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The Aftermath: Dolphins 27 Patriots 24

Travis Wingfield

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Snap Counts, Grades, Metrics, and Other Phins Notes

Foreword:

As we develop a weekly content schedule for the season, I wanted something to bridge the gap between the Sunday night game breakdown column and the Tuesday film review. So, here we are with a smorgasbord of information, statistics, snap counts, and whatever is prudent to the Dolphins game from the Sunday prior.

We’ll dive into the game data from Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, grab some quotes from the player’s and coach’s pressers, and continue to provide the most comprehensive coverage on the Miami Dolphins you can find.

Dolphins-Patriots

Team Stats

Since the Dolphins made the jump from the AFL to the NFL in 1970, the team has won four or fewer games just twice (2004 and 2007). The 2019 season promised to join those records in the abyss of this franchise’s lowest points with an insurmountable task Sunday in Foxboro.

Instead, the Dolphins shocked the betting world by overcoming three-score-underdog status for the most improbable win in the NFL in nearly three decades. And they did it by having the third most successful passing day of the season against the NFL’s stingiest defense.

Despite facing pressure on 31 of his 50 drop backs, Ryan Fitzpatrick took just two sacks, didn’t turn the ball over, and moved the chains 26 times — New England averaged allowing just 15 first downs coming into the game. The Patriots held 10 passers under 200 yards, by Fitzpatrick went over 300 yards, including a game-winning, 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to put the quintessential bow on this trying season.

The Dolphins made winners of all bettors on their season win total (which never eclipsed 4.5 wins, even before the trades of Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills and Minkah Fitzpatrick). They made fools of all the analysts that called their effort — their entire operation — a disgrace to the game. And in doing so, the Dolphins forced New England into a game on Wildcard Weekend for the first time since the 2009 loss to Baltimore.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, despite starting just 13 games, posted his third-highest yardage total in his 15-year career. The Dolphins finish 27th in total offense, 12th in passing, last in rushing, and 25th in scoring.

Miami finishes with the 18th-most efficient red zone offense in the league, and the 34.3% third down conversion rate ranks 28th in football.

The team’s defensive rankings dipped to irreparable levels in the first month of the season. Allowing better than 30 points in each of those four games, the Dolphins defense only allowed 30 or more points in four of the final 12 (this excludes Buffalo’s onside kick return that gave the Bills 31 points that day).

Sunday was Miami’s best effort. The Dolphins used eight defensive backs for a total of 301 snaps in the win. Seven of the eight players (Eric Rowe the exception) were either undrafted rookies, or players that were acquired in-season for the Fins.

The result, an 88.4 passer rating for Tom Brady — on-track with his season mark, but nearly 10 points lower than his career figure in that department.

Miami finishes the season 30th in total defense, 26th in passing, 27th in rushing, and last in scoring. The Dolphins red zone defense finished 27th in preventing touchdowns, and the 41.8% third down conversion rate allowed ranked 24th in the NFL.

Flores’ defense finishes 11th in blitz frequency, 21st in knockdown percentage, and last in hurry rate, pressure rate, and sacks. The Dolphins 109 missed tackles were 10th most in the league, but nobody was on the field more than Miami’s defense.

The “Takes No Talent” mantra was effective. The Dolphins had the fourth-fewest penalties assessed for the fourth fewest yardage total in the NFL.

Offense:

Snap Counts:

Player Snaps (% of Offensive Snaps)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 68 (100%)
RB Patrick Laird 61 (89.7%)
RB Samaje Perine 6 (8.8%)
FB Chandler Cox 1 (1.5%)
WR Devante Parker 67 (98.5%)
WR Albert Wilson 67 (98.5%)
WR Isaiah Ford 53 (77.9%)
WR Mack Hollins 2 (2.9%)
TE Mike Gesicki 51 (75%)
TE Durham Smythe 27 (39.7%)
OL Julie’n Davenport 68 (100%)
OL Michael Deiter 68 (100%)
OL Daniel Kilgore 68 (100%)
OL Shaq Calhoun 68 (100%)
OL Jesse Davis 68 (100%)
OL Adam Pankey 8 (11.8%)

 

Miami’s health along the offensive line was sustained through the final game, as all five starters played wire-to-wire, yet again. Pro Football Focus credited the Patriots with 19 pressures, but other outlets say that number was in the 30’s.

