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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins vs. Bills – Week 13 Preview

Travis Wingfield

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Who: Dolphins (5-6) vs. Bills (4-7)
When: December 2, 1:00 East
Where: Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
Weather: 83 degrees, 79% humidity, 40% chance of rain
Vegas Slant: Dolphins -4.5

Dolphins-Bills

The NFL is a war of attrition. Tempering peaks and managing the valleys, in a game all about overcoming adversity, Miami faces a considerable test Sunday returning home for the first time in a month.

Fresh off a devastating loss in which Miami blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead, playoffs appear to be out of reach as the Dolphins’ focus shifts to finding a way to win a football game. Fortunately, for Adam Gase’s team, four of Miami’s five wins this season have come at Hard Rock Stadium.

Ryan Tannehill is back under center and gave the offense a much needed boost (three touchdowns after a nine quarter streak without visiting pay dirt).

Still, the Dolphins have only reached the winner’s circle once in the last 48 days. A once lifeless Buffalo team have doubled its projected season win total and comes into Miami fresh off an uplifting home win under their own starting quarterback’s return.

The Bills Scheme:
Offense

Brian Daboll isn’t exactly working with world class ingredients, but he has found a way to maximize the strengths of his quarterback in the Bills four wins this season. In those four victories the offense averages 26.3 points per game. In the seven defeats Daboll’s attack unit averages a paltry 8 points per contest. Repeating for emphasis – eight.

Go back to 2016 when Miami pivoted to a zone running game with play action bootleg principles built in – that’s the Bills offense. There is variety in the blocking scheme with a healthy mix of outside-zone (with split zone to compliment, but also affords Allen the under route on the bootleg) with some gap power schemes.

The deep shots in the offense come off play-action and generally utilize only two or three players out in the pattern. Daboll has made a concerted effort to keep Allen protected, but pressure still finds its way through often. From there, Allen is asked to improvise – and he’s well equipped to do so.

Defense:

Sean McDermott has his aggressive, ball hawking defense playing better than all but a handful of teams in the NFL. Predicated on rangy defensive backs that moonlight in run support, Buffalo can throw a variety of blitz packages at opposing offenses and challenge the short passing game.

Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Most of Buffalo’s looks include a single high safety. They will show two-deep looks, but the strong safety typically jumps into a robber role looking to lay the lumber on backside digs or over routes and front side slants.

Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier’s impact on the defense hasn’t been lost this season. Operating primarily in even fronts, the Buffalo defense operates in a combination of a one-gap and two-gap schemes.

Frazier is a proponent of the double A-gap pressure look, in an attempt to free up one-on-one match-ups for his best pass rusher. That player, in Buffalo, is Jerry Hughes.

The Players:
Offense:

Josh Allen was the whipping boy of the draft process for pundits and fans alike, but he has shown some of the traits that made him an intriguing prospect. His rookie year is essentially a wash from a passing development standpoint, but he’s extending and making teams pay with his legs.

The porous offensive line in front of Allen isn’t helping matters. Replacing three starters from 2017 has proven difficult. Second-year pro Dion Dawkins has filled in nicely for Cordy Glenn at left tackle, but Russell Bodine, John Miller and Jordan Mills (from center to right tackle) is one of the worst trios in the NFL.

LeSean McCoy (somehow still afforded the privilege of playing despite some unsettling off-the-field involvement this summer) has struggled as a result. McCoy is on track for his lowest outputs in yardage, touchdowns and yards per carry since his rookie year in 2009.

It doesn’t get any prettier on the perimeter. Buffalo’s ragtag group of receivers is led by Kelvin Benjamin – who is allergic to creating any separation. This match-up against Miami’s cover corners bodes well for the home team.

Defense:

Like the Dolphins, Buffalo’s best position group is the secondary. TreDavious White has emerged as a lock down corner in just his second year. Micah Hyde is the straw that stirs the drink in the Buffalo defensive backfield. He’ll come down and cover the slot, he’ll blitz the edge and he’ll rob the hook zone as well as any one.

Jordan Poyer is a problem in his own right. He’s often tasked with playing the single high center field position and is near the top of the leaderboard in interceptions dating back to 2017.

