By: Hussam Patel
At 6’5 and 254 pounds, Hunter Long is a big dude on the football field. In my last article, he was shown to be the main receiver for Boston College in 2020. He ran some nice routes and delivered when his name was called; surely it will happen sometime in the future in South Florida.
In the initial scouting report done at the NFL Draft, Long was touted as a versatile option who had experience in blocking and receiving at different spots in the Boston College offense. Long definitely has the size and length to succeed as a blocker in the NFL and has room to master his route running.
Currently, he is a TE2 on the Dolphins; however, at some point in the future he can be the focal TE for this offense and be a significant contributor similar to his role at Boston College.
Hunter Long is a good blocker but will need to add functional strength to deal with bigger EDGE rushers and linebackers. At BC he was one of the first blockers getting off the line in pass plays but was even better as a run blocker.
Long will be a crucial piece to get Miami’s run game going this season, as it was lacking for the last two seasons. He plays off the tackle, seals the edge well enough against Defensive Linemen and is able to climb to the second level against LB’s and DB’s. His foot placement is smooth but will need to get quicker working against faster LB’s and DB’s.
In the NFL, he will need to improve his functional strength to get better in pass and run blocking against bigger defenders at the line of scrimmage and be quicker in his hand placement while anchoring his body.
Hunter Long is a pretty solid route runner in terms of what he ran at Boston College, and ultimately became the #1 receiving threat. He’s smooth coming off the line and in and out of his breaks when lined out wide. He understands how to use his body and gives defenders illusory moves to fin open space in zone coverage.
What surprised me for a player of his size is that he actually has long speed to get away from defenders and gain a good number of yards after the catch. He can bulldoze his way through contact, picks up his play speed as his route builds up, and attacks the seam on short, intermediate, and deep throws.
His hand-fighting skills are above average, plucking the ball at the top of his routes, and he uses his size to bring the ball down with his soft hands. I’ve routinely seen him scramble at times with his quarterback - mirroring what Jurkovec does in Green Bay - and focuses on the ball when it comes his way.
Long will need to get better at breaking on his routes in the NFL, as he usually just tries to get to the end of his routes in college. At times he would get away with it, but at others he struggles against press, especially if he is running the usual flat routes. He can be inconsistent at dropping the ball but doesn’t actively fight to catch the ball.
Hunter Long can be a versatile option that is experienced blocking and running routes from different alignments in a pro-style offense. He has the size and strength to become an in-line blocker, but his athletic profile suggest he may need to improve his core strength and anchor his body.
He has time to develop his route-running technique his first year in the NFL and get better with his inconsistencies in catching the ball. Long projects as a great TE2 in a 12-personnel heavy offense with the possibility of becoming a TE1 in the future. He can become like Hunter Henry.
You might’ve seen me react to the Hunter Long pick on our Draft Day live-stream (Hunter, if you’re reading this, don't look at the live-stream). I was a bit confused about the pick initially, because Miami needed a center and a running back at pick 81.
Then I took a look at what he did at Boston College, understood what exactly this Dolphins offense could look like with Long, and a light bulb went off in my head. See the thread below:
Let's take a look at Hunter Long’s measurables:
The numbers say he's a monster, and certainly it predicts elite measurables. We’ll get an article a little bit later on detailing how he fits in Miami and his traits as a TE.
In an initial press conference, we see the type of person Hunter Long is. Like our other college staff writers ( Carter Melrose, Brandon Ligouri, Tanner Elliott, Joey Mauriello) and I, he’s got his hobbies, such as solving a Rubik's Cube in under a minute. I don't know about you, but I can’t name anyone I know who can solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute. Additionally, he was a computer science major at Boston college, which speaks to his intellect as a player and person.
Before suiting up for the Boston College Eagles, Long attended the prestigious boarding school Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. On 24/7 sports and ESPN rankings, he earned a two to three star recruiting ranking, despite being one of the top players in the state of Massachusetts. Long mostly received offers from FCS schools in the Northeast, but committed to BC, his only Power-Five offer.
Long was red-shirted his Freshman season, backed up former Bills TE Tommy Sweeney as a Sophomore, and became the starter in 2019. While Boston College was a run-oriented team, QB Phil Jurkovec took notice of the contested catches Long would routinely make. Long went on to lead BC with 509 yards on 28 catches and 2 scores. Long had an explosive season in 2020, as the offense changed into a vertical oriented scheme; furthermore, he led the team in receptions and was second in yards.
Coach Flores also played at Boston College, and this speaks volumes. Not only did he go to BC’s Pro Day because it’s his Alma Mater but also because of Hunter Long. Here’s what Long had to say about Boston College:
“The BC program is known as being a hard-nosed, tough program," Long said. "It breeds guys like Coach Flores. I went down (to the Senior Bowl) and was able to show what I could do and build connections with all of the coaches. I was able to talk with them throughout the week. It was an awesome week for me and obviously I built a great connection with them."
Indeed, the relationship was built between the organization and Hunter Long at the Senior Bowl. His teammates voted for him as the best practice player among the TE group on the National team, which was coached by the Miami Dolphins. Coach Flores called him tough, smart, and a team-first player, which is exactly the type of player he wants in the organization.
Check back soon as I detail my scouting report on Hunter Long.
By: Chip Turner
This is the second of two articles on 2021 Dolphins draft pick Larnel Coleman. For the first part, go here.