Julie’n Davenport led the way with five, and Michael Deiter had four pressures allowed. The challenging season for the left side of the line comes to a disappointing end.

Jesse Davis closed out a strong December to emphatically state his case for the right tackle position next season and beyond. Davis surrendered two pressures, both hurries. In the month of December, Davis allowed only 10 total pressures (7 hurries, 3 hits, 0 sacks) and committed just one penalty during the final two months of the season.

Shaq Calhoun’s only pressure allowed was a sack, and he finished with the second-best run blocking grade in the game (Dieter #1).

Adam Pankey’s eight snaps came exclusively in heavy packages (six offensive linemen on the field). Pankey was clean in four pass pro reps, and his four run blocking snaps earned him the highest run-blocking grade on the team (aside from Durham Smythe).

Smythe closed out the year strong as a run blocker. He graded higher than 70 on PFF in that department in three of the final five games with a pair of elite grades.

Mike Gesicki averaged 5.3 yards after the catch, but just 5.0 yards per target.

Devante Parker was nearly unstoppable, largely against the game’s premiere cornerback. Parker caught eight of 11 targets, averaged 4.3 yards after the catch, and averaged 12.5 yards per target. Parker caught seven of nine targets against Stephone Gilmore for 119 yards and five first downs. Gilmore entered Sunday allowing just 6.5 yards per target, Parker got him for 13.2 YPT.

J.C. Jackson emerged as one of the game’s premier slot corners this season, but that meant nothing to Isaiah Ford. Ford caught four of five targets against Jackson, three of which moved the chains.

Ryan Fitzpatrick came up aces in every possible category. His 75.3 passer rating while under pressure was his low-mark. He hit a 112.3 passer rating when not pressured, and a 92.0 rating against the blitz. He completed 3-of-7 passes beyond 20 yards for 76 yards. His 99.6 total passer rating and 7.8 yards per pass were the third highest marks against New England this season (Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson).

Once again, Patrick Laird averaged the fewest yards after contact (1.9 Sunday). Samaje Perine finished with a 3.2 average, and Fitzpatrick landed at 3.0 on his scrambles. Two of Laird’s 11 runs moved the chains.

Defense:

Snap Counts:

Player Snaps (% of Offensive Snaps)
DL Christian Wilkins 43 (70.5%)
DL Davon Godchaux 36 (59.0%)
DL John Jenkins 28 (45.9%)
DL Zach Sieler 12 (17.6%)
DL Charles Harris 9 (14.8%)
DL Avery Moss 2 (3.3%)
LB Jerome Baker 61 (100%)
LB Andrew Van Ginkel 60 (98.4%)
LB Trent Harris 56 (91.8%)
LB Calvin Munson 40 (65.6%)
LB Sam Eguavoen 15 (22.1%)
LB Deon Lacey 1 (1.6%)
DB Nik Needham 61 (100%)
DB Eric Rowe 61 (100%)
DB Adrian Colbert 61 (100%)
DB Tae Hayes 40 (65.6%)
DB Nate Brooks 30 (49.2%)
DB Walt Aikens 28 (45.9%)
DB Montre Hartage 20 (32.8%)
DB Steven Parker 6 (9.8%)
WR Mack Hollins 1 (1.6%) lateral play

 

Christian Wilkins earned PFF’s top grade for Miami. He did it without a pressure on the quarterback, but both of his tackles were run stops. Davon Godchaux made four tackles, all for run stops. John Jenkins had the only pressure from the defensive line (a hurry), but he was the 20th-graded player on the team.

Jerome Baker had the worst grade of all Dolphins defenders. He had one pressure on six pass rush snaps, made seven tackles (one for a run stop), and missed one.

Andrew Van Ginkel had the best day as far as I’m concerned. He ended with seven tackles, four for run stops and two for loss. He hit Brady twice and allowed just four yards receiving.

Tae Hayes arrived in Miami less than two weeks ago. Sunday, he pitched a shutout with no catches on six targets.

