By: Tanner Elliott
6’1” 185 lbs.
University of Georgia
Eric Stokes is a natural athlete, and you can see it almost every play. His coverage isn’t the greatest, but he makes up for it by being a great athlete. There were times when Stokes got beat, but either broke up the pass or got an interception because his athleticism kept him in the play. His ball skills are also some of the best in the draft. He has the ability to read the quarterback's eyes and jump a route or get a hand in between the receivers to break up the pass. Stokes is a great play-maker who can change the momentum of the game at any time. He can block kicks, get interceptions, or even rush the passer on a corner blitz.
Stokes isn’t bad in coverage, but he isn’t the best, either. He allows an inside release too often, over pursues receivers, and sometimes shies away from his man to try to make a play on the ball. Most of these are covered up due to his athleticism, but when he faces NFL receivers, his athleticism won’t always cover him. His coverage skills being so not-very-technical, go hand-in-hand with him being such a raw prospect. He has very poor technique that could cause a lot of penalties in the NFL, as well as a lot of blown coverages. This is fixable but will cause some growing pains during the start of his career.
Eric Stokes has all the tools to be a good NFL corner, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a team moved him to safety. His frame is a bit small to play safety currently, but if he is able to put more weight on, he could evolve into a starting caliber NFL safety. His draft stock rose significantly after running a 4.25 40-yard dash during his pro day. I expect Stokes to go in the second round, but he could go in the back end of the first round much like Noah Igbinoghene did last year.
By: Shawn Williams
Widely recognized as the “Heart and Soul” of the University of Georgia defense, Richard LeCounte was a fan and team favorite over the past four seasons. His motor, leadership, and ability to quarterback the secondary from the Safety position was a major reason the Bulldogs boasted a formidable defensive unit in the SEC.
Midway through his senior season, LeCounte was involved in a scary motorbike accident that ended his college career prematurely. Fortunately, he didn’t suffer any major injuries, and is well on his way to a full recovery. In his absence, the Georgia defense wasn’t the same - this goes to show how much of an impact he made as one of the nation’s best Safeties.
His accident has certainly come up in pre-draft interviews, and he’s been honest in recollection of what took place. He did take part in UGA’s Pro Day, but his numbers were less than expected, with a 4.78 40 time. With what LeCounte has proved on film, it should be understood why his numbers aren’t where they need to be as he continues to rehab his injuries.
for what teams will see in LeCounte’s game tape, it will be evidence of an elite and special player. His instincts and ability to track the ball led to big time turnovers, like his clutch two-interception game against Baylor in the 2019 Sugar Bowl (4 INTs in 6 games in 2020). LeCounte possesses above average man coverage skills for a college safety, and has incredibly quick closing and recovery speed.
The UGA product is a determined tackler (and not afraid of contact), but often struggles due to his lack of size and strength, leading to broken tackles and missed opportunities. It remains to be seen if adding weight takes away from the quickness that makes him so dangerous in coverage.
LeCounte definitely has the intangibles and ball skills to become a starting coverage safety in the NFL, but will likely assume a rotational role early on. He should hear his name called anywhere between third to fifth rounds on draft night.
By: Shawn Williams
This University of Houston Senior is the “prototype” for an NFL Defensive End. At 6’6 and 270 pounds, his body is NFL ready. His game may not quite be there yet.
After suffering an injury as a Senior in High School, he wasn’t heavily recruited, but did land himself at D1 Houston. He arrived at 215 pounds but shot up to nearly 300 before settling in the 270 range. He was also moved around a lot, keeping him from settling and growing at a specific position.
Turner does have a lot to love with his size, length, never ending motor, and ability to defend the run or rush the passer, which will likely place him in the early middle rounds of the draft. No matter where he lands, he should be able to receive the stability and coaching he needs to refine his technique, and stance (he often struggled with his first few steps off the line in college).
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For all of you Fin Fans, Turner looks a lot like another player that needed a couple years to develop; Emmanuel Ogbah. Turner is probably going to be best suited as a 4-3 DE, but does have the versatility to play the 5-technique if needed.
Hussam Patel and Brandon Liguori welcome fellow PhinManiac, Shawn Williams, who has recently debuted his very own podcast with Chip Turner, "The Outsiders!"
Shawn talks about his recent articles in a terrific talk about the evolution of the game, and Miami is leading the way for the next phase.
Hussam and Brandon drop their normal scouting prowess in the latest addition of the PhinManiacs Scouting Combine!
By: Shawn Williams
There may not be anyone who used the 2021 Senior Bowl to boost their draft stock more than Wake Forest Demon Deacon Carlos “Boogie” Basham, Jr. He impressed with his versatility, playing multiple positions on the line, and consistently won match-ups against his opposition. Scouts and coaches gave high praise by week’s end, but that shouldn’t surprise anybody.
Basham was a model of consistency at WF, holding the longest active streak for most consecutive games with a Tackle for a Loss at a whopping twenty-three (the only player in double digits when the streak came to an end)! He also tallied a sack in each of the team’s first five games. Basham was considered an NFL prospect as a junior, before deciding to return for his red-shirt senior year.
Carlos Basham uses brute power, a high motor, violent stye, and sound techniques to consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks. Besides his natural LE/4-3 Scheme position, he also serves well rushing the interior on passing downs. He has solid ability to contain the outside, while taking smart angles to the quarterback.
Basham could improve his quickness by becoming a bit leaner and will need coaching to elevate his counter moves off initial contact. He does play a bit heavy footed and can struggle to come off run blocks, all of which can be corrected at the next level.
Carlos should find himself taken off the board in the late first or second round. For Dolphin fans, he may remind of the recently departed Shaq Lawson, with a bit of Emmanuel Ogbah mixed in. The 6’5, 274 pound lineman measured in well at his Pro Day with a forty time of 4.64, 34’ vertical, 10’2 broad jump, 7.13 3-cone, and 20 bench reps.
By: Jason Sarney
We are officially two weeks away from Day One of the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland, Ohio. Mock drafts have been circulating, we’ve all been critiquing them, and everybody has searching for inside information prior to the draft to get a sense of what their team is thinking.
Looking back on one of the last things coach Brian Flores said when discussing the Miami Dolphins draft plans, he quoted a Rolling Stones song by saying “You can’t always get what you want.”
When we dissect that line, we all can speculate that what Coach Flores always wants is more defensive backs, similar to Jerry Seinfeld’s obsession with luxury cars. Sure, they already have a garage full of them, but when a decently priced one comes available, sometimes they just can't help themselves.
That may be Day Two for Flores, shopping for other items with his partner in crime, general manager Chris Grier. Like a kid in the toy area of Target while their parent needs household items, coach Flo could very easily “pound his fist on the desk” for at least one major “want,” not entirely unlike a five-year-old holding his breath until their parent gives in and gets the $4.99 Roblox toy.