For years, going on a decade, the Miami Dolphins offensive line justifiably has been an area of concern, ridicule, and at times outright catastrophe. Starting in 2020, Chris Grier and Brian Flores have spent considerable resources to remedy this. They’ve added numerous free agents, and spent not one, not two, but five draft picks on the offensive line in two years. Austin Jackson, Robert Hunt, Solomon Kindley, Liam Eichenberg, and 2021 7th round pick Larnel Coleman out of UMass. So what does Larnel Coleman bring to the party?
The easiest and most probable answer is simply depth. And that’s not a bad thing; remember that there were times during the Philbin and Gase tenures when the team was literally signing free agents mid-week and having them start on Sunday. Quality, dependable depth on the offensive line is a far, far better option.
A closer look, however, shows that Coleman might be a bit more than that. The other thing the Grier/Flores regime has consistently done is draft high-upside, athletic players. I’ve covered that ad nauseum, so I won’t rehash it too much other than to say that Coleman fits that description quite well. He ran a 5.1 40, measured a 84-7/8” wingspan, and put up 23 reps on the bench. As a guy with fairly long arms, I can attest that they certainly don’t help on the bench.
At 6’6” – 307 pounds, he’s had problems with bull rushes, but his long arms allow him to get his hands on attackers quickly. He shows quick feet and good body control, unsurprising for a high school basketball star. And while he clearly needs work on his technique (His knee bend and hand fighting in particular), and he will have to add some weight, it’s difficult to find negatives on him aside from those faults.
As far as positives, it’s difficult to not root for him when you hear what his former coach had to say about him. Fm a masslive.com article, “Whoever gets him is getting a player who is nowhere near his ceiling as an offensive lineman,” said former coach Walt Bell. “He’s got unbelievable football intelligence; he learns at a really high rate…Larnel has been a professional long before he’s had a chance to be a professional. That’s one of the things that makes him so special.”
As far as Coleman himself? At rookie minicamp, he said, “Everybody’s here to work. We’re all here to improve and be the best we can for each other, the team and the organization.”
As spring turns to summer and training camp begins, we’ll have the opportunity to see just how much Coleman can progress, and how quickly. As with the other rookies and free agent signings, he’ll have the opportunity to impress and land a spot on the offensive line.
While it’s hard to say at this point if Coleman makes the final 53, I certainly wouldn’t bet against him. And as a long-term, high upside prospect whom everyone seems to love? Smart money will be on Coleman to develop quickly for the Miami Dolphins.
By: Jason Sarney
It has been a terrific start to mini-camp for Nik Needham. Not only did he pick-off quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, yesterday in a drenched practice, he was also praised today by Coach Flores in a morning media Zoom session. When asked about the UTEP Miners rise, Flores went into deep detail, and we all got diamonds:
“He’s worked hard. He’s tough, he’s competitive, he’s a team-first guy. He’s made improvements really since he’s got here, and he’s continuing to get better. He’s aggressive."
Not only did the 3rd-year head coach praise his 3rd-year undrafted cornerback’s work ethic, but he also made sure to mention his development and progression as well, saying, “he wants to be out there, he wants to compete and normally guys who put all of those things together, they improve. And he’s definitely made a lot of improvement.”
It is no secret I myself have tracked, talked up, and taken offense of those detractors of Needham. There is a terrific off-field back story that comes with him, as some know from previous articles. Nik had an opportunity to talk about his father at today’s press conference and it once again became evident that Needham was born to play this game. I mean this quite literally, as on the week of Father’s Day, Needham was able to praise his dad, Steve Calhoun.
Calhoun is former collegiate and semi-pro quarterback who trains young and up-and-coming professionals at the his own position, wide receiver, and of course, cornerback. His West Coast-based camp is called "Armed and Dangerous," and he's had a slew of marquee receivers and first round quarterbacks under his tutelage over the past decade.
Nik described how Calhoun has helped his game in detail saying, “I think just having an understanding of the game a lot – just growing up with my dad. He’s a big football guy, so just being around it at a young age. He’s a quarterbacks coach, so I just get in the mind of an offensive player and he’s always breaking down film with offensive guys, so I’d just always look at that."
If you want to take a trip on social media and see for yourself, you could understand the iron-sharpens-iron mindset Needham has, going up against some of the best there is at wide receiver every single day that he trains. Needham has spent his entire life being coached by a quarterback and has gone one-on-one for probably thousands of reps against top quality competition growing up.
“I think throughout the years, I’ve developed more and more and become more instinctive, I guess, you can say that,” Needham added.
This is where the uninitiated collectively hit their palms over their forehead and have a Homer Simpson like “D’oh,” when they realize this kid is supposed to happen. This is his 3rd year and is the make or break one for him in Miami for the long term. It’s possible that “d’oh” turns into “dough” in the offseason, if another year of progression and development keeps Needham in town with a multi-year contract.
Coach Brian Flores is enjoying watching, saying, “he’s continuing to improve and I’m very happy with where he’s at. He does everything necessary to continue to make improvement.” Flores was not the only person praising the cornerback, as a reporter mentioned the admiration he had for Needham’s path to where he is now, despite what seems to be constant competition.
Nik said, “just stick by the same motto I said. I’m happy to have those guys here. ‘J Coleman’ (Justin Coleman) is a real cool dude. I’m trying to just focus on myself, put in time into my craft and then just whatever happens, happens. I’m just here to help the team. I’m not worried about playing any position or a certain position. I’m just here to help and do whatever they need me to do to win, for sure.”