Trent Harris filled up the stat sheet with two pressures and the lone sack on Brady. He made five tackles, four for run stops, and missed one. He was tabbed for the coverage on the 38-yard touchdown pass to Elandon Roberts, but that was a team bust.

Eric Rowe finished out his strong season with a big day. He allowed just seven yards receiving and picked off Brady taking it the other way for six.

Chris Grier and Brian Flores Speak, Assistants Fired, and Putting Miami’s 5-4 Finish in Perspective

After an 0-7 start with a point differential of -161 points, the Dolphins and their depleted roster were left for dead. Closing the season over .500 wasn’t enough for a miracle playoff push, but the future is layered in hope because of the path Miami took to find those five victories — two of which were over eventual division champions in the month of December.

There were 198 starts to be had in those nine games. From the chart below, you’ll see that in-season free agent signings/trade acquisitions, along with undrafted rookies, made up 40.9% of Miami’s 198 starts during that time — players that were passed over by every team, left only for Brian Flores’ Fins.

Player Arrival Method Starts Weeks 8-17
Incumbent from 2018 75 starts (37.9%)
In-Season Free Agent Addition 45 starts (22.7%)
Pre-August Free Agent 19 starts (9.6%)
Undrafted Rookie 19 starts (9.6%)
Rookie Draft Pick 17 starts (8.6%)
In-season Trade Acquisition 17 starts (8.6%)
Futures Contract Signing 6 starts (3%)
Total Starts 198 Starts

 

This chart sparks encouragement for a coaching staff that found a way to play winning football with those figures, but it also signals dramatic change. The approach to free agency and roster building was a focal point of the end-of-season presser for Flores and Chris Grier, as they addressed the media on Black Monday.

Both were asked about the offseason approach with the free agent spending cash and bevy of draft picks. In their typical Patriots descendant form, both passed the buck on saying anything of value. Grier and Flores both stated that having the money doesn’t mean you have to spend it, and they emphasized being judicious with the salary cap.

The best quote came from Grier who stated, “we’re going to add a lot of good players.” Expect the roster to see a significant overhaul this winter and spring.

Grier made it clear that the team didn’t have to find the quarterback this year. He also danced around a question that was framed specifically towards Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. The question was about considering injury prone players, and Grier eluded to gathering the information so they can make that decision when the time comes. He also said he expects Ryan Fitzpatrick to be in training camp, along with Josh Rosen, but made it clear that feeling is in regards to today, and they are only concerned with today.

Asked to define the progress about the first year of this massive rebuild, Grier intimated the success of laying the ground work and foundation and how [Flores] excelled in accomplishing that task.

A reporter asked Flores if the assistants will be back — which we learned shortly thereafter that Miami dismissed OC Chad O’Shea, OL Coach Dave Deguglielmo, and Safeties Coach Tony Oden. He declined to answer on the future of Jim Caldwell, and stated that everyone in the organization is being evaluated, even coach Flores himself, “I probably should’ve thrown some more red flags throughout the course of the season,” Flores said with a wry smile.

Flores repeated the importance of adding players with high character. Grier was asked about Flores’ involvement in the roster building through the offseason, to which Grier replied, “He’ll be heavily involved. Brian does a great job of talking about the types of players he wants. With the players we brought in throughout the season. Brian has been very open to working through the roster, waiver wires and claims we’ve been doing. I don’t think it works without the collaboration of working together. He’ll be involved as he has been since day one.”

Flores was asked what pleased him the most about this season, and his answer referred to the team’s mental toughness up against adversity. “Dealing with disappointment or defeat, it either breaks you or makes you stronger. It made us stronger and I’m really proud of that,” Flores said.

The turning point of the season, Flores said, was the Washington game when they re-inserted Fitzpatrick back into the lineup.

The final question dealt with the early morning arrest of injured star Cornerback Xavien Howard. Flores was visibly annoyed by the situation, and only went as far as to say they are still gathering information, even with regards to Howard’s future in Miami.

@WingfieldNFL

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  1. Avatar

    Papapickett

    December 31, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    Cut Howard and he would be signed in 10 minutes. Probably by NE.