The linebacker corps is led by second-year standout Matt Milano. Milano has 10 pressures when called upon to blitz, he’s made 30 run stops, and is allowing a passer rating against of just 62.1 in coverage.

Rookie Tremaine Edmunds has been a slow study. His only real impact is as a pass rusher with 10 pressures of his own. He’s a liability in coverage so far in his rookie season.

Up front Jerry Hughes is a difficult block. Fortunately, Miami gets to offset Hughes with their best offensive player (Laremy Tunsil). Expect the Bills to try to run some games (stunts, twists) to get Hughes working inside on Ted Larsen.

The interior defensive line is the pivotal match-up for the Miami O-line. Buffalo is deep with the ageless Kyle Williams and newcomers Star Lotulelei, Harrison Philips and former Dolphin, Jordan Phillips.

Other players of note, Lorenzo Alexander has 29 pass rush pressures on the year and rookie slot corner, Taron Johnson, allows the fourth lowest completion percentage among rookie corners.

The Medical:

The Concerns:

Miami’s offense typically bogs down against the Bills defense. With creative pattern matching and a variety of press and off coverage on the back end, Tannehill can get into trouble with his eyes. That, coupled with what figures to be heavy interior pressure, could spell turnovers for the Miami offense.

Defensively, the running quarterback is an everlasting thorn in the side of the Dolphins franchise. The skill group isn’t good enough to beat Miami, but Josh Allen escaping pressure could extend some drives in a game that will be predicated on field position.

The Opportunities:

The Bills called upon undrafted rookie free agent Levi Wallace last Sunday, and he’s susceptible to suddenness. Miami figures to make him their rabbit for the game, in addition to finding match-ups on fellow rookie Tremaine Edmunds.

Cam Wake is still an elite rusher. He took Colts Rookie Braden Smith to task last week, and he has a history of punishing Bills Right Tackle Jordan Mills. Allen will give the defense plenty of opportunities to take the football away – Miami’s greatest asset in 2018.

The Projected Result:

Optimism is at season-low among Dolphins fans. The focus has shifted towards draft talk, potential Head Coaching candidates and the annual quarterback-of-the-future discussion is in full force.

However, returning home to play a game they must win both for playoff hopes and job security purposes, this is the type of adversity Adam Gase constructed his team to deal with.

With takeaway opportunities aplenty, and the second week back from injury with the starting quarterback, Miami takes care of business in relatively convincing fashion.

Dolphins 23
Bills 10

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Guide – Cornerbacks

Travis Wingfield

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Over the next two weeks, Locked On Dolphins will bring you your one-stop shop for all things Miami Dolphins 2019 training camp

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Defensive Interior
Defensive Edge
Linebackers
Cornerbacks
Safeties – 7/23
Specialists – 7/24

Game-By-Game Predictions Part 1 – 7/24 (Part 2 coming in September)

Prologue:

For the majority of the Ryan Tannehill era, the Dolphins entered training camp as dark horse candidates to seize a wildcard playoff berth. Things have changed for the worse in 2019, but the step backward comes with the hopes of constructing a perennial AFC East contender capable of winning games in January.

That’s the big-picture snapshot of the Miami Dolphins rebuild. In the interim, however, establishing the core principles of the Brian Flores program, as well as developing young talent, both capture the forefront of this year’s training camp objectives.

Over the next two weeks, we will get you familiar with each player on the roster. With biographies, quick-hitter scouting notes, and a prediction on the player’s ultimate role on the 2019 Dolphins, this serves as your guide for Miami’s summer practice session.

Cornerbacks

Overview:

The most intriguing position on the roster, Miami’s defensive backfield has both blue chip talents and promising upside. The financial investment at the top of the cornerback depth chart is balanced by a group of unproven youngsters rounding out the unit.

Josh Boyer is one of the four Patriot defects to make the migration south along with Brian Flores. His forte in Foxboro, where he spent 13 years working with Flores, bringing undrafted players into the spotlight — most recently J.C. Jackson, before Malcolm Butler. Boyer coached New England’s corners from 2012-2018, was a DB’s Assistant from ’09-’11, and served as a Defensive Assistant from ’06-’08.

The lines between corner and safety distinction are blurred in this scheme, so the duality of some players brings about multiple job descriptions. In the new defense safeties are expected to come down and cover, with sticky man coverage serving as a non-negotiable trait of each player.

