By: Jason Sarney
When looking at the areas of the Miami Dolphins that need improvement, mainly from the last few seasons, look no further than the offensive line. During last week’s free agency windfall, the offensive line added two key components to improve as a group. A group that was ranked close to the bottom of the league in 2019.
In terms of yards per carry the offensive line gave to their ball-carriers, the Dolphins rotational group collectively ranked 31st in the league with a mere 3.3 yards a rush attempt.
They were 25th in the league with just 10 seasonal rushing scores and they tied for worst in the league in terms of sacks allowed with 58. That’s an average of 3.6 sacks per game.
Miami needed help and that arrived in the form of 6’6’’ 330 lb. guard, Ereck Flowers. The Miami product now will have the opportunity to play “all three levels” in Miami, high school, NCAA, and NFL.
Flowers was a product of Miami Norland High School and attended the University of Miami as a Hurricane. After being drafted in the 1st round by the New York Giants in 2015, the 9th overall selection spent a year in Jacksonville and last season as a Redskin.
While playing guard mainly, Flowers has the versatility to play tackle, and although the plan for him is not yet set in stone, it is likely Flowers will command the left guard position. He will line up with another new veteran on the line to his right, in center Ted Karras.
Flowers was asked what makes for good offensive line play, and the hometown hero said, then added, “Preparation. That’s from coaching to the players in both aspects; being on the same page, with most o-line players, its muscle memory."
That preparation has started, even at home during this new world we are living in with the Covid-19 scare. Miami fans can be confident that Flowers is, "putting the work in," he stated. Fitness and dealing with the Miami heat and humidity should not worry Flowers, as he is adapted to the South Florida climate and even will be utilizing his home training devices plenty.
"I actually have a Peloton,” Flowers said, as the Zoom interview session came to a close. Flowers comes home with a brand new three-year deal, and he hopes to fit in like he never even left the state, as he helps pedal the Dolphins to an eventual Super Bowl finish line within those contracted years.
By: Brandon Liguori
Fix the offensive and defensive lines, draft the franchise-changing quarterback in April and hope for a successful, injury-free football season. These three tasks seem simple yet are quite difficult.
As the 2020 new league year officially began last Wednesday at 4 p.m., the Miami Dolphins made it official, signing Ereck Flowers to a three-year deal, Shaq Lawson to a three-year contract, Kyle Van Noy to a 4-year deal, Byron Jones to a five-year contract, Jordan Howard to a two-year deal, Clayton Fejedelem to a three-year deal, Emmanuel Ogbah to a two-year deal, Ted Karras to a one-year deal, Kamu Grugier-Hill to a one-year deal and Elandon Roberts to a one-year deal.
Three former Patriots (Van Noy, Karras, Roberts) will reunite with current head coach Brian Flores this upcoming season, who spent his entire coaching career in New England. Flowers, the former Miami Hurricane, spent four seasons with the New York Giants, before playing one season in Washington.
Starting all 16 games a season ago for the Redskins, Flowers is positioned to hold the starting left guard spot for Miami in 2020. Lawson, who was mainly a backup during his four seasons in Buffalo, will compete for a starting spot on the defensive side of the football.
Van Noy, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots, will likely share linebacker duties with Ohio State products Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan, but has the potential to play any position on the defensive side. A year after Xavien Howard received the highest-paid contract for a cornerback, the Dolphins will pay Byron Jones $82.5 million over the next five years.
Miami, however, hopes Howard can stay on the field on a consistent basis, as the former 2018 Pro-Bowler has missed 15 games over the past two seasons due to knee injuries. Miami’s ground game as a team in 2019 was one to forget, allowing them to grab Howard, the former Philadelphia Eagle who sustained a shoulder injury that cut his 2019 season short.
Howard will likely handle the running back duties in 2020, as Kenyan Drake was shipped to the Arizona Cardinals a season ago and Kalen Ballage struggled heavily, but do not be surprised if Miami uses a first or even second-round selection on a highly-graded running back, as the Dolphins hold five total picks within the first two rounds.
This morning, when speaking to media members, Howard said he is “back 100%” from his shoulder injury. C Ted Karras, who worked with Tom Brady his entire career, will get a chance to work with Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or if Miami decides to draft Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa or any other quarterback left on the board.