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Defensive Backs to Keep An Eye On

Kevin Dern

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Picking up from where we left off after the 7 Names for the Defensive Front 7 the Dolphins secondary figures to receive a bit of a makeover as well over the next year or two.  While it doesn’t possess as many holes as the front seven, I think Brian Flores will want to address it to get the types of players he needs to execute the Patriots-style defensive I detailed in my deep dive earlier this year.  The plus factor is that the secondary comes with one of the team’s two blue chip players, cornerback Xavien Howard.  If my hunch is correct, Minkah Fitzpatrick seems like the leading candidate to assume the Devin McCourty role and become the second blue chip player in the defensive backfield in short order.

Bobby McCain should return to the slot exclusively this season, barring injuries to others, and his play should go back to the level he was at in 2017, though he might see fewer snaps given the propensity of the defense to use safeties as slot defenders – more on that later.

In addition to Howard, Fitzpatrick and McCain, Miami have Eric Rowe who has played in this defense the last three years.  He’s versatile, having played both cornerback and safety, but he’s played in just 21 of 48 games over that span.  Bear that in mind.  Cordrea Tankersley, whom many forget was very good as a rookie, should fit better in this defense than he did in Matt Burke’s, but the “if” with him is his injury recovery and when he’ll be available.  The corner spot after Tankersley is a collection of guys with limited experience, but with other needs Miami may be inclined to roll with that group in 2019.

The safety position is another matter.  While there are certain aspects of the defense that will suit Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald, I think it’s relatively easy to look at those guys and see that they likely aren’t great fits for what Miami will want to do.  Contractual situations may have a hand in keeping both around longer than the coaching staff may like.  Because of that, I do wonder if it would preclude Miami from drafting a safety like Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram, my favorite safety in the draft, because his role would likely be like both Jones and McDonald.

What I think Miami will be on the lookout for, given the sheer number of needs in the front seven, are guys that can play middle of the field (MOF) safety, as well as some split safety.  I think the most important thing for Miami is finding this player, so they have the flexibility to use Minkah Fitzpatrick in different situations like the Patriots use Devin McCourty.  If the Dolphins trade back and acquire multiple picks, they may view themselves as having enough currency to address the strong safety spot as well.  This would likely assume that they’re able to move on from Jones and/or McDonald during or after the Draft.

So, if the Dolphins are wont to make changes, here are some prospects I think they will consider.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – Safety – Florida #23
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson looks the part of someone that Miami will be onto in this year’s Draft.  As a sophomore in 2017, CGJ played more true free safety looks.  In 2018, you’ll see a lot more of him in the slot.  Position versatility is something this staff will like.  Let’s take a look at some of the things they ought to like about him.

1) Range – In this clip from 2017 against Florida State CGJ is lined up out of the shot as the play starts.  As the play develops, you’ll see him cover from the hash to outside the numbers against a corner route and separate ball from man.

https://youtu.be/IjZGe7Ty0ug?t=31

Here’s another example of it from Florida’s Peach Bowl win over Michigan.  In this clip, CJG starts out as a slot defender and peels back off the deep over route to undercut the backside post route and get a pick.

https://youtu.be/FqZmzSy0eeI?t=205

2)  Play Recognition – Play recognition can be hit-or-miss with CGJ at times.  I’m not sure if it’s more a coaching issue at Florida or he’s a beat slow to click and close on some plays, but when he gets it right it often leads to success on the play.  Here against Tennessee the Vols will run a bubble screen with the back behind the line of scrimmage.  CGJ is able to read the play, defeat his block and notches a TFL.

https://youtu.be/FqZmzSy0eeI?t=50

You can see another example of the same type of recognition on a similar play against LSU.

https://youtu.be/FqZmzSy0eeI?t=70

3) Open-field tackling – Not every defensive back excels at tackling in space.  But with CGJ, it’s pretty solid, and having played some slot, which puts you in space, will have served him well.  In this rep against Georgia on a 3rd & Goal, CGJ is lined up as the backside safety.  He’s able to close and stop Deandre Swift on the draw play and save a TD with a nice open-field tackle.

https://youtu.be/FqZmzSy0eeI?t=122

CGJ does it again here against Missouri QB Drew Lock.  What’s impressive is that he runs around the block instead of playing through it and takes an inside angle but is still able to track down Lock.

https://youtu.be/FqZmzSy0eeI?t=139

Quick Summary – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is a 2nd round pick through and through.  There are traits that are there to work with, but he’s not quite there yet.  As I mentioned, there are times when he’s a beat late in coverage or recognizing the play.  There are plays where he’ll run himself into blocks or away from contact, but when he gets it right, he gets it right.