Xavien Howard – 3 years of service (4th in MIA)
Jersey: 25
College: Baylor
Opening Day Age: 26.2
Contract Details: 6 years remaining, $75.3M total, $27.2M guaranteed

Howard’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Rewarded with the richest cornerback contract in football, Xavien Howard’s emergence at the end of 2017 rolled into 2018. Howard is physically imposing, offers elite tracking and ball skills, he’s a willing tackler and he’s a perfect candidate to take on the Stephon Gilmore role in Flores and Boyer’s secondary.

Howard wins with elite mirroring technique, a strong inside-hand jam, and constant disruption of the receiver’s ultimate goal. Nobody has intercepted more passes going back to December 2017, making Howard worth every penny of his new deal.

2019 Projected Role: Perimeter Cornerback, 100% snap-taker

Minkah Fitzpatrick – 1 years of service (2nd in MIA)
Jersey: 29
College: Alabama
Opening Day Age: 22.8
Contract Details: 3 years remaining (option for a 4th), $6M total, $0 guaranteed

Fitzpatrick’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Saban’s Son — as he is so aptly nicknamed — is the poster boy for the type of defense the Dolphins hope to cultivate under new management. A star slot corner in college, Fitzpatrick was among the game’s best at the same position during his rookie campaign. Poor coaching moved Fitzpatrick about the formation — with little warning ahead of time — and probably stunted his development.

In year-two, a clear plan has been devised for Fitzpatrick, and the expectation is all-pro production. Serving as the base nickel corner Fitzpatrick will rotate into safety responsibilities in some situations, and out to perimeter corner when the offense brings multiple backs or tight ends on the field. He’s going to blitz, he’s going to support the run and screen game, and he’s going to get his hands on footballs.

This could well be Miami’s unquestioned best player when we write this preview next summer.

2019 Projected Role: Slot and Perimeter Corner, 100% snap-taker

Eric Rowe – 4 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 21
College: Utah
Opening Day Age: 26.9
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $3.5M total, $500K guaranteed

Rowe’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

The first of many low-risk, high-reward acquisitions this offseason, Rowe’s largest obstacle is the medical. Missing 27 games the last three years, Rowe’s career is hanging by a thread. If he can find his rookie year form — and health — Rowe is an intelligent, position-diverse asset in the secondary.

This defense wants to matchup and bounce players from boundary to field responsibility. A willing tackler and capable slot cover-guy, Rowe checks those boxes. A clean bill of health could earn Rowe a second contract with the Dolphins.

2019 Projected Role: Perimeter Cornerback, occasional slot/safety 85% snap-taker

Jalen Davis – 1 year of service (2nd in MIA)
Jersey: 36
College: Utah State
Opening Day Age: 23.4
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed

A December call-up, Davis made an impact as a rookie undrafted free agent last year. His best position is the slot, and another step in his progression could create some expendable veterans in the secondary. He entered the week 16 Jacksonville game and forced a fumble, sacked Cody Kessler, and broke up a third-down pass in the end zone.

Davis could see some run in the Dolphins dime package, contribute on special teams, and act as the first man off the bench in case of injury.

2019 Projected Role: Backup slot, dime slot, 20% snap-taker

Cornell Armstrong – 1 year of service (2nd in MIA)
Jersey: 31
College: Southern Miss
Opening Day Age: 24.0
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $2M total, $0 guaranteed

Armstrong’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Earning a role as a core special teamer last year, Armstrong is poised to make more of a contribution on defense. He had a cup of coffee on defense in his rookie season (83 snaps), and the scheme change suits his aggressive style as much as any player in the Miami secondary.

Armstrong plays with his hair on fire. He will separate receivers from the football and rack up passes defensed in bunches.

2019 Projected Role: Backup perimeter corner

Torry McTyer – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 24
College: UNLV
Opening Day Age: 24.6
Contract Details: 1 years remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed

The surprise of the early portion of camp last year, McTyer worked his way into significant playing time, but the results were mixed. His physical brand and willingness to stick his nose in on the running game are feathers in his cap, but he’s going to have to fend off several gunning for his job.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Cordrea Tankersley – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 23
College: Clemson
Opening Day Age: 26.2
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.4M total, $0 guaranteed

After a promising rookie season, 2018 could not have played out any worse for the former college national champion. Tankersley is more of a physical marvel than a thinking man’s corner, which bodes well in the new defense.