(Note: This never happens to me)
A young cornerback pupil to mold in say the pick 50-81 range could make Flores as happy as a kid in a candy store, or a defensive back mastermind with another chess piece in his collection. With due diligence being done (as any person in this world is attempting this time of year), I have heard that a cornerback is certainly a possibility Day 2 for Miami.
In figuring out who those prospects are, I’m merely speculating, but it makes sense to utilize the knowledge of one’s personnel - team coaches and scouts. Flores’s defensive backs coach, Gerald Alexander, is just a few seasons removed from coaching at California, so there are likely heavy connections in his network in the PAC-12. In looking at Day 2 corners, a few come to mind as those who would do well with a coaching pair of Alexander and Flores.
In a season where coaches and scouts aren’t in combines and meetings as per previous normal years, due to the lingering Covid-19’s presence, networking and information through ready-made contacts could be a coach’s best friend this off-season.
I think Miami has their eye on corners that won’t cost a pick price of #6, #18 or #36. After that, the analogy goes back to the kid in the toy aisle whose parent just took a wrong turn; just give the kid what he wants.
Here are my PAC-12 guys to circle after I did some digging this week:
Paulson Adebo of Stanford has good size at 6’1”, smarts and ability to play in any system, and those traits put him in coach Flores’s wheelhouse. Mixed with coach Alexander being the California defensive backs coach from 2017-2019, it’s a solid bet there is decent knowledge of Pac-12 corners in that span.
Adebo had very productive seasons in 2018 and 2019 for Stanford, picking off three passes in each. He also recorded 27 passes defended, with 17 in his sophomore year. Adebo missed three games at the close of the 2019 season, and opted out of the 2020 season, so he’s a perfect under-the-radar draft target for this front office.
Pulling even further on the coach-Alexander-network-thread reveals Washington Husky corner Elijah Molden. Molden is a fun study, as he’s also a bit under-hyped, coming off a four-game 2020. In 2019, he led the Huskies team in both interceptions (4) and pass breakups (12). He was a 2020 All Pac-12 player and a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is equivalent to the Academic Heisman trophy. The Dolphins already have a Campbell Trophy winner on the team in Christian Wilkins has; so Molden is a perfect Flores-type guy. He’d be perfect for this front office.
Molden is a classic prospect for this Miami regime being versatile; he’s highly football intelligent and has the DNA of a professional football player (he’s the son of former NFL defensive back Alex Molden), continuing the pedigree of a few of the top-tier corners in this draft like Patrick Surtain II, Jaycee Horn and Asante Samuel, Jr.
Lastly but not least is Oregon corner, Thomas Graham, Jr. at 5’11” and 196 lbs. Like Adebo, he opted out of 2020, so one could call him “fresh as can be” heading into a training camp. A ball-hawk who picked off a career eight passes in three seasons, while breaking up 32, he could be a terrific depth addition to an NFL group.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of listening to Zoom media meetings was how the defensive backs trained this past summer in Miami; it was amazing how clearly coach Alexander preached competition and turnover creation.
There was even a divided room in a creation of a turnover battle, so these three smart, savvy and shiftable cornerbacks are all candidates to be Miami selections, should Flores win the suits over. One of them could be a Top-81 pick for Miami, coach Flo goes home with a new toy…and the office gets back to business.
Everyone wins, and let’s not forget the rest of that Rolling Stones lyric: “But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”
Chip Tuner and Shawn Williams are a pair of extremely knowledgable and passionate out-of-town "Outsiders."
Although not living in Miami, these northeasterners love them so Fins Football. They talk draft mainly, as they will both represent PhinManiacs in Cleveland, Ohio for the NFL Draft in just two short weeks!
By: Carter Melrose
Before we start, let's make this one thing crystal clear: you, me, Mel Kiper, Warren Buffet - nobody knows which prospects will boom or bust. We all just flex our tongues and spout out grandiose guesses for all to hear.
George Santayana once said this overused but underappreciated quote:
"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
History is our only tangible connection to the future.
So, in efforts not to repeat history, the Miami Dolphins should be very wary of drafting a wide receiver in the 1st round.
Now you are wondering, Carter does history really tell us that? And my answer is ‘it depends’. I scoured through all of the wide receivers drafted in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd round from 2011-2020 (10 years) (which took me hours to do) and here are the data points I decided to highlight:
Let's break this conversation down into 4 separate conversations points:
1. Yards Per Game
This is where the 1st round picks stand out as the obvious alpha dogs. And when comparing a 1st round wideout to a 3rd rounder, the stats even get more skewed and obnoxiously apparent. Though, I have a theory to write-off this discrepancy. 1st round talent, however disappointing in camp, get snaps - and not only snaps, they often get plays specifically engineered to get them the ball. This is because of the overall value the team has pumped into this player; both in compensation and draft capital. Sitting a disappointing 1st round pick on the bench admits to the media, plain and clear: I messed up drafting John Ross (for example), and I am just as clueless as the rest of the world. This low-balls a coach's ego; something most alpha-male coaches would rather die than endure.
2. Receptions Per Game
This conversation is a dull one and mirrors the YPG discussion from moments ago. Let's get to something much juicier:
3. Touchdowns Per Game
Jarvis ‘Juice’ Landry is one of my favorite Dolphin’s of all time. And even that won’t stop me from spraying vitriol all over his reputation. In his best two seasons with Miami, Juice was able to snag a historic 204 receptions. Problem was? He was clearly incapable of being a number 1 wide receiver and unable to produce the one stat that could ever make him one; touchdowns. Over those two seasons, Juice had a laughable 8 touchdowns (scoring a touchdown every 25.5 times he touched the football).
I know, I know, Juice was a 2nd round pick - but that's not even my point. My real intentions were to set the precedent that touchdowns are the most important statistic in all of football. And when comparing 1st rounders to 2nd rounders in this crucial category? There is almost no visible or comprehensible deviation. Zero point one is the tiny variance that separates a 1st round and 2nd round wideout when it comes to the most important stat in football.
Zero point one.
4. Pro Bowlers
This is where the argument will turn some heads.
In the past 10 years, the 1st round has only produced 7 Pro Bowl caliber wide receivers.
The 2nd round?
Almost double, at 13.
To be fair, a couple of these 2nd rounders are special teams based Pro Bowlers - and to be even more fair, some of these 1st rounders are elite border-line hall of fame players. Players like Julio Jones and AJ Green who, since their rookie year, have been a Pro Bowl staple. However, my argument remains potent: unless you are drafting a generational talent, your wide receiver has a much worse probability to make the Pro Bowl comparably to 2nd rounders.
Jaw dropping, right?
Don’t DM me hate. I, too, like Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle - they seem very talented and maybe even special. My goal with this article is to put a little fear into the draft equation. Many believe the Dolphins could draft Smith, Waddle, Chase, or Bateman and none of them even have a small chance of busting.
Odds are? One of these guys will be a total disappointment.
Odds are? Not even one of them will ever be a Pro Bowler.
