The Coaching Staff:
HC - Adam Gase
OC - Clyde Christensen
DC - Matt Burke
QB Jay Cutler, QB Matt Moore, HB Damien Williams, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Julius Thomas, TE Anthony Fasano, OG Anthony Steen, OG Jermon Bushrod, C Mike Pouncey, DE Terrence Fede, MLB Lawrence Timmons, MLB Rey Maualuga, OLB Neville Hewitt, CB Alterraun Verner, S Michael Thomas, S Nate Allen, K Cody Parkey
QB Brock Osweiler, QB Bryce Petty, HB Frank Gore, WR Albert Wilson, WR Danny Amendola, TE Gavin Escobar, C Daniel Kilgore, DE Robert Quinn, DT Akeem Spence, OLB Terence Garvin
Round 1 Pick 11
Minkah Fitzpatrick CB/S Alabama
Wow, what a steal for Miami. This is just like when they scooped up Laremy Tunsil in 2016. Fitzpatrick is a definite Top 10 talent and Miami didn’t even have to trade up for him. They’re fine at Safety for now, so he’ll likely play Corner. Not only does Fitzpatrick posses the ball skills to create turnovers, he’s also a physical DB with impressive strength. He plays bigger than his size. One of the top picks of Round 1.
Round 2 Pick 42
Mike Gesicki TE Penn State
Mark Andrews was the highest ranked TE on my board at this juncture, so I think he would have been a better choice. That being said, Gesicki is a similar player. Both are athletic pass catchers who have trouble blocking. Miami is fine with their blocking TEs so that won’t be an issue. Gesicki will provide a solid intermediate target for Ryan Tannehill right away.
Round 3 Pick 73
Jerome Baker OLB Ohio State
Miami really needed to add some young talent at LB and this is perfect range for Baker who will have a shot to start immediately. If so, he’ll once again play next to former Buckeye teammate Raekwon McMillan.
Round 4 Pick 123
Durham Smythe TE Notre Dame
The Dolphins were having a fine draft, up until this nonsense. Miami already had 4 TEs under contract heading into this thing, plus added Mike Gesicki a couple rounds ago. Adding a 6th TE in Smythe when they have holes all over the roster is simply ridiculous. Not only that, but I had Smythe has a fringe 7th Round Prospect at best. I didn’t even have him being selected in my 7 round mock. He’s a good blocker but The Dolphins didn’t need to add someone to play that role. This would have made a lot more sense to me in the final round.
Round 4 Pick 131
Kalen Ballage HB Arizona State
Ballage has the size and talent to be a potential star running back, yet underachieved at ASU. This is a gamble on a project player, but one that could possibly work out if he’s coached up the right way. Solid choice in Round 4.
Round 6 Pick 209
Cornell Armstrong CB Southern Miss
I didn’t have this kid being drafted, so taking him in Round 6 isn’t really a move I like.
Round 7 Pick 227
Quentin Polling OLB Ohio
Using another pick on a LB was a good move by Miami, as really are lacking at the position. However, I didn’t have Polling being drafted so I think they could have done better here.
Round 7 Pick 229
Andrew Franks is a solid kicker so I’m not sure why The Dolphins decided on letting him go. I’ve never heard of Sanders, and looking at his college numbers only made me dislike this Pick more. He was unimpressive throughout his career with The Lobos so why take him over a vastly superior player in Eddy Pineiro ? That’s what I had Miami doing with this selection.
In 2016, a fluky winning streak helped elevate The Dolphins into the weak AFC playoffs. This gave them some high expectations for the 2017 season but QB Ryan Tannehill, having just returned from an injury that ended his previous season late, tore his ACL the start of Camp. Rather than roll with Matt Moore, Miami brought back the recently retired Jay Cutler. Cutler played his best football under Adam Gase’s guidance in Chicago so there was still hope. Predictably, Cutler was lazy and didn’t seem to care so Miami missed the postseason. Tannehill will be back under center for 2018 but there’s question marks. Can he stay healthy? Will he struggle due to his ability being affected? If either of these issues is prevalent The Dolphins will be forced to start Brock Osweiler which is not ideal. All that said, Tannehill was having a career year under QB whisperer Adam Gase before his 2016 season came to an end. Gase is an excellent offensive mind so there’s certainly the possibility of a return to form.
One factor working in the QB’s favor is that he’ll have the best supporting cast of his career to work with. Miami signed both Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson this offseason, and then drafted TE Mike Gesicki. Tannehill had already developed a rapport with DeVante Parker but the team’s 2015 1st Round Pick struggled in his absence. Kenny Stills remains the Dolphins’ biggest downfield threat, having caught 58 passes for 847 yards and 6 TDs in 2017 with those six scores giving him 15 the past two years. Wilson was just an average slot receiver in Kansas City but Gase is reportedly smitten with him and has plans for the Georgia State alumnus. Amendola had apparently grown tired of The Patriot Way, talking down on the team upon signing with a division rival. He’s been a clutch and dependable target but will be 33 in November. He was never a very athletic player to begin with so regression could really kill his game. Also, it’s never a promising sign when a player leaves a winning organization to join a perennially losing team. As for Gesicki, he figures to start right away despite being a poor blocker. Fellow rookie Durham Smythe, former Cowboy Gavin Escobar, and team vet MarQueis Gray will fight for the blocking role while Gesicki serves as Ryan Tannehill’s intermediate threat.