In addition to learning a new scheme, and bouncing back from a supremely subpar performance, Tankersley is working back from the ACL he tore last October. He’s a candidate to begin camp — and the season — on the physically unable to perform list, with eligibility to return in week six.

2019 Projected Role: P.U.P – Backup Perimeter Corner upon activation

Walt Aikens – 5 years of service (6th in MIA)
Jersey: 35
College: Liberty
Opening Day Age: 28.2
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $1.4M total, $0 guaranteed

Bouncing between safety and corner during his five-year tenure in Miami, Aikens hasn’t found his true home on defense. He did, however, earn a second contract with the Dolphins last summer for one reason — special teams.

Taking over for the departed Michael Thomas last year, Aikens is the unquestioned leader of the third phase of the game.

2019 Projected Role: Special Teams Exclusively

Nik Needham – Rookie
Jersey: 40
College: UTEP
Opening Day Age: 22.8
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

A four-year starter and all-time UTEP leader in passes defensed, Needham is a technically sound corner with a penchant for finding the football. He’s known for his choppy footwork and instincts for the position. He mastered UTEP’s combination coverages and excels in both man and zone.

Needham is a prime candidate to be the next name on Josh Boyer’s UDFA-turned-producer list.

2019 Projected Role: Backup Perimeter Corner

Jomal Wiltz – 2 years of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 33
College: Iowa State
Opening Day Age: 24.9
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed

Beginning his career in Philadelphia, Wiltz was most recently with Boyer and the Patriots practice squad. Like Needham, Wiltz is a scheme diverse, instinctive cover corner.

Iowa State’s defense has routinely been the best in the Big 12, due in large part to the work of defensive coordinator Jon Heacock. A terrific piece penned by Mark Schofield on Pats Pulpit showcased the similarities in Heacock’s defense and the schemes deployed by Bill Belichick.

Adhering to those principles and fundamentals, it should come as no surprise that Wiltz was one of the stars of minicamp.

2019 Projected Role: Backup Perimeter Corner

Montre Hartage – Rookie
Jersey: 41
College: Northwestern
Opening Day Age: 23.3
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

Patriots corners typically measure impressively in the three-cone, short shuttle, and vertical and broad jumps. Hartage checked each of those boxes at the combine, and his tape is loaded with smart football plays.

Hartage picked up nine career interceptions at Northwestern, in addition to plenty of evidence of run-support. He’s not sudden enough to play inside, and his long-speed could be exposed on the outside, but the latter has proven to be a bit of a non-issue with this defensive scheme.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad

Chris Lammons – 1 year of service (1st in MIA)
Jersey: 30
College: South Carolina
Opening Day Age: 23.4
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed

With limited change-of-direction ability, Lammons route to the 53-man roster likely comes as a gunner on special teams. He’s adept in zone, but lacks the physicality to matchup in man coverage at this level.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

2019 Dolphins Cornerbacks at a Glance:

With blue chip talent atop the cornerback depth chart, it’s imperative that Miami uncover a cheap option to round out the rest of the up-for-grabs workload in the secondary. Between Howard, Fitzpatrick, Bobby McCain, and Reshad Jones in the defensive backfield, there isn’t a lot left in the budget to fill the voids in next year’s free agent class.

Luckily, the potential to achieve cheap production is already on the roster. Communication breakdowns occurred with regularity last year, but fans should expect a clearly defined defense to impart substantial improvements for a talented unit. Howard’s breakthrough, in accordance with a similar expected outcome from Fitzpatrick, could make the cornerback room the most talented group on the team.

Tackling, man-coverage, instincts, and an introduction into the modern era of defensive football will prove to be the stalwarts of this position. More dime and quarter packages should vastly improve Miami’s third-and-long defense.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins 2019 Training Camp Guide – Off-Ball Linebackers

Travis Wingfield

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Over the next two weeks, Locked On Dolphins will bring you your one-stop shop for all things Miami Dolphins 2019 training camp

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Wide Receivers
Offensive Line
Defensive Interior
Defensive Edge
Linebackers
Cornerbacks
Safeties – 7/23
Specialists – 7/24

Game-By-Game Predictions Part 1 – 7/24 (Part 2 coming in September)

Prologue:

For the majority of the Ryan Tannehill era, the Dolphins entered training camp as dark horse candidates to seize a wildcard playoff berth. Things have changed for the worse in 2019, but the step backward comes with the hopes of constructing a perennial AFC East contender capable of winning games in January.