Humble yourself Dolphin’s Nation. Humble yourself enough to learn from history and from the statistics that connect us to history.
By: Shawn Williams
This University of Michigan (RS) Junior is as explosive a prospect as anyone in the 2021 NFL Draft class. Cam McGrone’s high motor and game speed made him a forcible defender for “The Big Blue.”
Michigan employed a blitz-heavy scheme, and McGrone’s instinctive play, vision, and processing speed continually allowed him to find open rush and pass lanes, hit them quickly, and make big plays in the backfield. He showed excellent pursuit skills and the ability to track the opposing quarterback and runners. McGrone is a very technically sound tackler who often wraps up and tackles at the legs. He shouldn’t be the cause of many missed tackles in the NFL.
Cam played Middle Linebacker for Michigan, but is a bit undersized (6 ft, 234 lbs.) for that role at the next level. Despite his lighter build, he does have good core strength, but could struggle shedding bigger, stronger linemen in the NFL.
McGrone, unfortunately, has a small sample size for NFL Scouts and GMs to study. The Wolverines have served as a Linebacker/EDGE pipeline to the NFL recently, with players like Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, Josh Uche, Chase Winovich and Khaleke Hudson, so his opportunity to hit the field didn’t come quickly. He didn’t start playing until his (RS) Sophomore season and opted out after 5 games last year to rehab a minor injury and prepare for the draft.
McGrone’s best fit will likely be a team that runs a blitz-heavy scheme like he did in college (and like Brian Flores’ unit in Miami). He may not be able to serve as a 4-3 MIKE, but could thrive playing ILB in a 3-4, or a 4-3 WILL. He participated in Michigan’s Pro Day, but didn’t take part in most drills. He did put up 20 reps and got measured with a 77-3/4” wingspan and 9-2/3” hand size.
Cam McGrone should find himself off the board on Day 2 of the draft.
By: Shawn Williams
If you’re an NFL Linebackers coach, and your unit is missing speed on the edge, look no further than Northern Iowa product Elerson Smith.
Smith has jaunting measurables for an edge player (4.69 40/7-second 3-cone/10’7 broad jump/41.5” vertical/83” wingspan). It’s no surprise that his speed, length, and quick twitch game led to 63 tackles (21 for a loss), 14.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 4 pass deflections in 2019 (UNI did not play in 2020). He is athletic, has great hand technique, bend, plays with a high energy, and has solid upside.
Elerson Smith measures in at 6’6 and 262 pounds, passing the eye test on paper for an NFL OLB. For the size and speed, he boasts, he does lack the strength needed to win matchups in the NFL. Smith can be inconsistent coming off the line and needs coaching to better his overall technique and pass rush moves. Smith has also shown to struggle defending the run. Until he gets stronger, he’s likely to play a situational “pass rush” role on defense, while contributing on Special Teams.
Despite not playing in 2020, Elerson was impressive in the Senior Bowl, making numerous “wow” plays each day. He was put through drills at DE and OLB. The UNI rusher projects as a Day 2 or 3 guy and is likely to be drafted to a team that plays in a 3-4 scheme.
By: Jason Sarney
There's about two weeks to go until the NFL draft kicks off live from Cleveland, Ohio. In the world of social media and Dolphins Twitter mock drafts, the speculation has been running rampant, and the same has been going on with fan bases across the Twitter-verse. Luckily, I was invited to participate in an awesome concept with an outstanding collection of fantasy football industry writers and experts in a live-streaming mock-draft, tracked on Twitter and YouTube.
In representing the Dolphins, there is excitement to go through a live, human-based mock draft with representatives close to each fan base with intimate knowledge of what those teams "may be" thinking, hoping or insinuating through rumors and smoke signals.
Getting settled in with my coffee Monday morning and opening up the live Google Doc, I had my pick on my yellow post-it note and took it out of my pocket and placed it on my desk. Kyle Pitts, the only "no-matter-what-pick" I have in my mind in this entire draft. Yet, unfortunately as someone once told me and something I will never ever forget is that “the NFL draft as a living, breathing Organism that changes each and every pick.” There was an immediate wrench thrown into my plan as Pitts was selected by Nick Penticoff in representation of his Atlanta Falcons.
Nick has since been un-followed, blocked and I have reported him to Twitter.
Three quarterbacks went right before Pitts leaving Taylor Cornell representing Cincinnati with the choice of the draft that will ultimately determine my pick, clearly. The Bengals called Ja’Mar Chase’s name, wide receiver from LSU to reunite him with collegiate QB teammate, Joe Burrow. This lead to me having to make a drastic decision of pass-catcher or pass-protector.
The pick was Devonta Smith, wide receiver from Alabama over Penei Sewell of Oregon because there are a number of OL prospects on my board in the next several selections and even rounds I would be considering. Why Smith over Bama teammate, Jaylen Waddle you ask? Well, this is a Ferrari versus a Lamborghini scenario, and all about particular preference and need. A crisp route-runner like Smith is what Miami needs, & lacks. Smith can create the much-needed "separation" Miami pass-targets have not shown lately, and can be utilized in several areas of the field.
Nothing against Jaylen Waddle at all, but Smith is coming off of a Heisman campaign, and statistically, one of the most impressive seasons in college football history in route to a National Championship. He finished his Senior year at Alabama with a ridiculous 117 receptions in 13 games for 1,856 yards and 23 scores. In 8 of his 13 2020 games, he produced multiple touchdowns, and in four occasions scored a hat-trick or more.
For his career, he has 46 touchdowns and a four-year yards per catch mark of 16.9, ncluding his bowl games.
Coupled with Waddle having a slight worry with coming off of an injury, mixed with the special talent Smith is, I am less concerned of Mr. Heisman’s body-frame than others may be. There is little doubt both of these 'Bama Boys succeed wherever they end up, however it is the correct "fit" that could provide which player will have a better potential-career outlook.
After a few surprises as illustrated on the TOP 17 below:
I had a number of direct messages inquire about the 18th pick, as QB Trey Lance was sitting there. Dave Kluge and Chicago came up with a 3rd rounder in addition to moving two spots back to 20, to let them select the North Dakota State signal-caller. There was a good number of players I liked at 18, and a large space in between pick #81 in the 3rd round for Miami until their next pick in the 5th which is selection #156. Chicago played a bit of hardball and asked for the #156 back as well to round the deal out, and that is no reason to pull the plug, so we pulled the trigger.
In obtaining another 3rd rounder while sacrificing a 5th, Najee Harris was still on the board and a perfect selection for the Dolphins to give themselves a dynamic-duo of play-makers to help a familiar face in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Miami now has picks #36, #50, #81 and now #83 to look forward to in this Mock scenario, however…the 1st round was still going and there was a major omission of edge-rushers, so the phone was utilized again and a trade was made with the Packers and Brennen Rupp (@Royal_Rupp).