 Amani Hooker – Safety – Iowa #27
Next we move to the B1G and Iowa safety Amani Hooker.  He’s built and plays a very similar to role to Florida’s Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and that’s why I think Miami might be onto him.  He has experience in playing as a free safety and in the slot, like CGJ, but might possess better play recognition.

1) Recognition & Click-and-close – In this rep against Iowa State, Hooker is lined up as a split safety.  He reads the power play and flies up in run support.  Yes, David Montgomery is able to spin away from his tackle somewhat, but the recognition and hit by Hooker allows his teammate to clean up the play for a gain of just a yard.

https://youtu.be/8R4fAG-zapE?t=23

Just for fun, he does it again the very next play and helps get in on the tackle.  https://youtu.be/8R4fAG-zapE?t=32

Here, against Northern Illinois, Hooker is able to use his eyes and recognizes a second dig route and gets himself a pick.  The Huskies are lined up with formation to the left with Iowa in zone.  Hooker smartly passes the seam route along to a deep safety and comes across with the first dig route, but the QB never triggers.  Hooker reads the QB’s eyes and drifts back to the deeper dig route and snatches a pick.

https://youtu.be/fdut1RW8cK4?t=2

2)  Run support – A bit later in the Northern Illinois game, Hooker will show his ability to support the run off the edge.  Lined up as a strong safety against a double TE look, Hooker is responsible for the edge and times his run blitz well.  He makes sure to honor the jet sweep motion and comes down hard to make the stop for what should have been a safety.

https://youtu.be/fdut1RW8cK4?t=20

Against Illinois, Hooker will make a nice play against the option.  Here he’s lined up as a slot safety.  He reads the play, defeats the block and makes a TFL, and he does it like it’s shown in the textbook.

https://youtu.be/fdut1RW8cK4?t=196

3) Coverage Recognition – In this rep against Maryland, Hooker drops deep in a Cover 2 Zone look, reads the QB (who apparently didn’t watch his film on throwing a corner route against Hooker) and gets a INT.

https://youtu.be/fdut1RW8cK4?t=122

Against the Purdue, Hooker is the slot defender on this rep.  Here he’s able to meet the receiver at the top of the stem, read the skinny post and undercuts it for another interception.

https://youtu.be/fdut1RW8cK4?t=138

Quick Summary – If you could fuse Amani Hooker’s recognition and instincts with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson’s athletic ability, you’d have a helluva safety.  But make no mistake, Hooker can ball.  His lack of elite speed and athleticism will have to be considered – you can gameplan around that on defense – but he’s got a role as an all-around safety who is smart and physical.

Mike Edwards – Safety – Kentucky #7
The Miami Dolphins signed a free agent from my hometown of Cincinnati already this season (Tank Carradine, Taft High School).  If they were to draft Mike Edwards (Winton Woods High School) they’d have another Cincinnatian.  Edwards is smaller than both CGJ and Amani Hooker, but played in a similar role for the Wildcats.  He’s met with Miami leading up to the Draft, so let’s see why the Dolphins may like him.

1) Tackling – Despite his 5’10” 205lbs frame, Edwards is a very good tackler.  On this rep against the Florida Gators, he’s lined up in the slot, almost playing as a linebacker, and he’s responsible for the hook zone.  No one enters, so he reads the quarterback and finds the Texas route being run by Jordan Scarlett.  Yes, Scarlett drops the pass, but Edwards’ recognition causes that and Edwards still delivers a nice pop.

https://youtu.be/S-jf0xlrd50?t=199

In this play, Edwards is lined up on the edge, much like how the Patriots have used Patrick Chung.  In effect, he’s almost playing SAM LB on this rep because of his alignment.  That’s interesting to note.  Texas A&M runs a power toss play.  Edwards simply blows past everyone and stuffs Trayveon Williams for a 4 yard loss.