Of course, we have to point out the negatives, or else this wouldn’t be an objective piece. There are areas of Needham's game that he needs to improve on, especially the penalties. Let’s see if he has so far:
For his career: 12 accepted penalties on him. In 2019, his undrafted rookie year, there were 6 penalties accepted and the same for 2020. However, let's break down the penalties.
-In 2019 he had one accepted illegal use of hands penalty and zero in 2020. One was declined in 2019.
- In 2019 he had four Pass Interference calls on him, two accepted, two declined. He had two in 2020, one accepted and one declined.
- In 2019 he had three holding penalties, two accepted and one declined. In 2020 he had two accepted holding calls.
-The issue in 2020 was his three accepted illegal contact calls.
-For his career 12 accepted flags, five were in 3rd down, three on 2nd-down and four on 1st-down.
Needham plays aggressive, clearly, being he was a former high school wide receiver as well as being a pass-defending monster. Which means he is getting his hands all over the ball, which inevitably will create contact, leading to some penalties.
-In 2020 he had (1) accepted Pass Interference against the Niners, which was a win.
-He had just (1) 2020 holding call all season, that being against the Raiders. Another win.
-He only committed (1) 4th quarter penalty all of last season.
Now some good stats:
- Against the Rams, they targeted Needham 11 times, and he allowed 5 catches for 59 yards. That's a QB completion percentage of 45.5 and a passer rating of 62.3
- He gave up two catches for 18 yards against the elite Keenan Allen. Allen's late score wasn't against Needham, and occurred late in the 4th as Xavien Howard was covering him then and the game essentially already won.
- Without (2) Bills games Needham's QB Comp % was 53% and those (2) Bills games his QB Comp % was 65.6%
This is where you look at a player who was undrafted, not making a lot of money, and was converted from an outside boundary player to an inside slot-man and say, "he has done quite well despite the transition." Flores, who is a defensive backs specialist as well as Gerald Alexander, who is in my opinion a future head coach in the making, gives reason to believe Needham will again improve with the penalties.
Needham is a player who will always do what he needs to do to get his body right, and a student of the game. Most people have no idea just how much film this young man watches on a daily basis It' s amazing to see what coaching confidence can do for a player’s development. Even if Needham has to take a back seat to younger players or free agents, rest assured that his competitive fire will drive him to play his best when his number is called. As he says, "just getting out there, trying to compete and make plays out there whenever the opportunity is present. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
On a team that has a number one cornerback in a holdout situation with Xavien Howard, a converted boundary cornerback in Needham may just be called again to play his natural position. If he plays nearly as well, if not better at his home than he did in his converted spot last season, you can just imagine what we may be ready to witness should be unthinkable happen with a veteran contractual situation.
On a more positive note, should Xavien Howard stick around and rework the deal, this would only mean the depth of the boundary behind Howard and Jones is stellar with Needham and Noah Igbinoghene. Thanks to the players brought in like Justin Coleman and Jason McCourty, as well as rookie Jevon Holland, Needham could be the ultimate strategic insurance policy or even dynamic depth player for this team.
What happens in the next few weeks and even months with Howard will be very interesting to track, but with the flexibility that these Dolphins have in the secondary, retaining this group should make them a top-3 unit. Furthermore, there is a potential development of continuity in the secondary for the better part of a decade should the Dolphins play their cards right. We already know they have a pair of aces and it’s just a matter of time before we find out what the rest of the hand looks like. One would hope that the Dolphins front office goes "all in" with Xavien Howard but worse comes to worse, like all gamblers look for, there are options and outs.
Regardless to what goes down it is nice to know that the talent they are bringing in in the secondary might just be developing quicker than many think.
By: Chip Turner
As the 2021 NFL Draft process wound down on Day Three, the Miami Dolphins selected OT Larnel Coleman with the 231st overall pick. In researching and evaluating the 2021 Draft Class as a whole, one thing became readily apparent. The Miami Dolphins, for the past two years, have leaned heavily in the direction of high-upside, smart, athletic prospects.
Coleman is no different. At 6’6” – 307 pounds, he put up more than respectable numbers at his Pro Day – he actually tested in the top 15% of all tackles drafted since 1987.
Originally a basketball star in high school, Coleman transitioned to football at UMass, and has improved his craft every year. He played in all 12 games for UMass in 2017, with one start, and then started every game from 2018-2020. He’s also versatile; he’s played both left and right tackle, and even practiced snapping the ball, so he could help at whatever position he might be needed. In 2020, he made the Outland Trophy Watch List; the Outland Trophy is given to the nation’s best Offensive Lineman. Even with the abbreviated 2020 season, Coleman impressed.
Chris Grier discussed him briefly when talking about the draft class “These guys, we feel, have very good upside. They’re good athletes but they’re also smart kids, they’re competitive kids…Larnel did a nice job through the postseason, too, his All-Star game. We’re excited to get them, we think they have a lot of potential.”
That genuinely seems to be the theme of the 2021 Dolphins draft class. Words you’ll hear over and over again: Smart. Athletes. Upside. And to a man, all of the draftees seem to echo some version of what Coleman said once he realized he’d been drafted by Miami:
“I just can’t wait to get down there and work,” Coleman said. As Brian Flores will remind us, “There's joy in hard work — this is it. And this is just the beginning. Trust me on that one.” As camp starts for Coleman, he’ll have every opportunity to learn, impress, and continue his growth as a member of the Miami Dolphins.