Karras said this morning he received a couple of offers from other teams but was ultimately drawn to the Dolphins in part because of Brian Flores. All of Miami’s newest FA signings shared a mutual love and respect for Flores, who showed promise in his first full season as a professional head coach. Yes, the Dolphins opened the season 0-7 but concluded with five wins in their final nine games with practically a practice squad-like roster.
As Tom Brady’s historic 20-year run with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots came to a surprising close, moving to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the message now becomes clear: the AFC East is officially a wide-open division.
By Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins are bringing in more defensive help to bolster their defensive line, and edge rusher Shaq Lawson is the former 1st round pick that now leaves a rival in the Buffalo Bills to help that unit.
Lawson, who is a draft-class mate of fellow recent Miami acquisition Emmanuel Ogbah in 2016, was the 16th overall pick out of Clemson. This means he has Dolphins-ties, of course to another defensive lineman with collegiate Tiger stripes, non-other than Christian Wilkins.
Lawson was also a former roommate at Hargrave Military Academy with Miami defensive back Cordrea Tankersley, who of course, attended Clemson as well.
Surely a background at Hargrave, as well as familiarity with numerous new teammates will make Lawson a locker-room voice and field general, so-to-speak.
When asked about that aspect of his game, being leadership and his overall mindset on his teammates Lawson said, “they are going to see that from day one when I come in the building. I’m very competitive, always want to win. “I feel like I’ve never had a bad day in the locker room.”
There is no reason not to believe it, and any former rival coming aboard a new unit will undoubtedly be a valuable resource in future battles. Specifically, on the cold, enemy whatever-turf of Buffalo.
While in Buffalo for four seasons, his sack numbers were mortal, as he averaged about four a year to total 16.5 on his career. In a theme similar to Miami fans recently, there has been a lack of a formidable pass-rush since the healthy days of Cameron Wake, and even the we-hardly-knew-you days of Oliver Vernon, not to mention Jason Taylor.
Lawson will help “set the edge,” which he says is a call to duty more important than it sounds. Lawson said, "I take pride in that. You don’t want to get out of your gap.”
To me, it sounds like Lawson is the type of guy that would lay on a wire for a teammate so he could cross the line of scrimmage and get to the quarterback without any self-fanfare.
Lawson is a high-energy, highly competitive leader, which comes to no surprise to those tracking what type of person and player is coveted by the defensive-minded head coach of the Dolphins Brian Flores.
It's players like Lawson, who will take their job as seriously as can be, to achieve a common team goal that are being added to this team.
This is becoming a pattern that has been developing for a year in Miami, and the acquisition of Lawson is proof positive that there is a new Sheriff in town in Flores that Miami fans haven’t been used to in decades. And apparently, he knows exactly what type of soldier he is looking to deploy on his field of battle.
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins brought in 10 free agents last week, and perhaps one of the biggest in terms of on-field presence, as well as personality and performance, very well may be linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
Van Noy is part of a free-agent haul that includes three former New England teammates of his. As stated throughout this afternoon of interviews, Van Noy reunites once again with Ten Karras, and fellow linebackers Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill.
Van Noy is a self-proclaimed “football player.”
Don’t tag his with a position on the field, as he stated with a confident bravado this team needs with leadership and rings to back it up…” roll the ball out there.”
Van Noy began that phrase by saying, “I am going to go on the plan for me. I envision myself playing everywhere like I've have been. I don't like being called a defensive end or a linebacker but a football player.”
The former BYU standout was drafted by New England in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL draft at pick number 40. He has recorded 17.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and has forced 5 fumbles while recovering 4. His 10 passes defended proves his claim he can do it all, including score, as he has a pair of touchdowns to boot.
Stats don't measure his overall value, as there is certainly a "C" in the future on his jersey.
Of course, another former Patriot under Brian Flores as a New England linebacker coach, Van Noy may just be the president of the coach Flores fan club, which seems to be filling up like a 1960’s Beatles concert.
When asked about the decision on why he signed with Miami and play again for Brian Flores he said, “this is an easy question to answer. I respect him as a coach. What he brings to the table, what he is all about on the field and off.”
He then added, “who doesn’t want to play for a coach like that?”
