The 2020 Draft has concluded, and it’s time to judge the decisions to take players who have yet to even play a down in the NFL. The Miami Dolphins came into this draft with a League-high 14 draft picks, but also with probably the most significant number of needs on their roster.
Round One, Pick 5
Tua Tagovailoa, QB – Grade: A
Injury concerns aside, you cannot blame Miami for taking the chance on Tuanigamanuolepola Tagovailoa. In spite of his health history, the Alabama QB had the most efficient two season stretch in College Football history. Like any prospect, there are concerns and issues that raise question marks about how he’ll transition to the league, but the Miami Dolphins have been desperate for a transcendent player at the quarterback position for decades. Chris Grier’s bold decision to sit tight at number 5 and still manage to get his guy, is just icing on the cake.
Round One, Pick 18
Austin Jackson, OT – Grade: B+
After taking their QB of the future, the next obvious step for the franchise was to draft help on the offensive line. There were higher rated tackles in this draft, but with most of the top prospects already gone, Miami took who they could. Austin Jackson is an athletically gifted prospect with talent oozing out of him, but, in what will be a recurring theme, is raw. A strong pick who comes with some mild risks.
Round One, Pick 30
Noah Igbinoghene, CB -Grade: B+
Taking a cornerback here was a little unexpected. Noah Igbinoghene is an incredibly athletic, powerful presence in the secondary, but has only played the position for two years. His ball skills are weak and he needs a lot of polishing, but the capabilities he offers are tantalizing. Brian Flores is clearly following the path he learned in New England, building his defense from the secondary forward. He will be a solid supporting player next to Xavien Howard and Byron Jones with high upside.
Round Two, Pick 7
Robert Hunt, OT – Grade: B
Back into the offensive line upgrade. Miami takes Robert Hunt here and continues the trend of taking physically gifted offensive lineman who need some polish. Hunt has experience playing both inside and outside on the line, and plays with aggression and physicality. He will immediately compete for a starting job and has the potential to be a long-term asset.
Round Two, Pick 24
Raekwon Davis, DT – Grade: B-
Raekwon Davis had an excellent performance in 2017, but has progressively declined since. I like addressing the position, and Davis has exceptional physical traits and has demonstrated the necessary technical skills, but the drop off in production is concerning. One presumes the hope is that Miami’s coaching staff can resolve the problem. Another high risk, high reward prospect with physicality and potential.
Round Three, Pick 6
Brandon Jones, S – Grade: B
Miami adds another Jones to the secondary with Longhorns Safety Brandon Jones. Jones has experience playing around the field and brings an extreme drive. He plays hard, but there are concerns about his size and frame, and how he’ll be able to handle the larger NFL caliber talent he’ll face at the next level. He also comes with the interesting tidbit of having spent his last (injured) season studying defenses of all 32 NFL teams.
Round Four, Pick 5
Solomon Kindley, G – Grade: B-
Another aggressive, physical powerhouse to play on the offensive line, Solomon Kindley establishes a clear picture of what Miami plans to do with the position group. A mauler who loves to fight in the trenches, Kindley can almost play too aggressively, sometimes playing without discipline. Some might (reasonably) argue that there were better options available at this point, but it seems like Miami was more concerned about the type of player than just the best player available.
Round Five, Pick 9
Jason Strowbridge, DE – Grade: B
Another position of need for the Dolphins, Jason Strowbridge adds a pass rush presence to a defense that struggled with it last year. Will most likely be a rotational, passing down player as he hasn’t shown against the run. Strowbridge has good physical traits and can be a contributor, but needs polish.
Round Five, Pick 14
Curtis Weaver, Edge – Grade: A
It’s surprising to see a player with such high college production avaliable in the fifth round, but Curtis Weaver somehow slid to Miami here. A skilled, talented pass rusher, the big knocks against Weaver are size, athleticism and his struggles against the run. His performance in college makes it clear, however, that he can make up for his physical drawbacks with a talented hands and a high football IQ. He will be an immediate role player and if he can improve against the run, could be a long time contributor.
Round Six, Pick 6
Blake Ferguson, LS – Grade: D
Blake Ferguson was probably the best long snapper in the class, has extremely high character, and will most likely be a long-time contributor to the Dolphins. It still doesn’t explain the decision to take a long snapper in the sixth round, especially one that plays no other positions. Miami had the capital to do what they like, but it’s still probably not the best use of resources.
Round Seven, Pick 32
Malcolm Perry, WR – Grade: A
I’ve mentioned elsewhere what a fan I am of Navy prospect Malcolm Perry. The versatile, if undersized, runner has played a variety of positions, including quarterback and brings extremely high character. If he can adapt to the NFL he could be a very valuable gadget player for the Dolphins.
Matt Breida Trade – Grade: A
The Dolphins traded one of their excess fifth rounders to the San Francisco 49ers for Running Back Matt Breida during day three of the draft. A position of extreme need, Breida has been a highly efficient runner for San Francisco and getting him at the value of a fifth round pick is a quality use of resources.
Find out more about the Breida trade here.
Overall Draft Grade: B+
Tua aside, many fans might be underwhelmed by a draft that saw the Dolphins spend six of their picks on line players, but this is the meat and potatoes of the Dolphins rebuild process. While it may not have been “sexy”, the rebuild was always expected to take a while, and Miami took on several high upside foundational pieces. Some may complain at how many of those pieces also happen to have the potential to bust, since so many were developmental prospects, but with 5 picks in the first two rounds of next years draft, they’re well equipped to adjust to any misses.
Overall, Miami went into this draft with a clear plan, and executed it well. The high-risk, high-reward approach is a huge gamble, but one that can also pay off in spades if everything goes well. It was obviously an investment made with a great deal of faith in the the coaching staff. All the remains to be seen now is if they can coach these prospects up to their immense potential. Stay tuned for more Miami news and a full recap of the offseason, including UDFA moves.