for a touchdown says more than a thousand words – but if nothing else, it tells us that the Miami Dolphins have a legitimate tight end.

3) Vince Biegel

Vince Biegel came to Miami as a complete afterthought.

The Dolphins traded incumbent linebacker Kiko Alonso to the New Orleans Saints in an effort to alleviate cap space in 2020. In return, they received a little-known, former 4th-round pick who was about to play for his third team in 3 years.

For all the grief we’ve given Chris Grier over his scouting, we have to give him a ton of credit for this one. Saying the Saints got fleeced is an understatement.

In 13 games (4 starts) with the Saints, Alonso recorded 31 tackles, 0 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss (TFL) and 2 QB Hits.

In 15 games (10 starts), Biegel accumulated 57 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7 TFL, 13 QB Hits and an interception to boot.

Biegel was such a force at linebacker, that Dolphins fans forgot he was going to be a free agent this offseason and just assumed they had him for years to come. Most of us hope the Dolphins find a way to keep Biegel around at a reasonable (yet worthy) price.

The growth he, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker can make with another year together could all together eliminate the need to use assets on a linebacker in the near-future. Especially when the team will get Andrew Van Ginkel back for a full, healthy season.

2) Jerome Baker

Arguably Chris Grier’s best draft pick, Jerome Baker has evolved into one of the best all-around linebackers in the league. You can consider that an overstatement, but his versatility, durability and play-making ability make him a prime candidate to burst into the national spotlight in 2020.

Baker and Eric Rowe were the only players who logged over 1,000 snaps last season (1,079 for Baker, 1,071 for Rowe).

After a rookie season that showed a ton of promise, Baker’s sophomore season ended with 124 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 5 QB hits, 2 forced fumbles, 4 passes defended and 1 interception. Versatile in coverage, as a spy, diagnosing the run, and when he blitzes, Baker may be the real Swiss-Army knife of this Dolphins’ defense.

The biggest question we now have to ask is: what do the Miami Dolphins do with Jerome Baker? He’s still two years away from free agency, but if his 2020 season is any improvement over what we’ve seen, Baker is going to command A LOT of money when he enters the final year of his rookie deal.

Don’t let Baker turn into another Olivier Vernon, Jarvis Landry or Lamar Miller. Pay the talent you successfully scouted and maintain a sense of culture and camaraderie.

Honorable Mentions:

Christian Wilkins:

Christian Wilkins came to the Miami Dolphins with a ton of charisma and a jovial personality unmatched by any top draft pick that came before him.

From the moment the 315lbs linebacker did a split after Clemson won their national championship in 2018, to the time he had Roger Goodell go up for a chest bump after he was drafted, Wilkins was a beloved figure.

But personality can only take you so far, and when the season started Wilkins needed to back up his charity work and infectious smile with the brutality necessary to win at the line of scrimmage. And boy did he live up to it.

Wilkins may not have finished with the most-gaudy numbers, but they’re still impressive nonetheless. For his rookie season, Wilkins totaled 56 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 passes defended. He’s caught every pass ever thrown to him (1), and it even resulted in a touchdown.

His 888 total snaps (between defense, special teams and the 2 he accumulated on offense) are noteworthy for a rookie defensive tackle.

The other 1st-round defensive linemen drafted in 2019 finished with:

  • Quinnen Williams (3rd-overall): 577 total snaps
  • Clelin Ferrell (4th): 716 snaps
  • Ed Oliver (9th): 572 snaps
  • Wilkins (13th): 888 snaps
  • Brian Burns (16th): 609 snaps
  • Dexter Lawrence (17th): 866 snaps
  • Jeffery Simmons (19th): 368 snaps
  • Montez Sweat (26th): 817 snaps
  • Jerry Tillery (28th): 436 snaps

The 2019 draft class was stacked on the defensive line, and yet, the Dolphins may have managed to draft the best one of the bunch midway through the round.

Nik Needham:

The Miami Dolphins signed Nik Needham as an undrafted free agent with the hope that he would provide depth for a position group that already featured plenty of expensive and starting-caliber players within it.

Instead, the Dolphins add another commodity to that list.

Competing for playing time with players like Xavien Howard, Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Minkah Fitzpatrick and a plethora of other roster invitees, Needham had an excellent camp, but found himself just missing the final 53-man roster.

That didn’t stop him from honing his craft and earning a promotion from the practice squad one day before the Dolphins were set to take on the Washington Redskins in Week 6.

Needham went on to start the final 11 games of the season, and ended the year with 2 interceptions, 11 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack and 54 total tackles.

As a rookie cornerback, you’re expected to be picked on, but Needham was bullied by the refs more than he was by opposing quarterbacks. Questionable calls against Needham towards the end of the year put a slight damper on his otherwise stellar season.

Though in the eyes of some Dolphins fans, that erroneous (non-existent) pass interference penalty that was overturned on the final drive during the New York Jets loss was a blessing in disguise.

1) DeVante Parker

It may have taken slightly longer than we originally hoped, but Ryan Fitzpatrick’s aggressive style highlighted just how elite DeVante Parker can be when you just throw him the damn ball.

Previously marred by the occasional health concern and offensive schemes that didn’t cater to his skillset, Parker was deemed a “bust” by most Dolphins fans. Drafted 14th-overall in the 2014 NFL draft, Parker was expected to transcend the offense. Instead, bubble screens became the focal point for an offense that was littered with deep threat specialists (Parker, Kenny Stills and Jakeem Grant).

Parker’s recent 4-year, $40m extension is a reward not only for the production Parker put up in 2019, but for the potential Parker still has left in him.

In 16 games this past season (the first time he’s been active for 16 games his entire career), Parker caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. In his four years prior to 2019, Parker caught a combined 163 passes for 2,217 yards and 9 TDs.

As long as he can stay healthy, and the Dolphins don’t revert back to a scared, anemic offense, you can expect annual 1,000 yard seasons from the team’s #1 receiver.

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