He said coach Flores brings… “energy each-and-every day and that’s the coach you want to play for.”
Van Noy is aware that he will come in as a leader and do what is needed of him on and off the field which is the exact player and person this organization strives to acquire.
Not only is Van Noy doing all he can to create make-shift workouts during a health pandemic, but he's also doing so safely at a nearby Ranch where his thoughts are the only things he needs to prepare for the 2020 season.
"I can get a workout in. There is a hill I can run and some weights I can lift. It’s me, myself, and I."
Back to the leadership role, and his overall awareness of the times, Van Noy is eager to get to Miami. Van Noy fits Miami like an Isotoner glove. Once he is down in South Florida, he will no doubt bring a passion for the game, as well as his charitable work within the Kyle Van Noy Foundation. And with work like that on Sundays as well as the six other days of the week, he will surely hit a cord with Fin Faithful with hopefully plenty of years worth of memories to comes...and more importantly, wins.
And a ton of jersey sales.
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins entered free agency knowing they needed to improve the pass-rush. Finishing the 2019 season ranked 29th in sacks made this an easy guess in terms of crossing off need entering the upcoming NFL Draft.
The Dolphins brought in a pair of ace pass-rushers last week, one being Emmanuel Ogbah of the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. Although he will be fitted for a ring, Ogbah did not play in the game, hosted in Miami, as he was recovering from a pectoral injury.
Ogbah, who mush have been impressed with his future home digs in Hard Rock Stadium knew it was tough not participating in the contest, yet certainly took in the experience.
"It was definitely tough to watch, but happy for my teammates." "It was a cool experience, the Super Bowl; it was dope!"
Now fully rehabbed, and ready to do as much training as these current times in the world allow, Ogbah is ready to work, as is his new teammate and fellow incoming Dolphin, Shaq Lawson.
The pair of defensive ends were each drafted in the 2016 class, with Ogbah being the 32nd overall pick to the Cleveland Browns, where he spent three seasons and accumulated 12.5 sacks. In 2019 for Kansas City, Ogbah only played in 10 games, yet equaled a yearly-best 5.5 sacks.
Lawson, who was drafted by Buffalo in the same year at 19th overall corroborated with Ogbah via telephone when talking about the 2020 NFL season.
To quote both new additions, as well as former Jet, Bart Scott, they simply, “can’t wait.”
Ogbah takes his talents to Miami Gardens, as he is always thinking and communicating with his family back home in Nigeria. It was clear that Ogbah is living his dream while creating nightmares for opposing Quarterbacks.
What also is clear, is Ogbah’s job and role on the Dolphins which he says is, “doing my part to help this team win. I am here to rush the passer and make this team better."
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins have been missing a power running back for a long time. Not since the days of Ricky Williams, has there been excitement on 3rd and short or 1st and goal from the 2-yard line.
The physical runner that is Jordan Howard comes to the Dolphins after stints with the Eagles as well as the Bears. Drafted by Chicago in 2015 in the 5th round out of Indiana University, Howard has a career yards per rushing attempt of 4.3 and started his career with two straight 1,000-plus yard seasons for the Bears.
Howard has scored 30 touchdowns in his four NFL seasons and looks to bring his power running style to Miami.
Howard, who models his game after the beastly runner that his Marshawn Lynch, describes his style as physical rather than make you miss. It is clear Howard likes to create contact, and that could help the Dolphins when defenders are breaking down in the fourth quarter, as the former Hoosier eluded to.
“I'd rather hit them, then they hit me,” Jordan said as you can almost see the inner smile in him as he imagined pressing his internal truck-stick as if he were playing a video game.
Howard is another free agent coming to Miami, who has heard nothing but good news and reviews about his new coach, Brian Flores. He attributes Flores to the heart the Dolphins showed in their victory against Howard’s former team back in December.
Although Howard didn’t play, he had front row seats to witness Miami defeat the Eagles.
“They had a lot of fight,” Howard said as he went on to speak well about his new organization, it’s coaches and his new teammates.
Howard will become a huge part of what Miami looks to do, that being bringing a power component back to the Dolphins via the run, and Howard is eager to be a big part of that plan.
Stay with us as pass-rush specialist Emmanuel Ogbah, chats with the media on another Zoom live-conference!
