By: Ron Hiatt
The Dolphins entered the off-season after the rookie season of head coach Brian Flores with a clear picture of what was missing. They spent handsomely to add to their defense with LB/Edge Kyle Van Noy, CB Byron Jones, LB Elandon Roberts, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, DE Shaq Lawson, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, Safety Fejedelem, and Safety Kavon Frazier.
Then drafted for defense as well with CB Noah Igbinoghene, DT Raekwon Davis, Safety Brandon Jones, DE Jason Strowbridge, and Edge Curtis Weaver, although later was cut. After the draft, the Dolphins signed undrafted free-agents, NT Benito Jones, DE Tyshun Render, DE Nick Coe, Safety Brian Cole, CB Javaris Davis, and CB Tino Ellis, but did the Dolphins overlook the Nose Tackle position?
Davon Godchaux entered the 2020 season as the primary starter at NT with rookie Raekwon Davis as his backup while sprinkling in Christian Wilkins there on certain match-ups to keep the rotation fresh. Benito Jones looks like he could be fine at NT on paper, but the thing is, on paper and in reality, tend to not match, which is why the games are played on the field.
Godchaux and Davis have been getting pushed off the line, allowing the opposing running game to give up chunk yards. Godchaux was a 5th round pick out of LSU and is not a true Nose but an outstanding 3-tech (DT). Godchaux slid in the draft playing out of position to allow fellow teammates to make plays and is a team first guy.
Rookie Raekwon Davis was a Dolphins 2nd round pick in the 2020 draft and appeared to be a selection of HC Brian Flores who could be seen animated with his kids after the selection of Davis, near giddy. The knock on Raekwon during the draft process is his steady decline each of his 3 years at Alabama and had a media reputation of taking plays off.
Davis is a mountain of a man at 6’7’’ 315 lbs. and was envisioned to rotate in the defensive line and anchor it against the run which is his strength. So far this season, Davis has been struggling at holding the point of attack, giving up running lanes. Fellow rookie NT Benito Jones, one of many Jones’s on the roster, made his first appearance Week 6 against the Jets, as Flores promoted him off the practice squad for reinforcements.
The injury to Godchaux forced Flores and Boyer to flex Sieler and Wilkins to rotate in at NT in the game vs the 49’ers. Wilkins and Zach Sieler’s versatility were on full display as the defensive-front play seemed to improve rather than decline.
The potential and steady improvement of this defense is seen even by the untrained eye. A true Nose Tackle would indeed unlock this defense with the improvements in both the secondary and the defensive ends being vastly improved. I think the team seems to have echoed my thoughts by pursuing Snacks Harrison. In Flores’ defense, having a strong Nose to hold the point of attack allows for more 1-on-1 match-ups and frees up the inside linebackers to flow and stop the run.
The state of the team during the 2019 season compared to the first quarter of the 2020 season is vastly improved. With 10 games left, it is still too early to tell if the Nose Tackle position was overlooked. Rookies Davis and Jones could gain their legs down the stretch, much like Wilkins did the year before. Did the plan for the defense overlook the Nose Tackle position? Perhaps it’s too early to get an accurate scent, as there is still cooking to be done over the next few months.
Please welcome Ron Hiatt to the PhinManiacs team and you can follow him on Twitter @pacificfinfan1
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