https://youtu.be/M7-0ljrNXHc?t=8

2) Versatility – Edwards also has reps as a FS for the Wildcats.  I wanted to show an example of him switching roles in-game.  This play is on the same drive as his TFL against the Aggies.  Here he rotates from a MOF safety in single-high to a split safety.  No one attacks the seam or deep middle, so he’s free and comes up in support of the quarterback scrambling.  He doesn’t make a play here, but I think it’s worth pointing out he’s assignment sound as both a safety and as a slot defender.

https://youtu.be/M7-0ljrNXHc?t=23

In this rep against Georgia Edwards is lined up as a split safety.  Here you can see him support the run as he comes up to assist on a tackle of Elijah Holyfield in a goal-to-go situation.  I like his feistiness to come up and try and deliver a hit here.  Not every safety will do that, especially those that are undersized.

https://youtu.be/FxmRjbQVHIg?t=17

3) Ball awareness – Edwards has 10 interceptions to his name as a member of the Wildcats and one of the main reasons for that is his ability to get around the football.  Here against Tennessee as a deep safety he’s able to track the deep ball, time his jump against a bigger receiver and break up the pass.

https://youtu.be/UIwK3I5yNg0?t=336

Edwards does it again in this example on a deep ball from Jake Fromm against Georgia knocking this ball away from the 6’2” Jeremiah Holloman on the post route.

https://youtu.be/ojNHQXlo9FE?t=48

Sometimes is just better to have great reflexes.  Edwards grabs this pick-6 off a deflection.  There are two other interceptions that Edwards nabbed in his career off deflections.

https://youtu.be/ojNHQXlo9FE?t=32

Quick Summary – As we know, Miami’s got a lot of needs in the defensive front seven and pretty much every offensive line position other than Laremy Tunsil ought to be set in pencil at this point.  So, if that’s the case and Miami pushes finding a safety back a round or two, Mike Edwards would be a guy I’d love to nab in round 4 or 5, if he’s there.  His versatility and tackling ability are things that stand out and will be needed in this defense.  I also like the fact he’s shown to be comfortable adjusting his role mid-game.  That is something that will likely be required in Miami’s new defense, especially with he skills of Minkah Fitzpatrick and a talented slot corner in Bobby McCain on the roster.  If Miami drafted Edwards, he should be able to carve out a nice role as a 3rd safety playing MOF duties or as another slot defender who is capable of blitzing.  He’s got a lot to like.

Miami may not be strictly in the business of finding a safety in this Draft either.  They’ve looked at a slew of corners up and down the Draft.  I had planned on doing prospect write-ups on a pair of corners, just like the safeties above.  The two guys I was planning on were Ka’dar Hollman of Toledo and Donnie Lewis Jr. of Tulane, but to be honest, there’s really not much available film to breakdown on them.  So, rather than showing a clip or two of each, I’ve got something else.  For the past few Drafts I’ve done a breakdown of the players the Dolphins have met with leading up to the Draft and tracked “Official 30 Visits”.

So, with that in mind, here are a list of the corners and safeties Miami have met with.  Keep in mind, these are just players that I’ve been able to confirm.

Cornerbacks
Deandre Baker – Georgia
Greedy Williams – LSU
Byron Murphy – Washington
Rock Ya-Sin – Temple
Julian Love – Notre Dame
Trayvon Mullen – Clemson (30 visit)
Jamel Dean – Auburn (30 visit)
Isaiah Johnson – Houston
Sean Bunting – Central Michigan
Derrick Baity – Kentucky
Jimmy Moreland – James Madison (30 visit)
Blace Brown – Troy
Ka’dar Hollman – Toledo (30 visit)
Montre Hartage – Northwestern
Donnie Lewis Jr. – Tulane (30 visit)
Xavier Crawford – Central Michigan
Jhavonte Dean – Miami
Rishard Causey – UCF
Derrek Thomas – Baylor

Safeties
Juan Thornhill – Virginia
Jaquan Johnson – Miami
Mike Edwards – Kentucky
Sheldrick Redwine – Miami
Corrion Ballard – Utah
Tyree Kinnel – Michigan
John Battle – LSU
Robbie Grimsley – North Dakota State

Again, Miami may very well (and hopefully has) met with multiple other players at the safety position.  But I would expect that Miami comes out of the Draft with at least 2 DBs.