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins shocked the NFL world when they signed cornerback Byron Jones to what was, at the time, the highest awarded salary at his position. Second on that list, albeit now third, is current Dolphins Xavien Howard.
The Jones signing brings a potential combo that could be reminiscent of the legendary Dolphin duo of Sam Madison and Pat Surtain from the late 1990’s-early 2000’s.
Jones comes from the Dallas Cowboys, where he sent receivers to an island of limited to zero targets when he checked them, as the new Miami cornerback bookend to Howard, could just make this the best tandem in the league today.
Jones, who was drafted a Cowboy in 2015, can play all over the defensive backfield. A former 1st round pick, the 27th overall selection is a perfect player for coach Brian Flores’ system. The former UConn Huskie had a terrific year for Dallas in 2018, and was a Pro-Bowler as well as being a second-team All-Pro.
Back in 2015, Jones created a buzz at the NFL Scouting Combine, as he set a new world record in the popular drill of the standing broad-jump, by leaping 12-feet, 3-inches. He easily broke the previous record held by Jamie Collins, which was 11-feet, 7-inches.
Broad-jump aside, Jones creates havoc in the secondary, as his blanketing coverage will now send quarterbacks looking the way of receivers checked by Howard, and last year’s undrafted rookie phenom, Nik Needham. The Dolphins have arguably created a triple-headed monster in the defensive backfield, especially with the way Flores rotates and schemes his defensive formations.
Jones stated early what his addition could mean for the Miami secondary, as he boasted, “the most important part is really having no weak links."
Jones shared his excitement of being a new Dolphin as it was obvious, he is ready to come into a young team and be an instant leader. When asked why he chose Miami in free agency, his responses had the same overall mindset.
"I love to idea of joining a young team and being a catalyst for change,” he led with.
As he added to why he signed with Miami, he stated emphatically, "I wanted to be a part of building something special. I like the young roster and I like the coach. For me, it was a good fit."
The fit has a lot to do with Coach Brian Flores, as although they have not met face to face since Jones signed, the new Dolphin has heard nothing but rave reviews of his new head man.
"He's a young coach and I love that. He's got young energy.”
That energy is visible as well as what is heard through the league grapevine. “I hear he's intense, Jones said happily.
He added, "I heard a lot of good things about him around the league,” and “that's exciting for me just to be on a team he's leading.”
Jones concluded his interview with a visible eagerness to become a part of a building process with a young team.
"I am fired up to play for Miami. This is a young team going in the right direction.
As far as what Dolphin fans can expect from their new lock-down corner…
"I can bring leadership and good man-coverage."
"We're going to have some fun."
The live-action continues at 2:00 with running back, Jordan Howard!
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins added veteran leadership from a familiar source in last week’s free agency binge. Former New England center and current Miami Dolphin, Ted Karras, is joining friends down south.
Karras was a Patriot from the start of his career and was drafted in 2016 in the 6th round as the 221st overall pick. Karras is looking forward to getting down to Miami and meeting his old friends and new teammates once the world gets back to normal.
When the current pandemic is over, Karras will see "familiar faces," like Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and a Patriot from a few seasons ago, and yet another new Miami linebacker, Kamu Grugier-Hill.
Karras, who is a leader in his own right, comes to Miami to anchor the line at Center, and no doubt provide mentor-ship and tutelage to younger linemen. Karras himself is a current student, finishing up his degree in business administration.
In terms of reuniting with his former coach in Flores, Karras said, "he's intense and he is prepared to win."
Karras added, "I really respect Coach Flores and I'm glad to be in his organization."
Karras knows firsthand that Flores is a coach who can improve a team quickly, as he was asked about the Dolphins from earlier in the season as a rival, versus their Week 17 contest when he was still a Patriot up in New England.
Karras said while speaking as a former New England center, "Obvious improvement; we (NE) lost the last game." "Was a tough lose for us."
He added in praising his new head coach, “"I think [Coach Flores] is a smart tough coach...." "I am very much looking forward to practicing and playing in his organization."
There was certainly familiarity with being in front of the lense, as Karras is taking Zoom courses while earning that degree while his genes carry entertainment and film credits.