There was too much of an enticing need and want to jump up from #36, and land a top-end pass-rusher. Also – the fact of making this scenario would mean Miami would have two consecutive years with three 1st-rounders was too good to pass up. And I believe Chris Grier will trade down, up and/or vice versa while playing the way the board shapes up.
The cost of the Mock-deal was Miami sending the #36 and the recently acquired #83 (CHI) from the earlier deal. Miami would jump up to #29, which was used to select Azeez Ojulari from Georgia. In return of giving up that #83 pick, Green Bay sends a pair of 4th-rounders with picks # 135 and #142 to Miami to round the deal out.
Miami now has a pair of 4ths, and entered the draft with none.
So, at the close of the 1st round Miami landed Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, Azeez Ojulari, and has picks #50, #81, #135, #142 and a 7th rounder as assets, as well as all their future year picks and a full roster of players as bargaining chips heading into Day 2.
With the second round underway – more coverage will follow in this #FFTwitterMock.
Miami's 1st round following MOCK TRADES with CHI and GB
Pick #6 Pick # 20 Pick #29
Check out the Fantasy Experts Who are ALL Terrific Follows on Twitter! Names Link to their Accounts!
Thanks to all participating, and ROUND 2 on way!
Benny Ricciardi (@BennyR11)
Jeff Mueller (@JMThrivePT)
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Nate Polvgot (@JeNateJackFF)
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Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge_FF)
Karl Safchick (@KarlSafchick)
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Matt Nein (@mnein9)
LaQuan Jones (@RealDealFantasy)
By: Chip Turner
Tony Fields II – West Virginia
6’0” – 222 pounds
Tony Fields II is a force against the run; he transferred to West Virginia after three years at Arizona, and had an immediate impact on the Mountaineer defense. He reads run plays well, particularly draws and delayed runs; there are plenty of examples of him blowing up run plays as they’re developing behind the line of scrimmage. He’s savvy going up against O-Linemen; he lacks the physicality to shed blockers, but he has enough quickness and lateral agility to keep their hands off him a good amount of the time. While he’s not the strongest tackler, he doesn’t seem to get fooled often, tracking ball carriers through traffic and latching on. While he didn’t have a particularly impressive Pro Day, he turned plenty of heads during Senior Bowl week; he was named top LB on the National Team by his teammates.
Fields will need to get bigger and stronger to contribute in the NFL; when linemen get their hands on him, he’s simply not that effective. While he’s a force against the run, he currently lacks the pass coverage skills to be on the field full-time. In short, he seems to lack the size and speed to be a highly effective run stopper in the NFL, and doesn’t have the coverage skills to be effective as a hybrid safety.
There are NFL players who have intangibles that don’t show up in measurables or draft analysis. Fields is one of those guys. He’s a smart, instinctive kid with a nose for the ball, and he’s good as a chase-down LB against the run. From his measurables, he shouldn’t be as much of a pain in the ass for opposing offenses as he is. He’ll likely be drafted somewhere toward the middle to end of Day Three based on that alone, or even a little higher if someone fell in love with his motor and attitude.
By: Shawn Williams
Football is constantly evolving. To be the last man standing, teams innovate new methods to stand out, and above, the rest. Whether it’s improving equipment by utilizing progressive technologies for player protection or founding an analytics department in hopes to discover statistics and formulas that may outsmart the competition, teams will explore the depths of their imagination to secure creative ways to be the best.
No longer are there simple “Home and Away” uniforms. Pro sports teams now have a myriad of game day wear to attract consumers to their sexy brand apparel. Offensive Coordinators of yesteryear prided themselves on ground and pound strategies, using tiresome run games to set up the pass. Succeeding the extinction of those philosophies was the birth of the strong-armed pocket passer, like Dan Marino, Joe Montana or Troy Aikman. Along came Michael Vick, and the “scrambler” was the hot new toy. The defenses could only do their best to adapt to new penalties that catered to the money-making stars on offense. A high scoring game means more viewers, and that means new T.V. deals. Now owners can lace their pockets with revenue surplus, and the players benefit from increasing salary caps.
Like everything else in history, the game was blessed with brilliant minds to blaze new paths. Bill Parcells, lauded as one the coaching G.O.A.T.s, rose to icon status being widely considered as a football savant.
Known for stubbornly refusing to attend college football’s Senior Bowl, he made the surprising decision to finally attend in 2009, to scout one particular player; West Virginia’s QB Pat White. Parcells interest in the undersized, but athletic, prospect was of course due to the possibility of finding a new style of a running/passing hybrid, in the likes of today’s Kyler Murray, that may be able to revolutionize the game, yet again. He drafted White in the second round of the 2009 draft, unfortunately the vision didn’t become reality, however Bill had the right idea. He was just ahead of his time. Timing is everything.
Bill Belichick, with the help of the Tom Brady, won six Super Bowls by creating unique systems that maximized the potential of players through specified roles. He stayed a step ahead of everyone for two decades. Belichick built a cultural foundation of “team first” so unbreakable, even a prima donna like Randy Moss fell right into place. His utilization of two hyper athletic tight ends (Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) was a matchup nightmare that haunted NFL defenses. His schemes and talent provided an unsolvable algorithm to the rest of the league. Teams countered best they could, copycat programs were built and dismantled seemingly overnight. His knack for finding valuable discarded talent or discarding expired talent at approximately the right time will forever be one of his greatest calling cards. Belichick is a man that can’t be replicated. His enormous coaching tree is vast but littered in fallen branches that couldn’t bear the weight of their mentor. The DNA of “The Patriot Way” just can’t be cloned.
Now, Chiefs HC Andy Reid has tight ends playing wide receiver, and receivers playing running back. Football has evolved into a kerfuffle so chaotic it’s hardly a shade of its former self. The ghosts of legends past must be rolling in their graves.
Enter Brian Flores, a unique mentee of Bill Belichick. Charging into year three of Coach Flo’s tenure in Miami, he has his team on a path of sustained success and has exceeded expectations the two years prior. See, what Flores looks to have discovered, the secret that eluded the Belichick-ians before him, is that success cannot be achieved through duplication, rather it’s anticipatory adaptation and precise innovation.
Teams like the Patriots of yesterday, or the Chiefs of today play a game of mismatches, putting players with versatile skill sets in untraditional positions to put the average, or even above average team in a compromising situation that has become incredibly difficult to outlast.
This, this will be the era of “Position-less Football”.
While much of the NFL has begun to come to this revelation, subtle signs have foreshadowed Flores’ early awareness of the changing winds. In his inaugural season, Flores made waves decimating his team of talent, signing street free agents to pro contracts, and directing veteran players to unfamiliar positions. While most onlookers saw only madness and questioned Miami’s motives so harshly that they accused the team of creating health hazards for their players, there was guided methods buried deep in undertone.
Take ex-Patriot cornerback Eric Rowe. Most opinions felt that Rowe was just a castoff brought in because of his familiarity with Coach Flores. He was really just an afterthought, until he was inserted as one of the team’s starting safeties. Eric Rowe is now considered an NFL “tight end eraser”. Players that have laid victim to him, include two of the best, George Kittle and Travis Kelce.