That’s the big-picture snapshot of the Miami Dolphins rebuild. In the interim, however, establishing the core principles of the Brian Flores program, as well as developing young talent, both capture the forefront of this year’s training camp objectives.

Over the next two weeks, we will get you familiar with each player on the roster. With biographies, quick-hitter scouting notes, and a prediction on the player’s ultimate role on the 2019 Dolphins, this serves as your guide for Miami’s summer practice session.

Linebackers (Off-Ball)

Overview:

Like the multi-purposed edge players, the linebacker position will be asked to change their respective responsibilities entirely from the previous scheme. Patrick Graham coached the linebackers and coordinated the run defense in Green Bay and now takes over as the Defensive Coordinator under Brian Flores with the Dolphins.

The marriage of the New England and Green Bay schemes might contribute equal parts and look relatively identical in the secondary (more dime and quarter packages), but the front-seven is where the differences lie. Whether it’s the 4-2 or 3-3, we can presumably conclude that the linebackers will take on responsibilities of the former wide-9 ends on the roster.

Defending the edge in the ground game, offering blitzes both off the edge and looping inside on stunts, and shifting about the formation trying to find the vulnerable gaps.

Whereas in the previous scheme, the linebackers were responsible for play-side and backside gaps, this defense will allow the ‘backers to play more aggressively. With a free-flowing, downhill style, the minimization of the run fits should open up more blitzing opportunities.

So that’s the tradeoff — less run responsibility, but more by way of bringing pressure. Though Flores and Graham have linebacker pedigrees, Rob Leonard is tasked with running the room. Leonard was on the Giants staff for six years including two seasons as a colleague of Graham (Giants defensive line coach in 2016 and 2017).

Raekwon McMillan – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 52
College: Ohio State
Opening Day Age: 23.8
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $2M total, $0 guaranteed

McMillan’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

After a slow start in his first NFL action — returning from a torn ACL his rookie season — it’s difficult to poke holes in McMillan’s game. As the 2018 season progressed, McMillan took on expanded leadership roles and the defensive calls. His work as a b-gap-to-b-gap defender was top shelf from October onward.

No linebacker registered more run-stops (tackles within two yards of the LOS) during that period. McMillan’s 43 run stops was 13 higher than the second place finisher (Luke Kuechly, 30), despite playing in one less game. His run-stop percentage also led the way at 14% — second place was 11.9% (Leighton Vander Esch).

This scheme should free McMillan up to perform at an ever higher level. The next step is for the Dolphins young ‘backer to provide more returns as a blitzer — something he showed in college, and a big element of linebacker play in the new scheme.

Expect big things from 52 in 2019.

2019 Projected Role: Starting Middle Linebacker, 90+% snap-taker

Kiko Alonso – 6 years of service (4th in MIA)
Jersey: 47
College: Oregon
Opening Day Age: 29.1
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $12.9M total, $2.6M guaranteed

Alonso’s Film Study by Locked On Dolphins

Despite racking up tackles at an absurd pace, and regularly finding the football, Alonso has taken his lumps since coming to Miami. Too much has been asked of the former Duck in coverage and as a quarterback spy, but his lack instincts are often exposed.

Alonso is all hustle and all ball, and while that results in a few takeaways every season, it also leads to far too many roughness penalties. Alonso’s bloated contract keeps him on borrowed time in Miami, and the Dolphins will likely phase him out as the season goes along.