By: Tanner Elliott
One of the more interesting names heading into camp is Wilson. Will he be on the roster? Can he return to his 2018 form? The answer to both of these questions is yes, and if Wilson performs well in training camp he has the ability to carve out a nice role for himself. Wilson has the explosiveness and YAC ability that this offense desperately needs and would be a great guy to go to when we run RPOs. If Wilson cna develop a good chemistry with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa during training camp, then he will turn some heads early in the year.
Igbinoghene had an up and down rookie season. He had some good moments (against Jacksonville) and some bad moments (against Buffalo week two). This was expected from Igbinoghene as he was seen as a raw prospect with a ton of athletic ability and upside who would need time to adjust to the NFL. During the offseason he has been training with Xavien Howard in hopes to improve his technique. Not only has he been training with the other defensive backs, but rocked some awesome sunglasses during OTAs. It will be interesting to see if Igbinoghene flashes some of the potential the Dolphins coaching staff sees during training camp and preseason.
Ahmed was a pleasant surprise when he was thrown into the fire last season. When Myles Gaskin went down and Ahmed came in, many Dolphins fans were worried that Miami’s run game would be nonexistent. In the four games Ahmed started in, he had 62 carries, 252 yards and two touchdowns. He showed flashes of potential and averaged 4.25 yards per carry on his 75 carries through the season. With Gaskin being the all purpose back, Ahmed can carve out a nice role for himself due to his speed. It will be interesting to see if Ahmed starts to take some carries from Gaskin due to that.
Some fans may not remember Biegel as he missed all of the 2020-2021 season with a torn Achilles. However, when we acquired him by a trade with the New Orleans Saints, Biegel was one of the few bright spots on the 2019-2020 team. With the addition of Jaelan Phillips, Biegel may not run with the first team as much as he would like, but I expect Brian Flores to rotate pass rushers frequently in season. This could mean that Biegel could be put in positions to excel in the limited action he gets such as Andrew Van Ginkel did last year.
During his rookie season, Jones was thrown into the fire and exceeded the expectations of many Dolphins fans. Now with Bobby McCain gone, Jones has the opportunity to plan an even bigger role this year. Jones showed he has the ability to stop the run and play the pass so he can line up anywhere Flores puts him. The addition of Javon Holland should not tamper with his playing time, and expect to see both players on the field at the same time frequently.
By: Jason Sarney
Organized team activities continued with the Miami Dolphins this week and a pair of NFL veterans took some time on Friday afternoon to meet with Miami media. Following a morning talk with Coach Brian Flores and press, Jerome Baker and William Fuller updated the group on OTAs.
In the morning session, coach Flores had a chance to talk some shop and discussed nuances of inside slot corner play versus outside on the boundary when discussing the development of 2nd-year player Noah Igbinoghene. Flores mentioned other corners who have excelled in the slot role and their development, leading with a third-year undrafted player who is not even a pure inside corner.
"Obviously speed and quickness and the ability to tackle," Flores said to describe attributes needed at this position. Flores then added, "Nik Needham is growing in that role.” He then mentioned free agent Justin Coleman and Jamal Perry as well. Perhaps an early depth chart at the slot area?
He also discussed the progress of Robert Hunt, playing guard or tackle. Regarding the NFL sophomore Flores said, "he has a chance to be a solid offensive lineman, whether that's guard, that's tackle, that's the left side, that's the right side." Flores then said that they will play "the best 5," on that line.
Before Coach Flores headed back to practice, he was asked about Jerome Baker, and Flores praised his linebacker leader saying, "love Jerome, made a lot of improvements, really in all areas.” Flores did not end there saying, “he's a team guy, that's the thing I like the most about him…we're excited to have him."
(We will get a link to the hat soon....)
Baker who was drafted by the Dolphins in 2018 in the 3rd round from Ohio State University, is in the final year of his rookie contract. No time was wasted when Jerome sat down, as the first question was less a question as much as it was a request. Baker was asked to “blink twice” if there had been any talks of an extension and following a laugh it became extremely obvious where the linebacker stands in the contractual sense.
“Oh yea, I want to play here for the rest of my career. I love it here. I love the fans here. I love everything." He expressed his joy playing with his teammates and focused on football and not the financials. “The contract stuff is the contract stuff. I really don't care for it right now,” he said. “I just missed being out here with all the guys."
He once again had an opportunity to talk long-term plans, and simply said, "I love this team, I love being out here...I just love being on this team."
I think the proper people got the memo…
Baker has been a leader on the field for Miami since his rookie season and one of the few remaining Dolphins from a previous regime that will remain nameless. In his three years, Baker has racked up 317 total tackles, 11.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 10 Passes defended, 4 forced fumbles and a score on one of those picks. He also has 20 QB hits to his credit and his consistent blitzing ability helps the entire unit.
Baker, a candidate to be a captain, explains what makes him a leader saying, “for me, ever since I was young, it's been the same. You lead by example." As a leader of a potential top-end defense again in 2021 following last year’s emergence, Baker made it clear saying, "ultimately what I want for this defense is to be one of the best in the league."
