The most important draft in the history of the Miami Dolphins is over. No more mock drafts and no more speculation.
The Dolphins came into the first round with three picks: The 5th overall pick, the 18th overall pick acquired in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade, and the 26th overall pick acquired in the Laremy Tunsil trade. Fitzpatrick and Tunsil left huge voids on the Miami Dolphins roster and this was not addressed in Free Agency. In order to consider Miami’s first-round a success, the Dolphins would need to find equal or better value for what they lost and also find the quarterback of the future.
In the 305 Sports article Miami Fans! It’s All Fun and Games Until… we highlighted that Miami was on #7 of an 8 step plan coming into the draft.
- Find a Good Head Coach
- Shed Bad Contracts
- Create a Winning Culture
- Generate Salary Cap Flexibility
- Acquire Draft Capital
- Find a Bridge Quarterback
- Draft a Franchise Quarterback for the Future
- Sustain a Winning Culture
“We did a lot of work on him. We’re very comfortable.” Said Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier on Tua Tagovailoa’s Health.
With the 5th pick, Miami selected Tua Tagovailoa as the quarterback of the future. Miami got arguably the best quarterback in the draft without having to trade up to get him. It seemed like a pipe dream once the Dolphins finished the season hot and lost any shot at the first overall pick.
With Tua, Miami welcomes the most efficient quarterback in college football history onto their roster. Tagovailoa finished his college career with a 199.4 career passer efficiency. His draft stock only fell because of his injury history. However, as Michael Jordan said, “you have to take the pill!”
Miami made the decision to get their quarterback with the first pick. The catch-22 is that the need for finding a replacement for Tunsil at tackle became even greater. Miami stayed patient as they saw a run on top tackles before their 18th pick.
The patience paid off because Austin Jackson was available and the Dolphins cashed in. Jackson’s scouting report describes him as an athletic tackle with raw talent. Thankfully, Miami’s staff excelled at player development last season. If any team should be able to get the most out of Jackson, it should be the Miami Dolphins. Jackson has big shoes to fill but has all the traits to grow into those shoes.
Miami was surgical so far in the first round and that was most apparent with their last pick of the first round.
Flores is a defensive-minded coach and loves versatility on defense. Minkah Fitzpatrick was a perfect piece, with the exception that he didn’t buy into the process.
“The board fell pretty much like we thought.” – Chris Grier
The Dolphins were locked in on their guy for the 26th pick and were confident that he would still be on the board later so they wisely traded back. Miami moved to the 30th spot picking up the 136th pick in the 4th round in the process. The Dolphins guy was Noah Igbinoghene, a versatile cornerback from Auburn. Igbinoghene is physical and excellent in man coverage. He gives Flores multiple options in what is shaping up to be a top defense on paper.
The Dolphins were undergoing one of the most drastic rebuilds ever seen in sports which resulted in a unique situation where they had needs at all positions.
Here were their position needs ranked in order of greatest need to least:
- Offensive Line
- Running Back
- Defensive Line
- Tight End
- Wide Receiver
- Special Teams
Miami had the league’s worst offensive line in 2019. The unit gave up 56 sacks ranking them third-worst in the league. The Dolphins had the worst rushing offense in the league, which was an inditement on their running backs or lack thereof and the offensive line.
The defensive units struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks and almost every team that faced the Dolphins in 2019 has a highlight reel against them.
The Dolphins partially addressed the offensive line in free agency and the first round. They took care of the quarterback need in the first round. Running backs were partially addressed in free agency but still, an area of need, and the same was true with the defensive line and linebackers.
Chris Grier and Brian Flores had a tall task ahead of them but they went to work.
“We tried to improve the team in every area. It wasn’t an area we felt like we were good at this spot.” – Brian Flores
On the second day of the draft, the Dolphins turned their two second-round picks into tackle Robert Hunt and defensive tackle Raekwon Davis. They also picked up safety Brandon Jones from Texas in the 3rd round.
Hunt is massive at 6’5”, 323-pounds. He is athletic and grades out better than the former Miami Dolphins right tackle Ju’Wan James. Hunt is another raw talent, but with great upside and will be expected to protect Tua’s blindside in the future.
Raekwon Davis’ elite combination of height, weight, and length (6’6”, 311-pounds) will make his pairing with either Christian Wilkins or Davon Godchaux a formidable defensive front. These guys will very disruptive to opposing offensive lines.
The Dolphins’ recent history with players with the last name Jones has been good, so they doubled down in Free Agency (Byron Jones) and added Brandon Jones in the draft. Between Igbinoghene and the new Jones, the Dolphins are hoping to address the losses of Reshad Jones and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
“We had a couple of moments there where we had a few smiles and laughs and we had a couple of table slams here and there” – Brian Flores
We may never know for sure but one of those table slams had to be the Baltimore Ravens taking J.K. Dobbins one spot ahead of the Dolphins in the second round. Dobbins was one of the Dolphins visits and Miami was actively looking for a running back on the trading block in the days leading to the draft. The Dolphins passed on all of those potential trades most likely because the price was too high. Miami also didn’t trade up for Dobbins for the same reason.
This was the first time in the draft where it felt like Miami may have failed at legitimately addressing a need this offseason.
On day three, Chris Grier taught fans to never doubt him again. The Dolphins got creative and aggressive. Miami combined two picks, one of which was obtained from trading back in the first round to draft projected starting guard Solomon Kindley.
The Dolphins then turned a 5th round pick into Matt Breida in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers.
All of a sudden, the painting looked like a masterpiece!
Miami continued on in the 5th round maneuvering up the board to get edge rushers that have demonstrated the ability to get at the quarterback. Jason Strowbridge and Curtis Weaver closed out an excellent 5th round for the Dolphins.
Taybor Pepper must have rubbed someone the wrong way or maybe Miami knew that the guy that supplanted fan-favorite John Denney would never be forgiven. Either way, it was a little bit of a head-scratcher to see long snapper Blake Ferguson drafted in the 6th round to replace Pepper.
There is a Miami Dolphins connection here for fans who want to know. Dolphins special teams coach Danny Crossman coached Blake Ferguson’s brother Ried who is the long snapper with the Buffalo Bills.
Miami’s last pick in the draft (No. 246), was excellent. The Dolphins selected Malcolm Perry from Navy. Perry was been listed as a wide receiver, a running back, and a quarterback depending on which source you reference. The reason is he has made plays at all of these positions in Navy’s unique offense. The interesting part about the pick is that the Dolphins have him listed at running back.
In a copycat league, Perry has drawn comparisons to Taysom Hill. A Swiss army do-it-all type player that could be an excellent addition to a team. What makes this pick even better is the New England Patriots were also reportedly targeting Perry.
Final Grade A –
The Dolphins found ways to address all areas of need between free agency, trades, and capped it off with the draft.
Miami also turned a 7th round pick this year into a more valuable 6th round pick next year.
Every pick in this year’s draft will have a solid chance to see significant time on the field this year, with many of them projected to start.
The only thing that keeps this draft from being an A+ is their decision to not trade up for an offensive lineman and settling with Austin Jackson, who will need time to develop.
The Dolphins coaching staff will need to do their part in order to deliver on perfection; something that only the Miami Dolphins know about!