Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s springtime again, and we all know what that means; The draft is just ahead of us, and we’re one step closer to getting real NFL football once again. And so, let me introduce myself as your new Miami Dolphins connection for Time Skew. I look forward to bringing you everything you need to know, and some things you don’t, about the only undefeated team in NFL history. With it being April, that means a roundup of all the changes, signings, and needs still facing the team going into the 2020 NFL draft.
Free Agency Frenzy
For most Dolphins’ supporters, free-agency was a rush. Fans have spent years watching huge, bloated contracts thrust at the shiniest toy available as GM’s mindlessly chase the biggest name available at any cost. This has resulted in years of Draft Cap problems and inflexibility on the roster as Miami gets trapped under bloated contracts that outlived the players usefulness.
This year, however, GM Chris Grier changed the focus, going for multiple big name signings at team friendly contracts. The defense has been reformed, built around the combination of returning Xavien Howard and prize signee Byron Jones (giving Miami arguably one of the best cornerback pairs in the league.) Instead of giving Jones the blockbuster contract typical of Miami’s recent past, he instead received a frontloaded arrangement that gives the team exits later down the road. Ex-Patriots Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Ted Karras are reunited with Brian Flores. In addition to Linebackers Van Noy and Roberts, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Defensive Ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah leave Miami’s front seven completely redesigned. Offensively things were quiet, with linemen Ereck Flowers and Ted Karras signing modest contracts. Miami also acquired RB Jordan Howard.
So where does this leave Miami going into the draft? With 14 picks, 5 of which are in the first two rounds, Miami has the flexibility to do whatever they want. The offensive line remains the teams largest priority next to Quarterback. Flowers and Karras will bolster the line, but are hardly enough to improve the historically terrible play from last year. 1156 rushing yards and 57 sacks allowed should speak for itself.
Yes, you read that correctly. 1156 rushing yards for the entire team. The blame cannot be solely placed with the line, so RB remains a position of need as well, despite adding Jordan Howard. 3 years removed from his breakout rookie season, Howard has declined year to year at a steady pace. Safety remains a glaring hole on defense with the departure of longtime Dolphin Reshad Jones. Bobby McCain was servicable at the position, though his real strength will always be as a Slot Corner.
The Quarterback Question
Of course, all of this ignores the massive elephant in the room: Quarterback. Miami had long been the subject of “Tank for Tua” talk around the league, eyeing Tua Tagavailoa from the University of Alabama. His on-field performance has been stellar, with the ability to brutally diagnose and pick apart a defense pre-snap, and the touch and accuracy needed to take advantage of those reads.
The big concern with Tua? Injury history. After he suffered a brutal hip injury last November, Tua underwent the third surgery of his career. (It’s worth noting that the first two surgeries were voluntary, in an attempt to speed up healing).
So what else might the Dolphins do? Justin Herbert, of Oregon, has been the name most associated with Miami over the last few weeks. Rumors have swirled that the Dolphins prefer the athletic, strong-arm quarterback, though he struggles with vision, touch, and consistency. When Herbert is “on”, however, he flashes incredible potential.
And then, there’s the wildcard option. With so much draft capital, and so much need, there is the slight possibility that Miami may trade up into the first overall pick, snatching Joe Burrow. Of course, Miami would need to give up a truly historic value in picks for the opportunity, potentially derailing the rebuild.
Could the Dolphins trade up for Burrow? Read it here
At times like these, it’s tempting to try to make predictions. Who will Miami take at number 5 overall? Will they trade up? Or maybe down? Will they sell the farm for Burrow? Will they just set Dan Marino in the middle of a field in Iowa to do some sort of strange rain dance that just arbitrarily generates their selections? At this point, all of those scenarios are as likely as any other. Chris Grier has demonstrated a deft proficiency with the pre-draft smokescreen machine. With so much draft capital and so many needs, it’s impossible to guess what direction they may go. So all we as fans can do is sit down, buckle up, and hold on. Phins up!