2019 Projected Role: 3-3 Linebacker, First off the Field, 50% snap-taker

Chase Allen – 2 years of service (3rd in MIA)
Jersey: 59
College: Ohio State
Opening Day Age: 26.0
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $645K total, $0 guaranteed

Missing the majority of the 2018 season puts Allen in a bit of a bind. He serves a purpose on special teams and a niche role as the nose backer (lining up over the center in the wide-9), but with a new staff and new responsibilities, Allen will have to fend off a long list of newcomers to earn a roster spot.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Mike Hull – 4 years of service (5th in MIA)
Jersey: 45
College: Penn State
Opening Day Age: 28.4
Contract Details: 1 year remaining, $805K total, $90K guaranteed

Hull and Allen are something of a redundancy on this roster. Both excel on special teams but have a difficult time finding a role in modern-day NFL defenses. Hull missed half of the 2018 season and likely falls victim to the same miscast roles as Allen in the new scheme.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

Tre Watson – Rookie
Jersey: 44
College: Maryland
Opening Day Age: 23.3
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

A sure-tackler and a big hitter, Watson has an outside shot at making the roster as a core special teamer and backup middle backer. The new prototype at the position doesn’t require elite movement measurements (likely why Watson and his 4.73 forty wound up in Miami), but he will need to improve his run-key identification to make the roster.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad

Sam Eguavoen – Rookie
Jersey: 49
College: Texas Tech
Opening Day Age: 26.5
Contract Details: 3 years remaining, $1.8M total, $0 guaranteed

Cam Wake’s legacy with the Dolphins may have placed unfair expectations on CFL conversions, but Eguavoen’s tape from up north is impressive. He’s undersized (227 lbs.) but he brings explosive measurements to Miami. Eguavoen had 10 workouts scheduled this offseason with NFL teams, but signed with the team that saw him first — the Dolphins.

Eguavoen made quite an impression at organized team activities getting involved in a number of turnovers over the course of the six-week period.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut, practice squad

Quentin Poling – 1 year of service (2rd in MIA)
Jersey: 51
College: Ohio
Opening Day Age: 25.1
Contract Details: 2 years remaining, $1.1M total, $0 guaranteed

Poling’s instinctive nature, and plethora of football experience, is his calling card, but he struggles to work through traffic. He’s too easily washed out by contact and might need another year to add size to his frame.

A relentless motor and experience calling the defense in college are feathers in Poling’s cap, but he has to made some headway in camp to stick around.

2019 Projected Role: Camp cut

2019 Dolphins Linebackers (Off-Ball) at a Glance:

Though this position group seems a tad light, Jerome Baker probably belongs in this group, in addition to his mention in the edge position. Baker and McMillan give the Dolphins immediate and long-term answers at two of the most important positions on this defense — the pairing has a chance to be special.

Alonso will have to have the best year of his career to be back in 2020, and even that is a question considering the contract number. There is hope for improvement for Kiko with the scheme change and drawn back responsibility.

The rest of the players in this group will compete for backup work, but primarily special teams’ duty. Keeping an eye on the kick coverage units during camp and preseason should provide an indicator for which players will fill out the bottom of the linebacker depth chart.

@WingfieldNFL

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Miami Dolphins

Staff Predictions: Which rookie will have the biggest impact in 2019?

Gabe Hauari

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The Dolphins enter Year 1 of the rebuild under the leadership of Brian Flores and Chris Grier with what appears to be an extremely green and unproven roster. While there is veteran talent on this roster, there will be ample opportunity for rookies, both drafted and undrafted, to earn roster spots and snaps.

With that being said, the LOD staff took a shot at predicting which Dolphins rookie will have the biggest impact this upcoming season.

Chris Kowalewski

Prediction: Andrew Van Ginkel

Every Dolphins fan should be hoping that Clemson DT, Christian Wilkins is the most impactful rookie from Miami’s 2019 draft class. When you select someone at the 13th overall pick, anything less could be potentially disappointing for a team which has such a perceived lack of talent. However, it works both ways and the number of open competitions provides huge opportunities for rookies across the board.

Whilst I am certainly hopeful for big impacts in the running game from FB Chandler Cox and by having a mauler on the O-Line in G, Michael Dieter I think the most significant addition could be in the form of the Dolphins’ surprise 5th round pick, LB Andrew Van Ginkel. With 99 tackles (19.5 for a loss), 12 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions in 2 years at Wisconsin (2017-2018), Van Ginkel plays with a high level of energy and has an inherent nose for the football. 

A lot of people hadn’t heard of Van Ginkel before Miami’s pick at 151 but the hope is that, in time, he can develop into a playmaker for the Dolphins defense under Brian Flores.

