By: Jason Sarney
After months of speculation, guessing, predictions and false rumors, the 53-man Miami Dolphin roster is built…for now. The NFL had a deadline to trim rosters, and after a flurry of moves both cuts and trades, the 2020 Miami Dolphin roster is set, with a young team full of sub-25-year-olds who are hungry to show their talent.
Perhaps the shock of is all was the finality of Josh Rosen’s career in Miami, which many speculated would result in a trade. While no NFL suitor bit on Miami’s offering, the former top-10 quarterback pick from two draft’s ago was released and will now look for his third NFL team in as many seasons.
Another surprise, but more on the pleasant variety, was the shocking acquisition of rookie do-it-all star, Lynn Bowden Jr. out of Kentucky. The 80th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft joins a Miami offense of versatile threats on the ground and in the air, as Bowden can do both. Bowden was the recipient of the Paul Hornung Award in 2019 which is awarded to the NCAA’s most versatile player. As a player who caught, ran, threw, and returned…this award fit the Wildcat like a glove.
I digress…. yet marvel at the possibilities of an offense with Bowden, Matt Breida and Malcolm Perry in that famous offensive set with those pure-breed outside receivers in Preston Williams and DeVante Parker.
To give you an idea of the now 10-player fraternity of Hornung award winners, a trio of talent who hoisted that award are guys like Odell Beckham Jr, and the consensus #1 and #2 back-to-back 2020 fantasy picks in the NFL, Christian McCaffery and Saquon Barkley.
With Bowden becoming the 6th wide-receiver for the Dolphins, as he is tagged on Miami social media productions, he joins Williams and Parker as well as Jakeem Grant, Isaiah Ford and the versatile Mack Hollins.
Interestingly enough, rookie Malcolm Perry, who was getting heavy work in training camp at the slot position among others, is listed as a running back, yet wears the number 10.
This could be a tip of the hand scenario for Miami, especially with the release of Josh Rosen as Perry could now act as a 3rd emergency quarterback, thus opening up a valuable roster spot for young positional talent on either side of the ball.
With a quarterback Buddy-Film in the making of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick and rookie incumbent Tua Tagovailoa, rostering a pure 3rd quarterback does not make all that much sense, considering there are at least two position players that can be called upon in a break-the-glass condition to take snaps in a pinch.
As for the running back room, newly acquired Breida will handle many 3rd down pass-receiving situations and should factor in nicely with around a dozen or so actual carries a game to complement Jordan Howard.
Howard, who is used to training in the South Florida sun, could be the grinding type of lead-securing runner Miami needs desperately. A guy like Howard can turn a four-point lead with 8:00 minutes to go, into an 11-point victory after a last-minute touchdown on the goal-line ices the opponents…. hopefully on the road up North in December.
Fullback Chandler Cox enters year two, and hopes to see the field more than he did in his rookie year and 2nd-year runners Myles Gaskin and Patrick Laird add depth to the room as well.
The success of the running game and overall offense is directly correlated with the offensive line. A line that is still yet to be solidified, with a new group of free agents and rookies that need to mix with a returning veteran like Jesse Davis and second year guard/center project Michael Dieter and 4th year tackle Julién Davenport. Tackle Adam Pankey enters his third season and is joined by rookie linemen, Austin Jackson, and Robert Hunt.
The guards are made up of free agent and former top-10 pick, Miami hometown-hero Ereck Flowers. Ex-Patriot and league veteran Ted Karras, is a center who will be a valuable mentor to a young line. Impressive rookie, Solomon Kindley is looking like a very solid guard and rounds out the blocking group.
The extension of the line are a few tight ends that will make more money blocking than catching in newly acquired Adam Shaheen and vet Durham Smythe. The receiver labeled tight end, Mike Gesicki, will be lined up off the line mainly, and could see several slot snaps as well as outside the numbers opportunities to utilize his athleticism.
Defensively, the Dolphins are looking best from the secondary down. The loaded unit has two luxury items in Xavien Howard and free agent signing Byron Jones. With stellar youthful depth at the position, as well as the fact a Brian Flores coached secondary is in need of several lock-down corners, 2nd year undrafted up-and-comer, Nik Needham is competing with rookie 1st-rounder Noah Igbinoghene for overall snaps and specific nickel-corner duties.
At the moment, with Xavien Howard uncertain to play Week 1 against New England in just seven days, this depth is paramount for a full season of success for Miami. The recent rumor of a trade idea of Needham, which was not substantiated by any viable source, is not prudent based on the depth Flores commands in his secondary.
The depth is also helped by Jamal Perry as the corners are joined by safeties Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Clayton Fejedelem and rookie Brandon Jones. Kavon Frazier, who was named Special Teams captain, is part of that safety group as well.
Moving to the linebacking corps, which took a huge pre-season hit after Vince Biegel suffered a practice injury ending his 2020, the group is youthful and full of potential.
Free agents Kamu Grugier-Hill, Elandon Roberts and leader Kyle Van Noy all have played for Flores, so they know they come to a system with familiarity. Calvin Munson and Sam Eguavoen are both NFL sophomores who earned another season after an impressive camp.
Andrew Van Ginkel could see plenty of reps this season due to the Biegel injury mixed with the recent trade a week ago of Raekwon McMillian to Las Vegas. Van Ginkel came on strong in 2019 following a foot injury and had a solid December.
Jerome Baker, who enters his third and most important season as a Dolphin, has the potential to be a viable team producer and leader within this team.
Rounding out the defense is the group that can make this unit dominate, and that is the trench-men on the line and those who are tasked with rushing the passer, or at least helping others do so.
That defensive line is built from the middle out, with veteran Davon Godchaux in a contract year leading the group. After a gradually improving and solid rookie season, young leader Christian Wilkins looks to continue his rise and is joined by Zach Sieler and rookie draft-day steal, Raewkon Davis from Alabama.
The pass-rushers are all new, in free agents Shaw Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah with rookie Jason Strowbridge from North Carolina. Setting the edge is paramount for this defense, and these vets will help in that task immensely.
Finishing up the 53-man rosters are the specialists in long snapping rookie Blake Ferguson, Punter Matt Haack and his partner on the famous “Mountaineer Shot” touchdown, place-kicker Jason Sanders.
Up next in the 2020 team building process is finding out on Sunday who the practice squad players are. And if last season was any indication, a name or two who could be on that practice group, could be on Miami’s 53-man roster in 2021…or sooner.
You can follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman and on YouTube on The Fin Addicts Network