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Where Isaiah Wilson’s Power Can Most Benefit The Dolphins: Film Review

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The Miami Dolphins have continued their youth movement with the addition of a controversial, but intriguing player.

The Dolphins traded for Tennessee Titans right tackle Isaiah Wilson on Monday in a move where little was spent. Miami sent a 2021 seventh-rounder to the Titans for Wilson and a seventh-round pick in 2022.

Wilson, the 29th overall pick in last year’s draft, brings a lot — and I mean a whole lot — to the table. Let’s break down the trade and see where he fits in Miami’s offensive line.

The good

Size, power and explosiveness.

There aren’t very many human beings that are Wilson’s size (6-foot-6, 350-pounds) who possess his explosiveness and raw power. This shows up in a couple of different ways. First, he has a ton of pop in his hands. These are the kind of plays that make you rewatch the tape. It’s unusual to see players be thrown around like this in an SEC game.

His explosiveness and pop with his hands help him a lot in pass protection. When pass rushers are trying to bend the edge on him, he’s stellar at cutting them off, and those powerful hands almost always push the rusher completely out of the play.

The bad

Immaturity and issues off the field.

Behavior off the field is the biggest red flag when it comes to evaluating Wilson. Between an early-season DUI, a couple of stints on the COVID-19 reserve list and a since-deleted tweet in which Wilson proclaimed he was “done with football as a Titan,” this was far from an ideal rookie season for the big man.

Second chances are difficult to come by in life, and this could be Wilson’s last shot at playing in the NFL. It won’t matter if he can work through some of the flaws in his game if he can’t keep himself out of trouble.

Lack of lateral movement and agility.

To put it simply, Wilson has very poor agility. There aren’t many examples of players with 8.26 second 3-cone drill and 5.07 second shuttle times having good NFL careers at offensive tackle. It doesn’t mean that he can’t find ways to compensate for this shortcoming, but it makes life much more difficult.

The following videos show how this lack of agility exposes him in pass protection. In this three-play series, K’Lavon Chaisson, a first-rounder in 2020, gets Wilson to open his hips and then counters to the inside with a spin or swim move. Wilson doesn’t have the agility or quick feet to recover, and on the third play, he gives up the sack.

Here’s another example of a spin move putting Wilson in a world of trouble.

Poor leverage.

One of my favorite offensive lineman in this upcoming draft is Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern University. He’s an undersized tackle but can bully opposing defenders because he has excellent technique and leverage. Isaiah Wilson is kind of the opposite. Being 6-foot-6 doesn’t help, but it’s very common to see him playing almost completely upright. He has so much raw power that it helped him get away with it in college. However, that will absolutely not work in the NFL.

The bottom line

This is a smart move by Chris Grier. There’s a chance that he’s cut before the start of the preseason and nobody remembers this trade in five years, but it’s still a sound process. Taking low-risk shots on physically gifted players with a pedigree like Wilson — a former five-star recruit out of high school and an All-SEC player — is never a bad idea.

If he fixes some technical issues he may be able to stick at tackle, but I think Wilson will eventually be forced to move inside and play guard, where he can be protected in pass-coverage.

A life-long Dolphins fan that ended up in Texas after serving in the Air Force. I believe in using a combination of analytics, film-study, and misguided fan-instincts to develop pieces. I look forward to hearing from you, Fins Up!

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Todd

    March 11, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    Good work, I think its fair to say that this is a coin flip opportunity. Would love it if he could develop some ‘bend’ to his frame but that’s probably asking a bit too much given his balance/agility deficit. He’ll make it through camp, but likely end up as a career backup (not bad for a 7th rounder).

    • George Forder

      March 12, 2021 at 3:44 am

      Thank you! I’d say a coin flip is about right. Yeah, even just depth across the offensive line is a good return on a swap of sevenths.

  2. Mark Doyle

    March 13, 2021 at 6:17 am

    does he have potential as a guard?

    • George Forder

      March 13, 2021 at 8:08 am

      Yes. I think he would be a really solid pass protector in a phonebooth like that. When he’s straight up on a dude and gets his hands on him, the reps over. He would just need to improve as a run blocker (surprising to hear for a big powerful player like that), which comes down to having better technique/leverage.

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