Baker could very well be someone the Dolphins could entertain extending in-season, as several players have a status for next year that could be classified as, “up in the air.”
Speaking of air…
Fuller, who like another Miami Gardens addition in Formula-1 racing, has blazing speed and a terrific opportunity to market in South Florida. Fuller is a hard-working, silent-leader type of a guy, who has Philadelphia and Notre Dame upbringing. That tells anyone two things. Smart and though. In no certain order.
These were words I choose prior to hearing Coach Flores use the identical ones in his earlier presser as he said, "He's smart, he's tough, he's talented.” Flores added, "team first guy." The knock with Fuller is not anything to do with skill or being a good teammate rather the inability to stay in the field a full season. In his five NFL seasons, he has not logged 16 games, and he will not play in all 17 games this season due to finishing up a suspension, and missed Week 1.
Regardless of this, Fuller is massively productive when on the field, and one of the best deep-route runners in the game. Last season, he had a 16.6 yards per reception mark, and scored 8 touchdowns on 53 catches and 879 yards in just 11 games. Adding Fuller as a flanker in addition to rookie Jaylen Waddle, paired with outside threats DeVante Parker and Preston Williams creates a nightmare for opposing defenses. Let alone adding to a slot presence with tight end Mike Gesicki and wide receiver Lynn Bowden, Jr.
To give a small example on the value of Fuller to a QB, in the last three seasons, his average QB rating when thrown to, was 122.3 for that passer. Last season in those 8 games he helped the passer earn a 134.2 rating when targeting him. This is certainly a stat to make 2nd-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa smile.
When asked why choosing Miami, Fuller said, "this was my first free agency. I wanted to go to a team that wanted me, and the Dolphins showed the most interest." He added, "It's been easy to be here." Coach Flores is clearly happy to have him saying, "as an overall talent, you know, obviously very good speed, but good hands, good after the catch. Good route runner. Smart. Could play multiple positions."
That Formula-1 type speed is all over the track, er, field it seems. When asked about playing with rookie speedster Jaylen Waddle, Fuller gave an appropriate “Dolphin Answer.” "You can't teach speed and we do have that on this team, not just me and Waddle." Fuller added, "we are going to do what the coaches ask of us, and we are going to make stuff happen."
Sure some answers were cliché to the recent pressers, but another phrase was uttered yet again, which is appropriate for this team and many players on it…
“Day by Day."
By: Chip Turner
This is the second of a two-part article series on Gerrid Doaks. The first article can be found here.
Gerrid Doaks is a power back out of Cincinnati, and as I wrote previously, he runs with violence. So why is he the right fit for Miami? To take a look at where this is going, let’s first take a look at where we’ve been.
In 2020, the Miami Dolphins signed Free Agent Jordan Howard. He was the short-yardage back Miami needed to keep defenses honest. He represented one of my favorite quotes ever, by Leroy Hoard. “Coach,” he said, “if you need a yard, I’ll get you three. If you need five yards, I’ll get you three.” And that’s really what Howard was supposed to bring to the table. Sure, he was an upright runner and he’d had a shoulder injury, but there was still some gas left in the tank, right?
As it turned out, no. Jordan Howard had a positively abysmal year, averaging just 1.2 yards per carry in 2020 for Miami. Was it a lingering issue with his shoulder? Simple wear and tear of an NFL career? It’s hard to say. But in the end, Miami lacked a power run game that was desperately needed to wear down opposing defenses and keep them honest, and it cost them.
For 2021, Miami signed Malcolm Brown in Free Agency, and then doubled down and drafted Gerrid Doaks in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. It appears that Brian Flores is dead set on having a power element to a RB committee.
So what does Doaks bring to Miami? In a word, toughness. His limited film at Cincinnati is a showcase of defenders making long-term business decisions about their health. Make no mistake; Doaks isn’t going to win track meets, although he’s fast enough to get chunk yardage. He’s never going to make a highlight reel with a jump cut that breaks someone’s ankles, although he’s shiftier than you’d think for a guy of his size. He has good vision and footwork, and he’s a good pass blocker, too. But what is he, really?
What he is…is a hammer. And when you’re a hammer of a running back in the NFL, everyone else looks like a nail. He leans forward into contact, lowering his pads into opponents. DBs coming in from an angle meet a lowered shoulder first. You can look for yourself; his film is littered with tacklers diving for his ankles or making “olé” tackles where they drape themselves onto him in passing rather than meeting him head-on.
Again, he’s exactly what Miami needs to keep defenses honest. And although he’s said in an interview that he’d love to have a meal with Marshawn Lynch, he doesn’t compare himself to Lynch. He’s emphasized that he’s just going to be the best Gerrid Doaks he can be. It’s become a cliché to make an NFL comparison for virtually every running back coming out of college, but in this case, I’ll certainly make an exception. In studying the current Dolphins roster and correlating film, I found a very interesting comparison:
Gerrid Doaks’ closest comparison as a running back that I’ve found…is Malcolm Brown.
They’re virtually identical in height, weight, combine/pro day results coming out of college, blocking ability, and of course…they both run with violence between the tackles.
And that’s really what Gerrid Doaks brings to Miami. Depending on how many RB the Dolphins roster, he could be part of a physical, bruising committee that has opposing defenses having second thoughts about their pursuit. That not only means business decisions for opponents, but good days ahead for the Miami Dolphins.