Karras is the nephew of the late Alex Karras who was a former NFL great as a Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions & then actor. You can tell the Karras personality is with Ted, as he was engaging and showed lots of excitement to reunite with Flores as well as those familiar faces.
Speaking of a familiar face, just watch legendary comedy Blazing Saddles to see his uncle as "Mongo," or remember a simpler time in life when Ted’s uncle played the man of the house in Webster, as the iconic TV character, George Papadapolis.
The Dolphins are hoping the nephew of the former NFL great can have similar success in Miami!
Join us at 1:30 PM on Twitter when cornerback Byron Jones meets and greets the Miami media!
Free Agency started out with a bang for the Miami Dolphins and the shots kept coming, which reverberated around the league to the tone of 10 key additions to Coach Brian Flores’ team.
General Manager, Chris Grier, showed patience and poise in this process as several rumored free agent targets were Franchise Tagged. Whether players like Yannick Ngakoue or Joe Thuney were even on Grier’s radar is knowledge only to those with access to Miami front offices, so perhaps they were never part of the plan. With 14 Draft picks in the upcoming Draft, the speculation was that Grier could use them as potential chips to lure a team to deal those tagged players and send them to Miami for contract negotiation.
The plan was not what many assumed, as the Miami front office is proving that there is a specific pattern and plan to their off-season. That plan is to load up on players where there is key need such as cornerback, linebacker, guard and a presence on the edge of the defensive line.
Ten new Miami Dolphins are going to officially say “Fins Up,” to several media and fan sites, as PhinManiacs.com is lucky enough to be able to bring live-Tweet info during 10 separate Zoom-based press conferences.
In a true sign of the times we live in today, stay with us all day as 10 new Dolphins greet us and chat about their football paths, and what it now means to be a part of the Miami Dolphins.
Here is the schedule and make sure to stay with Phin Maniacs all day!
· 11 a.m., LB Elandon Roberts
· 12 p.m., C Ted Karras
· 1 p.m., S Clayton Fejedelem
· 1:30 p.m., CB Byron Jones
· 2 p.m., RB Jordan Howard
· 2:30 p.m., DE Emmanuel Ogbah
· 3:15 p.m., LB Kyle Van Noy
· 4:30 p.m., DE Shaq Lawson
· TBD, T Ereck Flowers
· TBD, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill
By: Jason Sarney
At the start of the Dolphins live Zoom-based teleconference with their new Free Agents, Linebacker and part-time specialist when called upon, Elandon Roberts spoke to several Miami beat writers, and websites for the Fin Faithful on Thursday morning.
Roberts was asked several questions from prominent names in Miami Dolphins reporting and coverage, but before some of his words, let us deep-dive into his career thus far.
The new Dolphin and former Patriot was draft by New England in the 6th round in 2016. The 214th overall selection was utilized in a few different ways by the Patriots over his four seasons there, as he even scored against his new teammates this past December as a fullback Week 17, where he made it appear he was a lead-blocker for who is now his former running back.
Roberts has recorded four sacks, 206 total career tackles and has both forced and recovered a fumble. He has even showed leadership as a defensive captain while in New England last season.
There is no question his relationship with former New England linebackers’ coach and current head coach in Miami, Brian Flores, had much to do with his choice to come to Miami.
Roberts told the media, regarding coach Flores, his decision was made easier by "how good a leader [coach Flores] is on and off the field." and then adds.... "I'm all in, 100% all the way."
Roberts, who like as all is dealing with this current situation in the world as best he can, said that he is... "controlling what I can control." He added that he is....(about staying home) "Doing the right things."
He closed that question with.... "I'm looking forward to getting to my teammates.”
It are those teammates he will one day join, two being fellow teammates from New England and new Dolphins, Kyle Van Noy, Ted Karras and Kamu Grugier-Hill from a few years back. It is then he will be getting assimilated to his new surroundings and football home, while preparing to take things, “one day at a time with the Dolphins,” when asked about their chances in the Tom Brady-less AFC East.
One thing is for sure, and this is directly from Elandon Roberts himself as he closed his interview, “"I love that I'm a Miami Dolphin."
By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins need the next great pass-rusher in the upcoming NFL Draft, which at the moment is set for April 23rd. With a number of viable options to add to the edge pass rush, Miami could be searching for the next Jason Taylor, Cam Wake, or Adewale Ogunleye at the start of Round 3. Highsmith recorded 14 sacks in his final season at Charlotte, in a career that began as a walk-on. He earned a scholarship, and worked as hard as any player to improve and succeed.
