2016 NFL Offseason: Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins (Last Year: 6-10)

2016 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
RB Arian Foster, OT Jermon Bushrod, G Kraig Urbik, DE Mario Williams, DE Jason Jones, DE Andre Branch, ILB Kiko Alonso, CB Byron Maxwell, S Isa Abdul-Quddus.
Early Draft Picks:
OT Laremy Tunsil, CB Xavien Howard, RB Kenyan Drake, WR Leonte Carroo. Dolphins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Lamar Miller, WR Rishard Matthews, WR Greg Jennings, DE Olivier Vernon, DE Derrick Shelby, DE Quinton Coples, CB Brent Grimes.

2016 Miami Dolphins Offense:
Ryan Tannehill could be down to his final chance. Though he threw for 4,000 yards for the second consecutive year, he was a disappointment for the most part. He saw his completion percentage drop from 66.4 to 62.0; his YPA was a mediocre 7.2; and the previous coaching staff didn’t even allow him to audible at the line of scrimmage. Add this all up, and it’s no surprise that the Dolphins scored just 19.6 points per game in 2015.

New head coach Adam Gase has gotten the most out of many of the quarterbacks he has coached over the years, so there won’t be any excuses for Tannehill going forward. Not with his receiving corps, anyway. Tannehill has a couple of talented wideouts at his disposal. Jarvis Landry has emerged as one of the better players at his position, catching 111 passes for 1,159 yards last year despite the mediocre quarterbacking. Meanwhile, DeVante Parker will handle a greater role this year. Parker didn’t do much early on as a first-round rookie in 2015, but he tallied 80 receiving yards or more in four of his final six contests. The sky is the limit for Parker now that he has experience under his belt.

The Dolphins lost receiver Rishard Matthews this offseason and didn’t get much production out of the newly signed Jordan Cameron in 2015. Matthews has been replaced by third-round rookie Leonte Carroo, whom Miami reportedly believed was the second-best receiver in the entire class. This sort of confidence in the Rutgers product probably means that the coaching staff will give Carroo every opportunity to beat out Kenny Stills for the No. 3 wideout job. As for Cameron, there’s always a chance he could rebound. The coaching staff actually believes that he wasn’t utilized properly last year, so a bounce-back campaign could definitely happen.

Matthews wasn’t the biggest loss on offense this spring. That was Lamar Miller, the team’s primary runner. As with Cameron, the former coaching staff had no idea how to use Miller, who will undoubtedly do great things in Houston. Jay Ajayi is the incumbent starting running back, but the organization doesn’t believe in him very much. The front office tried to sign C.J. Anderson, but failed, and then went on to use a third-round selection on Kenyan Drake. Ajayi mustered only 3.8 yards per carry last year, which would explain the trepidation about making him the primary back. Drake should at least make for a nice receiving threat out of the backfield once the recently signed Arian Foster sustains his usual injuries.

There were some rumors that the Dolphins would try to trade up for Ezekiel Elliott to replace Ajayi, but never got the chance. However, another blue-chip prospect fell to them when Laremy Tunsil dropped in the wake of his viral bong video. The ultra-talented Tunsil will be the long-term left tackle, but he’ll play guard this year because Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James make for a nice pair of edge blockers. Both are skilled linemen, but the issue is Albert’s durability. He has missed 16 games over the past four seasons and can’t be counted on to stay healthy. If he goes down again, Tunsil will be able to move into his role.

Without any injuries, Tunsil will join Mike Pouncey and Billy Turner in the interior. Pouncey is a great center, so the only liability here is Turner, who was atrocious this past season. Still, Turner is the best option Miami has at right guard, though former Bear Jermon Bushrod might be able to supplant him.

2016 Miami Dolphins Defense:
The Dolphins added some big names this offseason. Laremy Tunsil was just one of many such players, as the organization once again tried to make a huge splash in free agency. This has yet to work, yet owner Stephen Ross loves big names and celebrities, so Miami will continue to operate this way until his tenure mercifully comes to an end.

Of course, the huge name who was added was Mario Williams. Signed over from the Bills, Williams will take Olivier Vernon’s spot at defensive end across from Cameron Wake. This is obviously going to be a massive failure. Williams, now 31, is no longer the player he once was. He didn’t even try in Buffalo last year, so why would he put forth maximum effort after grabbing the cash and running to an inferior organization? Wake, meanwhile, is a 34-year-old coming off a torn Achilles tendon, so there’s a good chance he’ll never be the same player again. Andre Branch and Jason Jones were signed as backups, but neither played particularly well in 2015. Thus, the Dolphins will have issues generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The flashy name from last offseason, of course, was Ndamukong Suh. He proved to be a minor disappointment in his first year as a Dolphin. He didn’t perform poorly, but any means, but he wasn’t the overly dominant force the Dolphins paid him to be. The fact that he was huffing and puffing, and looking out of shape in a Monday night defeat against the Giants didn’t help matters. To be fair though, Suh had to do a lot of the work himself. No one else in the interior of the defensive line performed anywhere close to well. The Dolphins didn’t do anything about that this offseason, so they’ll be counting on 2015 second-rounder Jordan Phillips to progress. Phillips was woeful in limited action last year.