By: Tanner Elliott
The case of whether Albert Wilson should be on the roster this year is one of the more talked about situations this offseason. Adding play-makers like Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle did not help Wilson’s case of making the team either. Although some may have already discredited Wilson from making the team, here is why you should not, and even get ready for a breakout year from him.
When Miami first signed Wilson, we all wondered if he would be able to produce big plays and after the catch. He did not disappoint in his limited action. In seven games (three starts) he had 26 catches, 391 yards, and four touchdowns. That may not be the best stat line, but we all know what he did against the Chicago Bears in week six.
Wilson won that game for Miami and for Dolphin fans, it was a glimpse of what the veteran could do. Unfortunately, he hurt his hip the following week and did not play the rest of the year. After Wilson got cleared to play for the 2019 season, he started in four games while playing in 13. The three games he missed that season were due to his hip, and even his production did not match what it was in 2018. This was due to his hip still nagging him and not being fully recovered. As we know, a nagging hip injury can affect a player a lot more than assumed, just look at Tua Tagovailoa for example. The hip injury was very noticeable and most fans noticed Wilson was not playing like his normal, speedy self.
The 2020 season Albert Wilson chose to opt out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the smartest decision that Wilson may have made during his football career. He said that the decision to opt out was not easy and did it for his family’s health and safety. Not only did opting out to protect his family, but it gave him the chance to fully recover his hip. This is huge for Wilson as he can now play the way he did in 2018. During OTA’s, Wilson has been getting rave reviews about how well he has looked. Not only has Wilson looked back to his former self during OTAs but he was also working out with his new quarterback Tua all offseason. If Wilson can keep playing the way he is, do not be surprised if Wilson becomes an impact player this season.
By: Jason Sarney
After a week of organized team activities, the Miami Dolphins had outstanding attendance in what are truly optional workouts. Numerous young Dolphins introduced themselves on the practice field, several veterans said hello again, and we all over-reacted to simple drills. Also, the practice visor and backwards hat are both trending on my social media feed.
While the attendance was well over 50 percent of the current 91 players under contract (or will be when the remaining four rookies sign) the Dolphins will eventually have to trim to 53. There will also be 16 practice squad slots. These slots have some tweaked eligibility requirements thanks to Covid-19, but generally candidates for these spots have to have less than two seasons of accrued NFL tenure. Allen Hurns will not be eligible for this, for example.
So, we need to trime those numbers. Names will be left off and that’s what happens when a young team of developing players are ahead of the curve in several cases. The following roster build is merely conjecture on my part, and a fun early-June exercise. A lot can happen in the summer months heading into training camp at the end of July.
I’ll do my best to create an organized, and logical construction of this 2021 team, mainly by looking into the future.
Allow me to explain: When you build, you need a core, a solid foundation. The last two drafts are full of 4/5-year contracted players that mix very nicely with a handful of veterans that have the title of “home-grown Dolphins.”
Having laid those parameters, here is the safe core of this team.
Contracts expiring in 2027 – Jason Sanders.
Contracts expiring in 2026* – Jaylen Waddle, Jaelan Phillips
Contracts expiring in 2025- Xavien Howard, Byron Jones, Tua Tagovailoa*, Austin Jackson*, Noah Igbinoghene*, Larnel Coleman, Gerrid Doaks, Jevon Holland, Liam Eichenberg, Hunter Long
After those heavy deals and rookie contracts, we need to find more of those veterans both drafted by Miami as well as signed or traded for recently.
The drafted Dolphins with contracts expiring in 2024
DeVante Parker, Jakeem Grant, Christian Wilkins*, Robert Hunt, Raekwon Davis, Brandon Jones, Solomon Kindley, Jason Strowbridge, Blake Ferguson, Malcolm Perry.
* Indicates potential 5th-year options on 1st rounders*
The acquisitions with contracts expiring in 2024:
Benardrick McKinney, Cethan Carter, Zach Sieler, Lynn Bowden Jr.
The drafted Dolphins with contracts expiring in 2023:
Michael Dieter, Andrew Van Ginkel, Myles Gaskin
The acquisitions with contracts expiring in 2023:
Eric Rowe, Jesse Davis, Clayton Fejedelem, Adam Butler, Allen Hurns, Adam Shaheen
The drafted Dolphins WHO WILL BE FREE AGENTS next season
Mike Gesicki, Jerome Baker, Durham Smythe
The acquisitions WHO WILL BE FREE AGENTS next season
Emmanuel Ogbah, Will Fuller, Jacoby Brissett, Albert Wilson, Justine Coleman, Elandon Roberts, Malcolm Brown, Matt Skura, Michael Palardy, Jason McCourtey, Brennan Scarlett, Duke Riley, Mack Hollins, Vince Biegel, D.J. Fluker, Robert Foster, John Jenkins
The significant Undrafted Free Agents/Veterans WHO WILL BE FREE AGENTS next season.
Preston Williams, Nik Needham, Patrick Laird, Salvon Ahmed, Sam Eguavoen
This is a lot to digest so let me make it more palatable. The names you just read are missing a slew of rookies and journeymen who are looking to make a practice squad and potentially, a spot on the active roster as tough as that will be this year. Before listing the camp combatants, you read 61 names which for math majors out there is more than 53 so we are in a bit of trouble.
Back to that practice squad rule:
I’m sending Malcolm Perry down as well as Larnel Coleman and Jason Strowbridge for development.