His 4.7 40-yard dash time, mixed with his strength and nose for the ball, adds to the potential of him being a possible sack specialist.
Highsmith performed at a high level against premier competition at the Senior Bowl back in January in Mobile, Alabama. He recorded a pair of sacks, and instantly created a buzz and improved his Draft stock. Keep an eye out for this prospect, as the way he handles himself on the field is trumped by the way he handles himself off the field. He is a model human being, and you will never see anything negative about him.
Whether it is in Miami or not, he is a potential sleeper superstar in this league
By: Jason Sarney
An American treasure that we lost this week once said, “You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. And know when to run.”
The late, Great, Kenny Rodgers passed away earlier this week and the Country Legend’s most famous song correlates very well to the Miami Dolphin's off-season at the moment. After a year of staking chips and a week of bringing in even more assets, the Miami Dolphins are ready for the month that is leading up to the big event that they have been waiting for.
The Gambler, in this case, is Chris Grier. The hand the Miami General Manager was dealt when the smoke cleared after a 5-win season in 2019 was essentially like a 2-6 off-suit, if we are speaking Mr. Rodger’s language of poker.
Grier, who threw in hands that never led to a winning pot like Laremy Tunsil, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Kiko Alonzo, Kenyan Drake and Kenny Stills, has been grinding this session of Hold’em as if he were “Kinish” in the legendary movie, Rounders. For the uninitiated to one of Matt Damon’s gems of a film, “Joey Kinish” was a character who literally made a living grinding out money through winning hands of poker.
The NFL is not poker, but it is certainly similar in mindset and strategy, as well as patience, preparation and planning. Chris Grier is not dealing with actual chips here but the virtual cards dealt to the teams around him at the table will dictate what he is able to do with his cards.
Back to the 2-6 off-suit.
As the chip-leader in the 2020 draft, Grier has the luxury of being the bully at the table. Meaning, he could bluff, raise, re-raise and essentially control the table or board of the NFL Draft.
Most players would fold’em, if they were looking at that 2-6 off-suit to open betting, as many aren’t willing to grind it out and risk a flop to start things off.
Worse yet would be to slow-play the hand, and even have a card thrown on 4th street that remarkably helps another team at the table and flushes you out. And then, as the stress mounts, you may have to swim through a potentially murky river of useless cards while losing precious chips. Remember, in this example, the Ace up the sleeve doesn’t help you here in this particular case.
What any savvy player would do in Grier’s case, would control the pot. Control the board and dictate the moves. We all know what he is holding from a pick standpoint. 14 picks in 2020 and 9 in 2021. Call the 2021 the chip reserves in his pocket that he’d prefer to not reach for, but in a pinch, they are there for him.
Grier must play his hand precisely right and at the same time, he needs the right cards to fall in the appropriate order.
What are the odds he lands a 3-4-5 on the flop? Not good.
So, the odds of a standard draw of 1-2-3-4 in terms of players selected before Miami at #5 are very low to land the Ace that can lead to high-percentage winning hands every time they play ball. In actuality, the odds of four players taken, mixed with no trade ups from other teams, as well as say, Tua Tagovailoa just sitting there at #5 are basically the same as expecting to hit your straight right off the bat.
What Grier must do, is eliminate the competition by using his chips, raising and re-raising until other players on those teams, the General Managers, simply know when to Fold’em.
As the clear chip leader, Grier as the opportunity to stare down four other teams at the table, and simply push more chips in to secure his hand, and that could even mean wining it before seeing the other cards.
There must be a trade up to the Top 3 if the Miami Dolphins will land a Top 2 quarterback in the 2020 Draft. If that is their intention, and the Franchise savior at QB is sitting and waiting for them this season, then chips must be pushed in. And they must be pushed in early, a few weeks (or cards) before the hand is complete on April 23rd-25th.
The Miami GM, who has been grinding it out as a satellite player in the Miami Front Office for 20-years, is ready for the Main Table. It’s the World Series of NFL Drafts in 2020, and ironic as this piece and life itself is, we all should have been in Las Vegas to see it unfold.