Another new player added to the defense was Kiko Alonso, who was acquired in a strange trade with Philadelphia where the Dolphins actually moved down five spots to obtain two players who played horrifically last year, one of which is owed lots of money. Alonso was absolutely terrible, though he was coming off a knee injury that caused him to miss the entire 2014 campaign. Alonso will be stationed in the middle, flanked by Jelani Jenkins and Koa Misi. The two project to be much better than Alonso. Misi enjoyed a solid 2015 campaign. Jenkins was definitely worse, but probably because he battled through a nagging ankle injury for half the year.

The second individual acquired in the odd deal with Philadelphia was Byron Maxwell. The former Seahawk struggled mightily in Philadelphia, getting torched routinely. Some are blaming it on Maxwell being a poor fit in the Eagles’ defense, but what really happened was that Maxwell was asked to cover No. 1 receivers for the first time. He failed miserably at that task. He’s somehow the top cornerback on Miami’s roster, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he’s abused in coverage again. On the bright side, the Dolphins have a promising player in second-round rookie Xavien Howard, so perhaps he’ll make life easier for Maxwell if he thrives right away. Howard will need to step up, given the depth problems Miami has at the position.

Meanwhile, the safeties look much better. Reshad Jones was great last year, but didn’t have anyone of note starting next to him. That has changed in the wake of an actual solid signing in free agency. The Dolphins brought over former Lion Isa Abdul-Quddus, who enjoyed a solid 2015 season.

2016 Miami Dolphins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Dolphins, unsurprisingly, don’t have much of a homefield advantage. Since 2007, they’re a pathetic 31-41 as hosts. As a barometer, they’re pretty much the same as visitors (30-40) in that span.

Andrew Franks didn’t get much of a chance to show off his leg in his first season. He went 13-of-16, including 1-of-2 from 50-plus. He missed three of his 36 extra points.

Punter Matt Darr wasn’t very good last year, finishing 20th in net average.

Miami was about even on special teams, outgaining opponents by 0.2 yards on kickoffs and losing out by 0.2 yards on punt returns. The only touchdown went in the Dolphins’ favor.

Three of the Dolphins’ first four games are on the road against the Seahawks, Patriots and Bengals. Tom Brady won’t be around for the New England game, but that’s still a difficult beginning to the season that the team may not be able to recover from.

2016 Miami Dolphins Rookies:
Go here for the Dolphins Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2016 Miami Dolphins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2016 Miami Dolphins Analysis: The Dolphins appear to be one of the worst teams in the league. Of course, it starts at the top, where a clueless owner calls his new coach “the next Bill Belichick” and then threatens to fire him shortly afterward. Miami’s front office obtained some bad players to have on a roster this offseason, so unless Adam Gase can turn Ryan Tannehill’s career around, the Dolphins will have one of the worst records in 2016.

Projection: 4-12 (4th in AFC East)

NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Dolphins don’t strike me as the smartest organization. They covet Ezekiel Elliott, yet they moved down below some teams that will strongly consider him, all for an overpaid cornerback and an injury-prone linebacker. It’ll take a miracle for Elliott to fall to No. 13, so Miami will have to settle on a cornerback. The running back, guard and linebacker positions will all have to be addressed later. A young quarterback would also make a ton of sense.

2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It’s amazing how things work out sometimes. The Dolphins agreed to a completely senseless trade with the Eagles prior to the draft, moving down five spots for a pair of lemons. Doing so all but ensured that one of the blue-chip players wouldn’t fall to them at No. 13. Well, we all know what happened. Bong-gate shook up the entire 2016 NFL Draft, prompting Laremy Tunsil to drop right into Miami’s lap. It’s truly better to be lucky than good sometimes.

So, the Dolphins started well, but how would they finish? Not well, actually. Seemingly addicted to stupid trades, Miami needlessly moved up twice. The first occasion wasn’t very egregious, as it was for Xavien Howard. However, it wasn’t a necessary move, considering all of the cornerbacks still available. The second occasion was the real killer though, as the Dolphins relinquished third- and fourth-round choices in 2017 – a better class – for Leonte Carroo, a player who didn’t fill any sort of need.