We are down to 58.
Next, I am looking at potential camp cuts, and we can look at the receiver room. In my opinion, and only that, I think Allen Hurns and Jakeem Grant can do well, somewhere, however it’s a bit crowded in Miami’s group of wide-outs. So we need to say goodbye to a pair of veterans some way via trade, if possible, or simple release/cut.
The drafting of Hunter Long at tight end means that he, Gesicki AND Smythe will all not be in the same room next season for sure, and it would not surprise me to see one of the three veteran tight ends who have significant experience being dealt/cut/what-have-you prior to Week 1.
I am not naming a specific situation, but I can safely predict a TE being let go.
We need to now look at NON-LOCKs for this team, and those you could call “camp bodies.”
And they are:
Roberts Jones, Kai Locksley, Trill Williams, Jibri Blount, Jaytlin Askew, Jerome Johnson, Carl Tucker, Jonathan Ledbetter, Terrell Bonds, Chris Myrick, Durval Neto, Brian Cole II, Javaris Davis, Nick Coe, Tyshun Render, Jonathan Hubbard, Kylan Johnson, Kirk Merritt, Rex Sunahara, Jordan Scarlett, Tyler Gauthier, Tino Ellis, Jamal Perry, Nate Holley, Timon Parris, Reid Sinnett, Tom Cameron, Calvin Munson, Benito Jones, Adam Pankey
That’s 30 plus the original 61 = 91
Lynn Bowden, Jr.
wait for it...
Andrew Van Ginkel
Specialists on ST Coverage Units/return teams:
TOTAL = 53
Practice Squad predictions should no other team claim them:
And there you have it – the bound to not be correct, predictive 2021 Miami Dolphins roster.
By: Tanner Elliott
With Madden 22 around the corner, it is always interesting to speculate what players will be the highest rated. We take a look at the speculated top five highest overall players for the Miami Dolphins in Madden 22.
Xavien Howard - 98 overall
Howard is arguably the best corner in the game, and after being the only corner that was considered for Defensive Player of the Year, he deserves to be the highest ranked corner in the game. Some people say that Howard was only good because Byron Jones was across from him or that he is only an interception guy. But if you look at the advanced stats, that is far from the truth. This does not mean that Howard will not reach a 99 overall at some point in the season. If he has another season like he did last year, expect him to join the 99 club early in the year.
Jason Sanders - 97 overall
One of the most underrated players in the league should finally get some recognition from Madden this year. This past year Sanders did not miss an extra point and only missed three out of 39 field goal attempts last season. His first missed attempt of the season came in week 10. Not only has he shown his incredible accuracy, but he also has the power to make some of the longer kicks, with his career high of 56 yards.
Mike Gesicki - 90 overall
Dolphins fans finally got a glimpse of the potential that Mike Gesicki has. He has an incredible catch radius and is one of the more athletic tight ends in the NFL. The past two years he started to breakout as he had 104 catches, 1,273 yards, and 11 touchdowns over that span. In addition to that, he can line up in the slot and create a mismatch for defenses. The reason why Gesicki is not rated higher is due to his blocking. Even though he is improving every year, his blocking is still not the best.
Emmanuel Ogbah - 86 overall
Ogbah had one of the best seasons for an edge rusher for the Dolphins since Cameron Wake. He started the year off hot as he had eight sacks in the first nine games. Unfortunately, teams caught on and his production dipped later in the season. That being said he had an overall good year finishing with nine sacks, 42 tackles, 21 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. With Miami bolstering their pass rush this past offseason, expect Ogbah to be the dominant force he was mid last season.
Andrew Van Ginkel - 84 overall
Van Ginkel came onto the scene last year in Miami’s defense. AVG had a multitude of big plays last season, most notably the fumble returned for a touchdown against the Rams and the blocked punt against the Chargers. This was the first year where AVG really had a role in the defense and he was so effective the Dolphins were comfortable enough to cut Kyle Van Noy to give AVG more playing time. Expect AVG to take another huge jump this season as Miami will not only utilize him more but put him in better situations/ matchups to win.
By: Chip Turner
The difficulty, in the end, is relinquishing any pretense that our personal opinions carry even the slightest bit of weight toward what our favorite teams do. As Dolphins fans, we all wanted a “big-name” running back in the 2021 NFL Draft. We did our homework, researched a plethora of backs, and figured out who we thought would be best for Miami. Najee Harris. Javonte Williams. Rhamondre Stevenson. Trey Sermon. As the draft rounds progressed, we saw those familiar names drop off the board, finding homes outside Miami. And we understood that what we wanted didn’t really matter.
And then, at the end of the third day, we also realized that no matter how much you research, how hard you scout, and how prepared you think you are, there’s going to be a surprise – someone you’re not familiar with. The Miami Dolphins selected Gerrid Doaks with the 244th overall pick in the seventh round. I had already left Cleveland, driving home, listening to NFL Radio when I heard it announced, and I racked my brain. As often happens when I rack my brain nothing of value presented itself. So I had to pull off the highway and look it up:
Who the blue heck is Gerrid Doaks?
It turns out that Gerrid Doaks is a lesser-known example of precisely what I’ve been suggesting that the Dolphins need; a power back who can get tough yards needed between the tackles. And honestly, shame on me for not knowing him better.