Regardless of what the other 31 competitors are planning with their hands, the Miami Dolphins will walk taller the next few weeks than most. Much like a person with several bracelets from past successes and victories, Grier and the Miami Dolphins are looking for their first collaborative “score.”
If they play their cards exactly right, and the chips fall where they may, in April, September through February can sooner than later can get Miami that bracelet.
Although in the NFL, they don’t shoot for bracelets.
They grind it out, each and every day of the year…for a ring.
Follow Jason on Twitter @OrangeAquaman
With several options for the Dolphins, including staying at pick #5 or trading up, this Mock Draft will focus on a scenario where Miami hangs tough at number five, and still gets Tua Tagovailoa. How did this mock finish with the other remaining picks?
Jason Sarney of www.PhinManiacs.com takes you through the process with plenty of highlights of the prospects who could be wearing Orange and Aqua soon.
Click on the YouTube Link to listen and view Jason's Live Mock!
In the past 20 years, the Miami Dolphins have had 21 different starting quarterbacks. Some of them were pretty good, some were downright awful, and none of them came within a 10-foot pole of touching the level of play that Dan Marino spoiled everyone with for his 17 years as a Dolphin.
And as the 2020 NFL draft approaches, Dolphins twitter is alive with healthy debate over who the next quarterback should be. Okay, maybe some of the debate isn’t all that healthy, but it rages on nonetheless.
Check out comments online and you’ll see some fans pounding the table for the pre-2019 season darling, a kid from Alabama by way of Hawaii named Tuanigmanuolepola Tagovailoa (who thankfully goes by the much easier to pronounce name of Tua). Others want to mortgage the farm and trade up to the #1 spot and draft Joe Burrow. Some would argue Justin Herbert is the best fit for the team, and still others will tell you that Jordan Love is the next Patrick Mahomes and can be had later in the draft.
Who is right?
Well, me, of course. No, I don’t know who the team is locked in on, or if they are really even locked in on one particular guy. This time of year on the NFL calendar is referred to as Silly Season, or Smoke and Mirrors Season, or several variants of Poker Season. NFL Teams, and especially the tight-lipped Dolphins, aren’t tipping their hands on their draft and free agency intentions, but the morsels of leaked news and/or nuggets dropped by those that specialize in both subtle and sensationalized speculation are juuuuust enough to make most fans more than a little crazy as they flounder through this part of the year.
So let’s take a few minutes and dissect some of the possible scenarios that may or may not play out come Draft Night 2020 on April 23.
Prior to the 2019 season, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that Tua Tagovailoa was the top prospect at quarterback. Period. The Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, even went so far as to tell people that the team was committed to being in position to draft Tagovailoa. The team started the season 0-7, and by all accounts was well on their way to securing their guy.
Then Tagovailoa got bounced off the turf in November and came up hobbled. Not just hobbled, but with a dislocated hip, ending his season and putting his football future in question.
About that same time, the Dolphins found new life, finally gelling into the team that head coach Brian Flores envisioned, refusing to go down without a fight, and ending the year with five wins in the final nine games. By season’s end, they had secured the #5 overall selection in the NFL draft. And just like that, getting “their guy” was no longer as easy or defined as it had been in September.
In the opinion of this writer, if 100% healthy, there is still no doubt that Tagovailoa would still be the top pick of the draft, ahead of Burrow, who had a record-setting season at LSU to become the darling of this draft. But as of this writing, Tagovailoa had yet to resume full football drills and motions (he was scheduled to have tests on March 9 to clear him for those activities). And even if every detail of his medicals records indicates he will have a full recovery, he’s very likely not going to reach that full recovery until roughly a year after the injury, with would be sometime in the 2020 season.
With that in mind, it’s unlikely that a team will draft Tagovailoa unless they are in a position to wait for most of, if not all of the 2020 season before reaping any reward on their investment. Most of the QB-needy teams in this year’s draft will want a guy that can come in and compete for the starting job on opening day. And of the four teams picking ahead of the Dolphins, only the Bengals appear to be in a position to draft Tagovailoa, a situation that would then have them keeping and starting Andy Dalton for one more year.