Speed, energy and football smarts could go a long way in Miami’s new defensive scheme and Van Ginkel could grow to be a great compliment to Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan – think Kiko Alonso, but more of his big highlight plays than the forgettable failed coverages and the Dolphins could have unearthed a talented gem as part of the future of their young team.

Travis Wingfield

Prediction: Christian Wilkins

Taking chalk doesn’t make for entertaining journalism, but let’s be real here, Wilkins is the only rookie guaranteed to play significant time on the Dolphins. He’s a disruptive force against the pass with the athleticism and intelligence to execute the many games (stunts, twists, slants) of a Brian Flores front. 

Wilkins’ position versatility likely led to Miami’s infatuation with the multi-degreed, multi-championship winning collegiate star. As the 3-tech, 4i, or even some reps outside as the 7-tech, Wilkins is going to play upwards of 75% of the Dolphins defensive snaps as a rookie.

Shawn Digity

Prediction: Michael Deiter

There’s nothing to necessarily base this on other than my belief that Deiter is the most pro ready. And that much is certainly arguable; others might want to say Christian Wilkins, and I’d be OK with that. But I’m giving the go-ahead to Deiter. 

I think he’ll still take a bruising in training camp while he gets his NFL bearings, but he’ll also become the most productive rookie this year. This wasn’t really a draft class that boasted a lot of guys that could step in and start on Day 1. Andrew Van Ginkel, Isaiah Prince, Myles Gaskin, and Chandler Cox are all late-rounders and role-players, so to me, the conversation comes down to two frontrunners: Michael Deiter and Christian Wilkins. 

Deiter will be able to quickly step up to the plate if he shows out in camp because of the dearth of offensive linemen the Dolphins find themselves in. Deiter will be the best of the bunch, but that also doesn’t mean it’s going to be a spotless performance during the regular season. 

He’ll get truly tested by guys like Quinnen Williams twice this season against the Jets, Fletcher Cox v. the Eagles in Week 15 and Geno Atkins v. The Bengals in Week 16. The season will definitely show more promise than concern, and Deiter will become an anchor for years to come after earning some stripes this year.

Andrew Mitchell

Prediction: Michael Deiter

While it’s difficult to put Christian Wilikins in this spot, I think with our DL rotation he could technically have less of an overall impact due to snap counts. Whereas, in Deiter’s case, I fully anticipate him starting on our weak offensive line and playing the entire season.

Deiter comes from Wisconsin, who are notorious for churning out high quality offensive lineman. The Dolphins have struggled at the Guard position for a long time now and I expect Deiter to help alleviate that void.


All in all I think our entire rookie class is going to have a solid impact regardless due to the fact this is a season for development and experience. But with issues along the offensive line and the habitual lack of solid guard play, I see Deiter as having a huge impact on solidifying our run game and developing into an above average starter for years to come.

Jason Hrina

Prediction: Michael Deiter

Michael Deiter is poised to be the biggest contributor from this rookie class. There is nothing sexy or intricate about this selection; it speaks more about the state of the roster than it does about each rookie’s potential.

With a such a weak offensive line, the Miami Dolphins need any upgrade they can find. Barring an absolutely miserable preseason, Deiter should find himself starting a majority of the games this season at left guard.

Players like Myles Gaskin and Chandler Cox can pose as offensive threats, but just how much playing time will they receive behind Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage?

Christian Wilkins should be the biggest playmaker of the bunch, but he’s sitting behind Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor and Akeem Spence on the depth chart. He may only see a limited amount of snaps this season, even as a high 1st-round pick.

The hope here is that Deiter will be able to solidify one of the guard spots and get the Miami Dolphins 2020 quarterback in a secure spot to begin (or continue) their career.

Gabe Hauari

Prediction: Chandler Cox

This might be the un-sexiest pick of them all (yes, even less sexy than picking Michael Deiter), but I sincerely believe Chandler Cox is going to have a big impact on the Dolphins run game this season.

You don’t spend a draft pick on a fullback unless you plan on using him in a variety of ways. Cox has shown the ability to be a bulldozer as a blocker, but he can also catch passes out of the backfield. I also assume Chad O’Shea will utilize him in short yardage and goal line situations.

James Develin made a huge impact for the Patriots last season, and I suspect Chandler Cox will have a similar impact on Miami this season.

 

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