Undrafted Free Agents (UFAs) and late round draft picks have helped morph Miami’s defense into one of the best in the league. In 2020, Andrew Van Ginkel (5th Rd, 2019) became an invaluable contributor and game changing play-maker, appearing, as an important piece of the defensive unit, almost out of thin air. The year prior it was Vince Biegel’s surprising play. Former seventh round pick Zach Seiler, a Baltimore Ravens reject, was recently rewarded with a multi-year contract after becoming yet another “no-name” guy to play way above anyone’s expectations. To state it simply, Brian Flores, in-tandem with General Manager Chris Grier, have built a playoff contender out of players most people haven’t heard of, by taking an unconventional approach in anticipation to counteract a coming movement in the National Football League. They’ve done it by finding players with certain skill sets, and/or positional versatility, and using them in very specific roles that maximize their potential impact. And they’ve done it in two seasons.
With the structure of a formidable defense in place, Miami has shifted their focus to Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphin offense. Predictably constructing an offense built around the RPO (run-pass-option), the team is starting to add and evaluate players that can fill similar mis-matched positions, much like their defense. Adding WR Will Fuller in free agency gave Miami a top deep threat option to couple with 50-50-ball catchers DeVante Parker and Preston Williams. Lynn Bowden Jr. is a do it all “gadget” player that can operate as a Wildcat quarterback, a running back, or a slot receiver. You can’t even label Mike Gesicki a tight end, as he operates primarily in the slot; a 6’6 receiver-tight end mismatch, that will blow past linebackers and is too big for any cornerback.
It’s rumored that Flores and Grier are hot on University of Florida draft prospect Kyle Pitts, a cyborg version of Gesicki. If you can catch up on, or to, their master plan, you’ll realize he’s another player that doesn’t fit, which is why he’s a perfect fit.
Bill Belichick had something special with Hernandez and Gronk, with a couple slot-style receivers too. But what if you took those two, and added a well-respected home-run threat like Fuller, and a couple of jump-ball kings such as Parker or potentially Williams? Now, with all that, add a dominant, elite-level running back like draft prospect Najee Harris, and you have a never-before-seen offense with infinite potential.
If you comb through this year’s draft class, you’ll be amazed to discover a vast pool of “position-less” players. The incoming linebackers are all much faster, smaller, and versatile than the traditional NFL ‘backer. The new hybrid ‘backer is built to cover, operate explosive blitz packages (like the one Brian Flores utilizes, imagine that), and burst through run gaps to the backfield. Safeties have mutated to fast, athletic, powerful “tight end erasers”. Gone are the days of the savage, head hunting Strong Safety like past Dolphins Reshad Jones, Brock Marion or Yeremiah Bell. Today’s safeties needs to do much more than play deep zone. The new assignments entail going step-for-step with receivers in man coverage while being serviceable run stoppers. The 2021 WR draft class, is populated by fast, shifty route runners, that can play the gadget-game and even offensive lineman are sought for their plug-and-play versatility.
It will be a truly special time for the Dolphin franchise if the foresight of Brian Flores and Chris Grier culminates in the way their minds have envisioned. There’s been no sign or symbol that they’re off to anything other than a great start. They’ve caught the league by surprise twice so far, and if MY foresight is leading me much in the way of theirs, I believe the 2021 Miami Dolphins will be a grand unveiling to the rest of the NFL as a model for what their teams should’ve already looked like. My piece of advice for them is, if they’re smart, I wouldn’t try to copy them.
By: Jason Sarney
It hasn't been a full day since Preston Williams posted a workout picture on his Twitter account, but in the hours since hitting the social media waves, excitement has started to resonate within the Miami Dolphin fan base. Perhaps one of the more talented yet polarizing players on the young Dolphins roster, Williams is 24-years old but coming off his second season-ending injury in as many seasons.
His 2019 rookie season was halted by an ACL injury on a questionable decision to have him return a punt and his injury against the Arizona Cardinals last season is a matter of some conjecture of its cause. The injury seemed to occur on an awkward tackle to his foot, while scoring a touchdown, followed by what many believed could have been caused by celebration after a teammate landed on that same foot.
While the details of the exact extent of how he was injured still up in the air, there is hope Williams can put together a full season in his third year in the league. Williams has played in 16 games in his two seasons, so we have basically a full year’s worth of games to use as a sample size when looking at potential. Before the stats, Williams was playing as a UDFA on a winless team before being a key-factor in their first 2019 victory against the New York Jets, the team he got himself hurt on that punt return. He also caught a pair of touchdowns that day. He also played with Josh Rosen and Ryan Fitzpatrick flip-flopping at quarterback behind the league’s worst offensive line to start his career.
In his highly anticipated sophomore season, Williams was not utilized as much as many would have liked to see and did still suffer the occasional drop. He seemed to have a terrific rapport with Tua Tagovailoa once named starting quarterback, and that was evident especially in the Arizona game prior to that injury.
Statistically, Williams has 16 games, 50 receptions, 716 yards and 7 touchdowns. Solid not spectacular, sure. Yet when looking at his contracted value of less than $900,000 he has already performed above his cost as an undrafted player as he heads into a make or move-on season essentially for him and Miami.
The Dolphins have a now crowded receiver room, especially with the addition of free agent Will Fuller and rumors of even more coming in the upcoming NFL Draft. Williams is an outside receiver mainly with ability to play in other areas who again, is 24-years old.
Veteran DeVante Parker is no lock to be a Dolphin for the duration of his career, and same to be said for guys like Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant. Each of these targets are multi-million dollar contracted players, so the chances all make it to Week 1 are slim, let alone lifers from here on in South Florida.
Williams is perhaps the most intriguing and underappreciated young talent in the AFC East at the very least, and perhaps NFL as a whole. A key stat in terms of improvement from rookie season to year two was a spike in his yards per catch from 13.4 to 16.0. Another metric to admire is that out of his 50 career receptions, 38 went for 1st downs, and 7 for scores. That’s a score every 7 catches approximately.
Heading back into that Cardinals game prior to injury, Tua had success throwing Williams’ way, having a QB rating of 156.2 while targeting him. In 2019, the quarterback had a collective 79.0 rating, and in 2020 that number improved to 93.5. Another positive progression.
When analyzing the potential of Williams, many skeptics say two things that are a bit misleading. The Drops and being “injury-prone.” The elephant in the room are the drops, and that is something that can be remedied with training and time and of course getting familiar with a quarterback. He had 3 drops in 2020 in 8 games, two coming in a victory against the Rams.
On to the other stigma of injury-proneness, it is arguable that both could have been completely avoided. The punt return-that-never-should-have-happened, in a game where he had already scored a pair of receiving TDs, was a mistake. An unnecessary usage in my opinion.