Lastly, to close this one out, I mentioned this on the podcast and on Twitter, but I’ve been able to get myself more free time to write so please stay tuned for me pieces from me in the future.

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What an Ideal Draft for the Miami Dolphins Would Look Like

Gabe Hauari

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Get ready Dolfans, the 2019 NFL Draft is less than a month away.

While there hasn’t been much to get excited about in terms of free agent additions for Miami, the draft will be Chris Grier and Brian Flores’ first chance to put their stamp on the roster.

This draft will be huge in turning around the fortunes of the franchise, as it looks unlikely the Dolphins find their franchise quarterback and instead look to fortify the rest of the roster.

I put on my GM cap and went to work on drafting for the Dolphins using The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator. Since the simulator does not allow you to trade picks, we will assume the Dolphins pick only where they are currently slated.

Here’s how it turned out:

Round 1, pick 13 — Ed Oliver, iDL, Houston

With Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins off the board, I went best player available at a position of need and took Ed Oliver. With the defense transforming to a more hybrid look, Oliver will be the perfect chess piece for Brian Flores and Patrick Graham to move around and find the best matchups for. He is a freak athlete for someone his size and, in my opinion, easily a top 10 player in this year’s class.

Round 2, pick 48 — Erik McCoy, iOL, Texas A&M 

The offensive line is one of the biggest positions of need for Miami this offseason, especially after cutting Josh Sitton and losing Ja’Wuan James to Denver. Signing Chris Reed was a solid move, but the Dolphins would be wise to invest an early pick on an interior lineman. McCoy can come in immediately and start at left guard, and depending on how Daniel Kilgore plays next season, could eventually take over at center. With this pick, the Dolphins starting offensive line from left to right next season would be:

Left tackle – Laremy Tunsil

Left guard – Erik McCoy

Center – Daniel Kilgore

Right guard – Chris Reed

Right tackle – Jesse Davis

Round 3, pick 78 – Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia 

The Dolphins need to add bodies to their secondary if they want to emulate what the Patriots did under Brian Flores, and Thornhill in the third round is a tremendous value. Pairing him with Minkah Fitzpatrick gives you a young and talented safety tandem to build your secondary around. If the Dolphins are then able to extend Xavien Howard, the future of the secondary would look incredibly bright.

Round 4, pick 118 – Michael Jackson, CB, Miami

Again, Miami needs to continue to add bodies to their secondary, and Michael Jackson fits the mold for what this regime likes in their cornerbacks. Adding Eric Rowe was a solid move, but he is a bit injury prone and on a one-year deal. Jackson is a long and physical corner who could benefit from some refinement of his technique. Give him to new defensive pass game coordinator/cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer for a season or two and watch him develop.

Side note: No I did not forget about Cordrea Tankersley, Jalen Davis, Cornell Armstrong or Torry McTyer in this mock draft. You can really never have too many good players in your secondary, especially when your division opponents include Tom Brady, Sam Darnold and Josh Allen. Plus, competition is a good thing and should bring out the best in each of these young players.

Round 5, pick 151 – Jalen Jelks, EDGE, Oregon 

Jelks is an athletic and versatile edge player who needs to refine his technique. He represents good value in the fifth round because he can line up all over the formation and still has room for improvement. His speciality right now is his run defense, which is something the Dolphins have struggled to do for a long time now. Once he develops a pass rush plan, Jelks has the potential to become a solid contributor down the line.

Round 7, pick 233 – Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor

Hurd is extremely raw after playing running back for a majority of his career, but he has good hands and can make plays with the ball in his hands. He will need to be taught the finer points of the receiver position (route running, stance, releases, etc.), but he is worthy of a late round flier, especially with Chad O’Shea’s background as a wide receivers coach.

Round 7, pick 234 – Terrill Hanks, LB, New Mexico State

The Dolphins have two building blocks at linebacker in Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker, but they need to find a third linebacker to complete that unit. It remains to be seen how Kiko Alonso will fit into this defense, or if he’ll even fit at all, so it would be wise to take a late round flier on a player with some upside. Hanks has the size and athletic ability to eventually contribute, but he must work on his technique and on the mental side of the game to ever earn starting snaps.

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