The Bengals appear to be ready to part ways with Dalton, as most indications at this point have them drafting Joe Burrow with the first overall pick. However, if Tagovailoa’s medical reports come back clean with a superb chance of full recovery, that could change.
If the Bengals were to take Burrow, the remaining three teams do not appear likely to have a need at QB. The Washington Redskins are committed to Dwayne Haskins, the Detroit Lions have a freshly-declared-100%-healthy Matt Stafford, and the New York Giants are committed to Daniel Jones.
So the next logical step for Dolphins fans to consider is if a team behind the Dolphins will trade up in front of them to select one of the top quarterbacks. And in this case, the worry shouldn’t be too great, as again, almost every QB-needy team doesn’t have the luxury of being able to wait a year for their starter. If any team does trade up, it would most likely be for Justin Herbert, whose showing at the NFL Combine boosted his stock to a potential top-5 pick.
On the flip side, were the Bengals to draft Tagovailoa, several teams, including the Dolphins, could very well try to jump into the fray for the rights to draft Burrow, who could well be a Day One starter.
But in my opinion, Washington will not be a player in the trade-up sweepstakes. I think they will stay put as they have first dibs on the player universally agreed to be the best of the draft in defensive end Chase Young. I can’t imagine them trading down and taking the chance of losing out on Young.
That leaves Detroit holding the cards for the QB scramble. That falls in Miami’s favor, as head coach Brian Flores and Lions head coach Matt Patricia are friends, having coached together for years in New England. While neither serves as the de facto general manager of his team, both do hold enough sway that it’s almost a given that Patricia would give Flores the right of first refusal for any trade offers the Lions receive for that #3 overall pick.
Still following? In essence, if the Bengals select Tagovailoa and the target for the Dolphins is Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert, they would very likely have first dibs on a trade with Detroit to get in position to take their guy. And they certainly have the ammo to do so, likely needing to send picks #5 and #26 to Detroit for pick #3. That price is slightly above the trade chart values assigned to draft picks, but remember, the Dolphins would need to outbid any other offers that Detroit receives, thus a premium price is likely.
If the price is too steep, or maybe, just maybe, the Dolphins are equally enamored with one of the others QBs available, Miami could sit tight at #5 and see which of Burrow, Herbert, and Jordan Love fall to them. It is very likely two of them will be there for the taking.
But let’s go back to the more likely scenario. If the Bengals select Burrow, and the Redskins take Young, the Dolphins may very well not need to trade away any of their draft capital and move up.
Why, you ask?
I’m assuming the Dolphins target in this case is Tagovailoa. The Lions and Giants will pass on him, and the teams behind Miami (Los Angeles Chargers, the Carolina Panthers, possibly the Las Vegas Raiders) need Day One starters. Thus only Herbert would likely be worth a trade up to acquire. That leaves Miami with all their draft capital intact and still getting their guy.
And if by chance a team does trade up and select Tagovailoa ahead of them, Miami still has the same options as the earlier scenario, with one of Herbert/Love available when it’s their turn to pick. Herbert could come in and compete right away with current Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, while the selection of Love would likely have them in the same position as with Tagovailoa, sitting him for a redshirt year, although Love could press for a promotion earlier if the team or Fitzpatrick struggles.
As for trading down if they ‘settle’ for Herbert/Love? I don’t see that happening at all. Worst case scenario, the Dolphins take Love at #5, which would be considered an overreach by most draft pundits. But considering that the Chargers sit one spot behind Miami and are in dire need of a quarterback, I don’t see Miami trading back and taking the chance on losing out on all four of the top QBs in this draft.
Because the Dolphins are in a unique position of having a high draft pick AND not need a Day One starter, I fully expect Miami to stay at #5 overall and take the highest-rated QB that falls to them. I fully expect that QB to be Tua Tagovailoa.
And if by chance they miss on Tagovailoa? There are two very good prospects in Herbert and Love that carry just as much hope and potential as the other two QBs in this draft. As history has shown time and time again, the first QB selected doesn’t always end up being the best NFL QB down the road.
So while fans have their favorite QB, and some are insistent that the Dolphins need to do anything and everything they can to make sure they get 'their guy,' the simple fact of the matter is that there are several options, and the Dolphins are in a prime position to get their guy.
So relax, folks. It’s going to be all right.
The article was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball.
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