Last season, the dive into the endzone on a reception led to a horribly awkward tackle, which seemed to see his foot twisted by a Cardinal, only to have a fellow Dolphin land on that once again mentioned foot in a “fluke” type of injury. Neither were non-contact, structurally awkward, or weak-boned scenarios where a player was simply “frail.”
In terms of the athleticism that dubs him his “unicorn” and “glitch” nicknames, he is every bit the wunderkind of a prospect he was in high school. A 5-star recruit ranked just below Calvin Ridley at the time, as well as a national-scouted soccer player, whom was the affection of the University of North Carolina’s program. He excelled in track as well while at Colorado State. In 2017 he was All-Mountain West in the triple-jump.
Williams has been recovering as well as clearly rehabbing and working out, what seems to be ahead of schedule. The ever maturing and improving Dolphin has a full career ahead of him, and a full 16-game potential with Tua. Couple that with a consistent plan on offense within a new offensive scheme with a pair of fresh coordinators and a further solidified offensive line could make Williams a viable weapon in Miami’s arsenal when deployed.
An arsenal that may not produce a 100-catch player, as the ball will likely be spread around to the crowded bunch of pass-catchers Miami now rosters. Williams’ value will be in his quality of receptions in lieu of quantity. His potential of heavy yards per catch as well as his catch to touchdown ratio is of extreme value, and let’s throw in his pair of 2020 2-point conversions for good measure.
With a sky-is-the-limit potential in year three, Williams has the chance to play for a true NFL contract, and not an undrafted deal that has him as a “sweet-and-low” player on a roster with several expensive contracts, as well as extensions and re-signings that need to happen in the near future.
As mentioned before, with a loaded bunch of veteran receivers as well as Fuller in a 1-year deal, Williams could prove himself to be this team’s future outside and/or deep threat. When paired with a few young players in the 2021 draft, as well as a hopeful future with Fuller, Mike Gesicki and a developing Tua, the future is as bright as the orange sun in South Florida for the “unicorn,” Preston Williams.
By: Chip Turner
Monty Rice – Georgia
6’0” – 238 pounds
If there’s one player in the 2021 NFL Draft who benefited from a better-than-expected 40 time at his Pro Day, it’s Monty Rice. He ran a 4.58, which, while not blazing fast, certainly raised some eyebrows. It was odd reviewing Rice immediately after Tony Fields; in watching his film, the first thought that came to mind was, “This kid reminds me a LOT of Tony Fields…but he’s just a little bit faster and a little bit better against the pass.” That’s not a bad thing; Rice has a nose for the football, and one thing that stands out to me is his sideline-to-sideline pursuit of ball carriers. He lacks ideal size, but he seemed to get off blocks decently in pursuit and closes very quickly. He’s going to be one of those guys in the NFL who will have opposing fans yelling at kick returners and RB to run north to south rather than laterally. While he’s unlikely to be a three-down LB in the NFL, he doesn’t appear completely lost in coverage.
As listed above, Rice isn’t going to scare any opposing QBs; he simply lacks the fluidity to change direction with NFL receivers. He’s a chase-down LB who gets pointed in one direction and unleashed. While that’s not a bad thing, it will limit his utilization at the next level to a two-down linebacker and special teams player.
With the increasing popularity of three-down LB in the NFL, Rice will have limited appeal to NFL teams, but the things that he does, he does quite well. In this LB class, he’ll probably be a mid-to-late Day Three pick.
By: Shawn Williams
My rankings for Miami’s 2021 Free Agent signings, re-signings or trades.
1.) WILL FULLER, WR (Texans, UFA) - Miami’s biggest need this offseason was providing Tua with playmakers that can help him, and the offense, take a solid leap forward in Year 2. Dolphin Wide Receivers struggled creating separation and getting into open space (among other things), and Will Fuller solves those issues. Fuller excels at stretching the field and is a reliable a pass catcher (0 drops in 2020), when healthy. The dynamic he creates elevates what Miami can do on offense, and now gives opposing defenses another legitimate weapon to game plan for.
2.) BENARDRICK MCKINNEY, LB (Texans, trade) - The Dolphins boasted one of the league’s best defenses for most of last season. Xavien Howard’s elite play and the team’s ability to create turnovers propelled them to near elite territory, but they still had holes. Miami wasn’t great against the run and could’ve used a true leader at the Linebacker position. They have hopefully found that with former Pro Bowler McKinney. He didn’t cost them much (no disrespect to Shaq Lawson), and could be one of the remaining pieces that can push the defense over the top.
3.) MATT SKURA, C (Ravens, UFA) - Much of the fan base was clamoring for free agent Corey Linsley (Packers) and would’ve settled for Rodney Hudson (Raiders) when he was made available, but they shouldn’t scoff at Matt Skura. The former Raven has caught a bad rap for a rough outing in a torrential downpour, as well as a few injuries, but it wasn’t long ago that Skura was heralded as a top young Center in the NFL. What fans may not know, is Skura is excellent in pass protection (1 sack allowed) and can be solid in the run game too. As long as the bad snaps are an anomaly, and he can stay healthy, this addition could become a real steal.
4.) JUSTIN COLEMAN, CB (Lions, UFA) - This six-year veteran has had a bit of an up-and-down career but has shown excellent value when asked to play a role that best suits his ability. Early in his career he was used on the boundary, and was less than impressive, before moving to the slot where he has shown to be a very respectable corner. Miami has struggled to fill the slot since Bobby McCain was re-positioned to safety, and Coleman should provide solid competition for the incumbent Nik Needham and 2020 rookie Noah Igbinoghene. Corner is one of the most important positions in football, and this signing will at least be excellent depth to an already strong unit.
5.) ADAM BUTLER, IDL (Patriots, UFA) - Brain Flores loves his ex-Pats, for better or worse (see Kyle Van Noy), and Butler is another one of his guys from the Super Bowl winning defense he captained in New England. Butler is a versatile piece to add to the young defensive line. He was primarily used as a nose tackle in New England but can play multiple roles as a formidable run defender, and pass rusher. In four seasons, he has racked up 15 sacks from a position that normally doesn’t yield a ton in that department (unless your name’s Aaron Donald). In a defense that relies heavily on players being interchangeable and finds unique ways to rush the passer, Butler feels like a very good fit for this Flores defense.
6.) VINCE BIEGEL, LB (Re-signed) - Before an unfortunate Achilles injury at the start of training camp, Biegel had high expectations amongst the fan base and coaches after an impressive 2019 season. He didn’t put up huge numbers but came onto the scene as an afterthought acquisition from New Orleans to become a valuable contributor. Brian Flores seems to have a knack for finding players with a specific skill set that can be maximized in his defense. Andrew Van Ginkel was Exhibit A last year, and 2021 could be a big “prove-it” year for Vince as he looks to recreate his momentum from two seasons ago.