Fortunately, there’s information out there on Doaks for those who care to look. In fact, some of the information is from Doaks himself. He started his own YouTube channel, chronicling the process leading up to the draft; his most recent video “I got drafted! #MiamiDolphins” can be found here. It’s refreshingly professional, while giving a personal insight into what draft prospects go through in the weeks and months leading up to the draft.
Game film on Doaks is a little harder to find (and yes, I’m using this as an excuse for why I didn’t know him better). The main reason for this is that he simply wasn’t utilized all that frequently at Cincinnati; he had a total of 331 carries from 2017-2020 (he missed 2018 with an injury). But when he runs, he runs with violence. He’s a bruiser who averaged 5.2 yards per carry over his career at Cincinnati. The Miami Dolphins desperately needed a back like this after a 2020 season that saw Jordan Howard fail spectacularly as a power back. Enter Malcolm Brown and Gerrid Doaks. We’ll examine more of what he brings to the table for Miami in a future article.
As far as Gerrid Doaks the person? Nearly every interview with him has emphasized one point; he’s going to do whatever it takes to make Miami a better team. He’s saying all the right things, smiling, and displaying the right attitude. Will Doaks be the next great running back for the Miami Dolphins? Only time will tell. But one thing set him apart for me; it’s the first thing I saw when I tried to get the answer to “who the blue heck is Gerrid Doaks?”
It was a Tweet he made on the second night of the NFL draft. It wasn’t about frustration over not being drafted. It wasn’t about high 39” vertical at his Pro Day (which would have been better than all but two backs at the 2020 NFL combine). It wasn’t about how tough of a runner he was.
Instead, it was this:
Team first. It seems his attitude is genuine, and it’s undoubtedly one of the things that got him noticed, and drafted, by the Miami Dolphins
By: Jason Sarney
Prior to rosters changing and trimming through the summer, odds will no doubt change in laces like Vegas on virtual books across the internet. Now is a terrific time to find the best odds for a team you want to “invest in” before those numbers change to hinder potential profit.
Post June-1st time in the NFL means that at any moment, a team could cut ties with a veteran and hence seeing that player get picked up on another team. With the amount of moves and cuts heading into the summer’s training camp, it is a certainty that odds will fluctuate before a football is even kicked off in September.
The AFC East is currently a tricky division with the Bills as the favorites. The Dolphins are doing everything in their power to match them, while New England may be heading for a regression and NY starts a new build.
The Division may belong to Buffalo, sure, but what about the Dolphins Playoff Odds? As you will see here, on Sports Betting Dime, the Dolphins are a decent money maker with odds to “make the playoffs” at +130. The Bills, a virtual shoe-in to make the playoffs have odds of -375.
The Jets are a massive playoff long-shot at +490 and that is what happens with a new head coach and a rookie QB. The Patriots are in Miami’s boat of similar odds to make the playoffs, as they currently sit at +137.
So when dissecting the odds, at the moment, Miami seems like a solid bet to finish 2nd in the AFC, which would make them in the hunt of course for one of those Wild Card spots. That additional playoff slot, as well as the 17th regular season game, could be factors in helping Miami, a 10-win team from last season who missed the playoffs, get over the hump and make the post-season tournament.
The time is now, with the playoff potential there for Miami, and the odds getting you more money in return than most teams who can be viewed as playoff “contenders.” Should Miami bring in another player, such as say a Melvin Ingram, those odds could dip ever-so-slightly. However, in the world of betting, days or even hours can mean a loss of potential dollars.
By: Tanner Elliott
The SimBengals are the most expensive team on SimNFL. Yes you read that right, the highest price per share at $64.87 (at the time of writing this). This is very overpriced as the Bengals are a very young team, coaching staff, and a below average offensive line. It seems like the investors are betting on Joe Burrow becoming one of the top NFL quarterbacks as well as the entire team progressing. The Bengals are due for a setback in SimNFL unless they somehow go undefeated for the next three years. Due to this if you own SimBengals you should sell ASAP.
Verdict: Strong Sell
The SimBrowns are the tenth most expensive team in SimNFL after coming off one of their best seasons to date. With the addition of Jadeveon Clowney in free agency, while not losing key players in free agency, the Browns may repeat last season. If Baker Mayfield plays at an even higher level this year, the Browns could win the AFC North. When it comes to their value in SimNFL, the Browns are a very interesting team both now and in the future. Currently, the Browns are in a good position to give an investor win payouts while in the future offers them a higher price point if they can keep their core together.
The SimRavens are the seventh most expensive team in SimNFL and still offer investors a good return on investment. During the offseason, the Ravens got Lamar Jackson some more weapons while keeping the defense in tack. Just like the SimBrowns, the SimRavens offers investors a chance to get some good win-pays while increasing their worth overtime. While if the Ravens will keep up with the Browns is another story, or if they will even live up to the seventh highest price expectations, the SimRavens should be a good choice.
The SimSteelers are surprisingly the cheapest team in the AFC North and the 25th most expensive team in SimNFL. This is probably because of their late season collapse last season and the lack of faith in Ben Roethlisberger and the team after he retires. The Steelers have a ton of holes especially on the offensive line and on defense. They did draft Najee Harris in the first round of the draft to boost their run game but it may not be enough due to the offensive line. In SimNFL, the Steelers may offer some win payouts in the next couple seasons but after that not much. It may be smarter to hold onto them and hope in four to five years they go back to their dominant selves.