Having the second-youngest active roster in the NFL, the Miami Dolphins showed that results come in due time. With 11 draft picks in seven rounds — the most of any team — the Dolphins made the most of their rookies despite the oddest offseason and season of all time.
Here’s how I would grade the 2020 draft class.
QB Tua Tagovailoa: A-
Once known as the best quarterback in college football, Tua Tagovailoa is seeming to have a slower than usual transition into the NFL. Through 10 games started, Tua threw for 1,814 yards, 11 touchdowns and 5 INT’s –Three of which came from the season finale against Buffalo.
In the last four games of the season, Tagovailoa repeatedly had slow starts, which is something that’s not ideal in the modern NFL. Through Tua’s last five games, he only had four first-half touchdowns. He truly shined in the Week 8 road victory against the Arizona Cardinals, having notched a 71.4 completion percentage while throwing for 248 yards and two TD’s, marking the most well-round game of his young career.
Moving forward, the playbook needs to open for Tua and he has to trust his receivers more. Devante Parker is one of the best long-ball receivers in the NFL, and Tagovailoa should be able to trust him to catch virtually anything thrown his way.
OT Austin Jackson: B
Playing 79 percent of offensive snaps in 2020, Austin Jackson was on the field most of the time. One key trait Jackson brings to the team is his discipline. Throughout 13 games played, Austin Jackson only recorded two penalties, something Flores should commend his offensive lineman for.
CB Noah Igbinoghene: C-
With an already stuffed secondary, highlighting cornerbacks Xavien Howard, Byron Jones and safety Bobby McCain, there wasn’t a lot of room to fit Igbinoghene at most times. The No. 30 overall pick played in just 28 percent of the defensive snaps this season, with most of them coming in from Week’s 3 and 4 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks, where Igbinoghene played every rep in both games.
“He’s a talented kid … He’s a rookie, he’s going to have some ups and downs,” head coach Brian Flores said.
There is still a lot of hope to fit in the young defensive back, but it may not come for a significant amount of time.
OL Robert Hunt: A-
Robert Hunt was a man on a mission this season and protected Tua better than some veteran offensive lineman protect their signal-callers. Hunt saw 68 percent of the offensive snaps, usually being right in the middle with center Ted Karras and OL Solomon Kindley.
The main burden of Hunt in 2020 was his penalties. While very low –five total — those penalties are more costly than they appear.
DL Raekwon Davis: A+
The biggest burden for Miami in 2019 was their run defense. Giving up over 100 yards a game, it was obvious the Dolphins needed to use a higher draft pick on a defensive lineman. Raekwon Davis did his job better than any rookie defender against the run, as he was the highest-graded rookie defender against the run with a rating of 66.8.
Davis was mixed into the rotation after veteran defensive lineman Davon Godchaux suffered a season-ending injury. Davis’ presence as a bigger lineman meant he would be able to close bigger gaps faster and give a bigger hit to the opposing Offensive Line. He even earned Pro Football Focus honors on the All-Rookie Defensive line next to other future stars.
Davis was also the fourth highest-rated defensive rookie in the 2020 NFL Season. He started off his career very well with 40 tackles in 16 games while only playing in 52 percent of defensive snaps.
S Brandon Jones: B
With Miami’s love for the blitz in 2020, Brandon Jones was able to fit perfectly into their defensive scheme. The only downside is that the Dolphins already have two notable starting safeties in McCain and Eric Rowe, so game time was minimal for Jones.
Even though he played in just 37 percent of the defensive snaps, the former third-round pick was able to make a bigger impact on the field than anyone had thought he would, Jones had a notable 1st year, earning 62 tackles and a forced fumble.
OL Solomon Kindley: A-
Being on the field for 70 percent of offensive snaps, Kindley has proved to be a massive steal for as a fourth-round pick. Kindley repeatedly dominated opposing defensive linemen off the snap, creating a bigger gap for his runners to go through and make a bigger play.
DT Jason Strowbridge: D+
Flores used Strowbridge as a linebacker instead of an edge rusher, which ESPN advertises him as. He should play a more flexible role next season, which could showcase his speed and tackling abilities in 2021.
LS Blake Ferguson: A+
This pick was questioned by many. Taking a long snapper in the draft is something a lot of teams wouldn’t think of doing often. With the recent retirement of long snapper John Denney, Blake Ferguson was picked up by Miami and has been phenomenal. He completes the trio of special teamers, which includes kicker Jason Sanders and punter Mat Haack.
QB/WR Malcolm Perry: C
Once again, Miami hits gold in the seventh round. In 2019, they hit big with running back Myles Gaskin. In 2020, it was the human Swiss Army Knife who could basically do anything asked. Malcolm Perry didn’t do a lot this season, but if Miami keeps using the read option and screen passes, Perry should expect to fit right into the team sooner rather than later.
Overall Grade: B+
Could Miami have used their picks on skill players? Yes. Should they have? Maybe. This is why the Dolphins should be eyeing Heisman winning receiver Devonta Smith with the third overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Furthermore, Miami used their wealth in draft picks to pick up their franchise quarterback, protect him, and make a bigger name for their defense and special teams. The Dolphins hit on all three parts of the game, something not a lot of teams can say they accomplished in the 2020 NFL Draft.