7.) ELANDON ROBERTS, LB (Re-signed) - It remains to be seen if Roberts will be ready for the start of the 2021 campaign after a significant knee injury in Week 16 but leading up to that point, he was a bright spot defending against the run. Roberts continually found ways to get to the ball carrier, including some big-time tackles in the backfield. Although he may just fill a depth role after acquiring Benardrick McKinney, Elandon Roberts is a valuable leader, great culture guy, and someone that’s better off on your team, then not.
8.) MALCOLM BROWN, RB (Rams, UFA) - Depending on what Miami does in the draft, Brown may just end up as a solid depth piece. The Dolphins backfield has talent with Myles Gaskin, and Salvon Ahmed and Patrick Laird have shown to be serviceable when needed, however they lack a power running. Enter Malcolm Brown. The former Ram is a bruiser, and the kind of guy that’ll get the tough yards, or the goal line touchdown.
9.) JACOBY BRISSETT, QB (Colts, UFA) - After moving on from the mythical Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami was left with an obvious need at QB2. It’s officially Tua’s time, but he’s a young quarterback, and injuries happen as he knows, all too well. Brissett is a capable veteran with a strong arm and is a guy who doesn’t turn the ball over. In a pinch, Miami should be able to survive with Jacoby under center.
10.) MICHAEL PALARDY, P (UFA) - Before missing the 2020 season due to injury, Palardy was a solid punter in Carolina. He may prove to be an upgrade over the departed Matt Haak. While it’s not glamorous, a Punter is important, but let’s hope we don’t need to do that often in 2021.
11.) MACK HOLLINS, WR/ST (Re-signed) - Mack is one of, if not the best Gunners in the NFL. His value on special teams should not be understated.
12.) BRENNAN SCARLETT, LB (Texans, UFA) / DUKE RILEY LB (Eagles, UFA) - These guys are tied as they’re likely to hold depth roles and play on special teams.
13.) CETHAN CARTER, FB/TE (Bengals, UFA) - One would have to assume Carter will attempt to fill the void left after Miami released Chandler Cox last season. He did catch a touchdown on his very first NFL reception, so that’s cool.
14.) ROBERT FOSTER, WR (Football Team, UFA) - It’s tough to imagine Foster making the team with how deep the wide receiver room looks as of today, and we still have the draft. You never know though, Foster is FAST!
15.) JOHN JENKINS, IOL (Bears, UFA) - Jenkins filled in as a rotational piece for Brian Flores in 2019. He wasn’t retained and found himself in Chicago last year. Flores has decided to bring him back, and at the least, he’s a camp body. He’s also the only player on the roster over the age of thirty.
By: Shawn Williams
The Penn State Nittany Lion’s defense boasts more than star LB Micah Parsons, and after the PSU Pro Day, it’s another pass rusher that took home all the praise. 6’5, 257 pound Jayson Oweh is an athletic freak of nature, and that showed up big time with a remarkable 4.39 40, 11’2” broad jump, and a mesmerizing 6.84 3-cone drill.
There may not be another pass rusher in this draft as athletically gifted as Oweh. His potential is incalculable, but he’s incredibly raw, and it shows on tape and in the numbers. Oweh, as a role player, recorded five sacks in 2019. His 2020 red-shirt sophomore season (and first as a full-time starter) produced zero. That could be a big “Yikes” for teams and scouts drooling over his pro day. Jayson was a star basketball player in high school, and didn’t explode onto the football scene until his senior year. He only played in 20 football games in college. For all the raw potential he shows, teams must realize he’s likely a project player.
Oweh’s athletic gifts and great length need some balancing. He is very lean, and needs to add strength and power in order to consistently win match-ups at the next level. He may be used sparingly as a rookie while he refines his game, but could be a very capable special teamer in his early years. His rawness shouldn’t affect his draft stock, as he’s currently projected a first or second round guy. With good coaching, a patient approach, and a good scheme fit, he should have no problem reaching his ceiling.
By: Chip Turner
Jamin Davis - Kentucky
6’3” -234 pounds
Where the blue heck did this kid come from all of a sudden?
Jamin Davis completely blew up in 2020, wreaking havoc at Kentucky. He’s yet another three-down LB who has NFL GMs drooling after he continued annihilating things at his Pro Day. I’ve already listed Baron Browning as a fantastic athlete…but Davis is a freak. He ran a 4.48 40, with a 42” vertical and 11’ standing broad jump. That’s…ridiculous. Some of the Pro Day 40 times this year were a little sketchy, but you can’t fool a ruler. There was one vertical leap higher than 42” at the 2019 NFL Combine. One.
Davis isn’t a “Vernon Gholston” situation, either. His production on the field was phenomenal. He showed excellent coverage skills, and he’s very instinctive, reading and reacting to run plays, often penetrating the LOS and disrupting things in the backfield. He’s explosive and rangy, with upside that undoubtedly has NFL GMs salivating.
Davis only has one full year as a starter, and he’s still raw. Why did his production peak so suddenly in 2020? His aggression gets the better of him sometimes, and he can misread and over-pursue at times, taking himself out of a play.
Jamin Davis, for all of his production in 2020, seems to be working mostly on instinct – his technique and pre-snap play recognition will need work in the NFL. While the previous sentence seems like a critique, it isn’t intended as such. Davis was one of the more fun and disruptive linebackers in all of college football last season WITH those limitations. He’s got the potential to be a top LB in the NFL for years to come. He’ll likely come off the board quickly during the NFL Draft…possibly as early as the end of the first round.
What's better than a great Dolphins Podcast Duo? A Duo of Duos! It's Cross-Over time! The TuAmigos, Carter Melrose & Jorge Hinojosa, join forces with the Scouting Combine's Brandon Liguori & Hussam Patel.
These four are a blast to listen to and have great insight leading into this month's NFL Draft!
By: Tanner Elliott
Elijah Mitchell is a player who has very good balance; you can see it every time someone tries to chip him. In order to tackle him, one has to wrap him up, or he’ll stay on his feet. This was one of my favorite parts of scouting him, as there were times a defender would come flying in and drive at his knee, and Mitchell would still find a way to stay up. He’s an aggressive ball carrier, and you can see it when he runs. He always wants to get the most yards possible, and he runs with pride. Whenever Mitchell would dive on a run, he would always just go full force; it didn’t matter who was in front of him.
Mitchell looks lost in pass protection. He doesn’t know where to look, or where to block in some cases. In one case I saw, Mitchell ended up blocking the back of his own lineman. This was very alarming to me, as having a back who can pass block is very important. Mitchell isn’t the best at making people miss, as he tries to use his speed (when he isn’t the fastest) or run over them. Most of the time when Mitchell was in a one on one situation, he wouldn’t try to put a move on someone or try a stutter step. His vision also isn’t the best, as you saw many times in college; he just tried to run through the hole that the play was designed for. This led to a ton of plays being gains of just one or two yards, whereas if he cut back, he would have gotten three or four.