This also might be the best offensive line Tannehill has had in front of him but honestly, that’s not saying much. Josh Sitton was signed via Free Agency after The Bears refused to commit to the perennial pro bowler’s terms. He’s not the player he once was, but still played at a very high level for Chicago in 2017. He’ll be able to hold things down but across from him there’s likely going to be problems. Former UDFA Jesse Davis, second year man Isaac Asiata, and mediocre veteran Ted Larsen will battle for the job. Davis might be their best hope unless Asiata takes a huge step in development after barely seeing the field as a rookie then struggling mightily during the one game he played in. Miami acquired another interior blocker this offseason trading with The 49ers for Daniel Kilgore. He was once a passable starting Center but these last couple of years have displayed how mediocre of a blocker he has become.
To avoid another injury to Tannehill, Miami knows they need proper protection on the edge. They’re really counting on a bounce back year from Laremy Tunsil, who followed up his impressive rookie campaign with a disastrous 2017. He’s infinitely talented however, and may have just went through a sophomore slump. Miami re-signed stud RT Ja’Wuan James to a much deserved contract extension this offseason. His presence and skill will help pick up the slack of whoever ends up starting at RG.
Amendola wasn’t the only aging skill position player Miami signed this offseason. Hometown legend Frank Gore was brought in but The Dolphins would be foolish to make him the featured back. Gore just turned 35 and hasn’t averaged anything above 3.9 YPC since 2014. He does still contribute pretty nicely in the passing game but his speed and explosiveness are pretty much gone. He’ll pass Curtis Martin for 4th all time in rushing yards barring a serious injury before the season but I think there’s a real chance Gore might just be completely done and show major signs of regression in 2018. That’s why his role should be as a handcuff to the young and talented Kenyan Drake. Following the Jay Ajayi trade, Drake made the most of of his bigger offensive role. He took 133 carries for 648 yards and 3 TDs while averaging 4.8 YPC. He also showed his ability as receiver, snagging 32 receptions for 239 yards and another TD. He figures to see a lot more touches this season as long as he stays healthy.4th Round Rookie Kalen Ballage is a project who likely won’t see much playing time in 2018.
Miami began their offseason by sending a 4th Rounder and a swap of 6th Rounders to The LA Rams for Robert Quinn. Quinn recorded an amazing 19 sacks back in 2013 but never came close to reaching that dominant level again. Much of that was due to injuries but he was healthy in 2017 and able to notch 8.5 sacks despite playing in a 3-4 defense for the first time in his career. I like the deal and all but Miami was already crowded on the edge. Cameron Wake turned 36 this offseason yet showed no signs of slowing down last year, piling up 10.5 sacks. He’ll be the other starter but Miami also has solid rotational edge rusher Andre Branch, 2017 1st Round Pick Charles Harris, and William Hayes who also came over from The Rams prior to last season. The Dolphins need to figure out what they’re going to do with all these guys but I think the best move would be moving Hayes to the interior. He’s got the build and size to play there and it would allow Miami to run a position battle for the job next to him rather than starting two of either Davon Godchaux, Jordan Phillips, or Akeem Spence. Spence is the most promising option as Godchaux has severe athletic imitations and Phillips has been a mediocre starter for years.
Similar to how they scooped up Laremy Tunsil a couple years ago, Miami watched Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick fall right into their laps and used the 11th overall pick on him. He can play all over the field at multiple positions and is sort of like a less ballhawking more physical version of The Honey Badger. He’ll be playing Corner mostly as a rookie, starting across from Xavien Howard who really performed well down the stretch in 2017. Bobby McCain is a solid slot corner who the team just signed to an extension. Tony Lippett will be returning from injury and looking to prove the 4 INTs he recorded in 2016 were no fluke. At Safety things are the same with Reshad Jones still playing at a high level and the talented but troubled TJ McDonald starting across from him.
The weak link of Miami’s stop unit is undoubtedly the Linebacking core. Kiko Alonso is a solid starter but slotted in the middle is Raekwon McMillan who the team drafted in the 2nd round out of Ohio State last year before an unfortunate injury cost him his rookie season. He’s got talent but we’ve never seen him play and it’s hard to judge how guys come back following freak maladies. He may have former Buckeye teammate Jerome Baker starting next to him again though as he’ll be given every chance to win the starting job for the final LB spot. His main competition is Stephone Anthony who put together a terrific rookie campaign with The Saints back in 2015 but has struggled ever since. He was traded to The Dolphins last season but didn’t contribute much so he has a lot to prove if he wants a chance at career redemption. The underdog to win the job is Terence Garvin who started a few games for the banged up Seahawks at the end of last year but didn’t exactly make the most of it.
The Special Teams:
Jason Sanders college numbers weren’t too impressive so I’m not sure if he’s going to succeed in the pros. Matt Haack is just an average punter, putting up a NET average of only 44.5 in 2017. Jakeem Grant has established himself as Miami’s primary return man. He didn’t score a TD last season but he averaged a solid 7.6 and 22.8 YPR on punts and kicks respectively.
Miami to me is the worst team in the NFL. We don’t know what’s going on with Tannehill and both Amendola and Gore will likely show some major regression. They’re overcrowded on the defensive line and the Linebacking core is a joke, so stopping the run looks like it’s going to be a major issue. I like Adam Gase but this team is a total mess and it’s likely he’ll be looking for a new job come 2019.
2-14 4th Place AFC East