Both Conner and Mitchell are aggressive runners who like to get those extra yards, but can turn on the jets if they need to. They both excel in-between the tackles and have exceptional balance. Conner does have a bit more of an impact in the passing game compared to Mitchell, but Mitchell does have some potential as a threat out of the backfield as he flashed in college.
Mitchell is an interesting prospect. His tape is very inconsistent, and at times very underwhelming. His ceiling is an average NFL backup who might sneak his way into the mid-to-late fourth round. His floor will be a team's third option at running back, and draft-wise would be the late fifth or early sixth round. He may end up on a team’s practice squad to try to work his way up from there.
By: Chip Turner
Jabril Cox - LSU
6’3” – 232 pounds
Jabril Cox transferred from North Dakota State after 3 years of wreaking havoc in the FCS, and played his senior season as LSU. It’s arguable that he hasn’t approached his ceiling yet, as he handled the step up in competition well. Cox projects as another three-down LB in the NFL, as he has outstanding coverage skills. He’s quick to the ball, very instinctive, and is able to diagnose plays well. A QB in high school, Cox seems to have retained some of what he learned in play-calling, and often anticipates where the ball is headed.
While Cox is probably the best pass-defending LB in the draft, his run defense needs improvement. Fortunately, he has the size and frame to develop this. He has difficulty stacking and shedding blockers, and once an O-Lineman gets their hands on him, you’re unlikely to see him involved in the play. If he’d played his entire college career in the SEC, this might not be the case. Regardless, it’s not a tremendous concern for the NFL, but it’s definitely something to consider. The only other thing that might affect his draft stock is that he didn’t participate at his Pro Day due to a hamstring injury.
Jabril Cox is another solid three-down LB prospect who will tantalize GMs with his three-down ability. He’s fluid, pursues well, and should defend well against almost any receiver across the middle of the field. He’ll likely be a Day Two pick in the NFL Draft.
These displaced Dolphin Fan "Outsiders" bring their outstanding perspective to the Dolphin's draft needs in Cleveland just weeks away.
By: Chip Turner
Baron Browning – Ohio State
6’3” – 245 pounds
Please note that for the purposes of LB analysis, I’m going to start using Pro Day information. Is some of it skewed due to not being as level of a playing field as a Draft Combine? Most certainly, particularly 40 times…but it certainly doesn’t seem to be skewed to the point it shouldn’t be considered.
Baron Browning finished his college career on the rise, and improved his draft stock considerably over the past several months. He’s got good size for the position, and he’s fast, explosive, and agile. In short, he’s a fantastic athlete who had a phenomenal Pro Day. He’s not only a run-stuffing force, but also solid in coverage; he hits like a truck, and he’s a true three-down LB in the NFL, which is becoming extremely valuable to NF teams. As secondaries are becoming more and more specialized to deal with a variety of offensive schemes, linebackers who don’t have to be substituted out on passing downs are key. Browning won’t be someone who can cover an elite WR in the NFL, but that’s not where you want any LB. He should do just fine against most TE and RB, and he’s versatile enough to play in almost any linebacking scheme; he played inside at Ohio State during 2019 and then moved outside in 2020, proving adept at both.
Browning showed inconsistent play early in his college career, but came on nicely in the second half of his junior year, then became a dominant force in his senior year. What I found interesting is that he “disappeared” on the stat sheet for the Penn State game in 2020 – but that’s because he covered Pat Freiermuth for a good number of snaps. Freiermuth was held to 3 receptions for 46 yards that game. Browning can misdiagnose plays at times; he’s better at instinctive “read and react”. His instincts are generally very good, but there were instances where he over-pursued plays and ended up out of position.
Baron Browning closed out his college career with a flourish, and should be an impact LB in the NFL. He’ll make whichever team he’s drafted by better, fairly quickly – he might have a short adjustment period in the NFL, but he’s so athletic it’s going to be difficult to keep him off the field. I suspect he’s a lot higher in NFL GM’s rankings than many mock drafters; he’s likely to be selected during the first two days of the NFL Draft, but if he isn’t, some team is going to get a steal.
Ryan Roberts @Risendraft joins Hussam Patel and Brandon Liguori for the 3rd episode of the Pro-Day Circuit
By: Shawn Williams
With University of Miami EDGE players Gregory Rousseau and Jaelan Phillips dominating much of the draft with first round buzz, LB Quincy Roche is often an afterthought, and unjustly so.
Roche is an athletic and versatile pass rushing prospect. He is a bit undersized, but more than makes up for it with an explosive and twitchy first step, quick processing, and a host of refined and technically sound moves that help him escape, evade and bend around much bigger offensive linemen.
The UM prospect is a bit undersized at 6’3, 240 lbs. He’s likely to project as a 3-4 OLB rather than a 4-3 DE or OLB. Although he’s a terrific pass rushing prospect, he’s also a balanced run defender. His size may make defending the run a bit tougher at the next level, but his ability to react quickly and his natural instincts give him the potential to be an impact starter in the NFL.
Roche had arguably the best pro day of his UM counterparts. He showed off his speed (4.42 shuttle/4.66 40/7.18 3-cone drill) and athleticism (9’11 broad jump/32.5 vertical/23 bench reps).
Roche played 3 years at Temple before transferring to the University of Miami. He finished his collegiate career with 30.5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, and 182 total tackles.
Roche is currently projected in the middle rounds, with a ceiling of the 2nd round. He has been compared to EDGE Shaquille Barrett (draftnetwork).
“Best EDGE rusher in this draft easily as far as pass rush package…testing numbers confirm he is an athletic freak show”
- Louis Riddick
ESPN/Former NFL Scout
University of Miami Junior EDGE rusher Jaelan Phillips passes all of the eye tests. On film, he looks like the complete package. He is 100% scheme versatile, his stats speak for themselves, and his pro day affirmed the obvious, so what is keeping this “freak show” from being a consensus Top 10 draft pick?
Phillips came to UCLA (2017-2018) as 5-star recruit, bringing high expectations and creating major excitement for the Bruins program. He transferred to UM after two seasons, leaving inconsistent play, and problematic injury concerns behind (Wrist/Ankle/Concussions). Luckily, a change of scenery seemed to be all Jaelan needed. In his lone season for the Hurricanes, he stacked up 45 tackles, 8 sacks and an interception. Phillips was a dominant force, lining up all over the place (hand in the dirt, upright, in space, on the interior). He has all the tools to be a disruptor against the Run and Pass.
The UM Junior uses his outstanding size (6’5, 260 lbs.), length (83 ¼ wingspan), speed (4.56 40/4.12 shuttle) and athleticism (36” vertical/10’5 broad jump) to his absolute advantage. Jaelan should be safely entrenched in the first round of the 2021 draft, projecting to go anywhere in between 10 (ceiling) to the early second (floor), depending on how trusting teams are that his injury issues are behind him. He will be able to play for any team as either a 4-3 DE or 3-4 OLB. Draftnetwork compares Jaelan Phillips to recent standout Trey Hendrickson (now with the Cincinnati Bengals).
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