If it wasn’t for Tunsil, the Dolphins would be in C- or even “D” territory. However, they can thank their lucky stars that someone set out to ruin Tunsil’s career. That’s the only way the Dolphins can draft well, apparently.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

13. Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss A+ Grade
How did the best player in the draft (according to some) fall to No. 13? I’ll be shocked if Laremy Tunsil is on Twitter ever again.

This is a slam-dunk A+. I suppose Miami isn’t the most ideal environment for Tunsil, but his talent level is unquestionable. He’s a franchise left tackle with an All-Pro skill set, and Miami will need one once the injury-prone Branden Albert moves on. Taking Tunsil here is a no-brainer. The risk is well worth the reward, and this could end up being the best pick in the entire 2016 NFL Draft.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

38. Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor C+ Grade
This would’ve been a great pick had the Dolphins not traded for it. With lots of cornerbacks available, I don’t think they needed to do that, however. Why surrender resources to do something like that? Having said that, I’m not giving Miami a poor grade, as a C+ seems about right. Howard should be a good player for them, and he’s filling a big need for sure.

73. Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama B Grade
This may seem odd, but there were some teams that liked Kenyan Drake better than Derrick Henry. The Dolphins were actually one of them. Miami tried to sign C.J. Anderson in free agency, but the Broncos matched the tender. Kenyan Drake could be a solid replacement for Lamar Miller.

86. Leonte Carroo, WR, Rutgers D Grade
I have no issues with Leonte Carroo, outside of his character concerns. He runs routes very well and could be a solid pro. The range also makes sense. So, why the “D” grade? Because the Dolphins surrendered 2017 third- and fourth-round selections to acquire this pick in order to take him. That’s a little ridiculous, especially when considering that Carroo doesn’t really fit a need.

186. Jakeem Grant, WR/KR, Texas Tech B- Grade
Miami hadn’t picked for 100 selections, so its fans might be frustrated to see another receiver. I wouldn’t expect Jakeem Grant to play much offense, however. He’ll compete to be the team’s primary return specialist. With his speed, he could be a good one.

204. Jordan Lucas, S, Penn State B Grade
Fifty more picks to grade! Jordan Lucas was one of the top athletes at his position in the entire 2016 NFL Draft. He’s worth a sixth-round choice just based on his upside, but he wasn’t picked higher because he wasn’t very productive at Penn State.

223. Brandon Doughty, QB, Western Kentucky B Grade
The Dolphins might be able to groom Brandon Doughty into being their next No. 2 quarterback behind Ryan Tannehill (or whoever replaces him). Doughty doesn’t have the tools to be an NFL starter, but he might be able to become a solid reserve.

231. Thomas Duarte, TE, UCLA A- Grade
I mocked Thomas Duarte to the Dolphins in the fifth round, but despite his solid athleticism, I can’t say I’m surprised that he dropped to the seventh frame. Duarte played receiver at UCLA, but he’ll have to transition to tight end or H-back in the pros. Duarte does have a high amount of potential, however, and I could see him becoming a matchup nightmare of sorts in Miami’s offense.

Season Summary:
The Dolphins have been horrible for quite a while now, but they’ll be looking to begin anew with Adam Gase as their new head coach. However, their primary issues still linger. Will Ryan Tannehill ever take the next step? Will Ndamukong Suh show full effort most of the time? Will Stephen Ross continue to do horrible things to sabotage the organization?

Offseason Moves:
  • Dolphins sign DE Jason Jones
  • Dolphins sign TE MarQueis Gray
  • Dolphins re-sign OLB Spencer Paysinger
  • Dolphins sign G Kraig Urbik
  • Dolphins sign DE Andre Branch
  • Dolphins re-sign QB Matt Moore
  • Dolphins sign OT Jermon Bushrod
  • Dolphins sign OT Sam Young
  • Dolphins sign S Isa Abdul-Quddus
  • Dolphins cut CB Brent Grimes
  • Dolphins rescind transition tag to DE Olivier Vernon
  • Dolphins acquire CB Byron Maxwell, ILB Kiko Alonso, No. 13 from Eagles for No. 8
  • Dolphins sign DE Mario Williams
  • Dolphins cut WR Greg Jennings
  • Dolphins transition tag DE Olivier Vernon
  • Dolphins cut DE Quinton Coples
  • Dolphins cut CB Brice McCain

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Guards: The Dolphins’ No. 1 need is addressing the interior of the offensive line. They’re stout at both tackle spots as well as the center position, but they have nothing at guard. Multiple early selections can be used to fill this spot. Signed Kraig Urbik

    2. Two Cornerbacks: The top priority on defense is to bolster the cornerback spot. Brent Grimes’ play fell off a cliff last season, and yet he was still the top corner on the team. Traded for Byron Maxwell

    3. Defensive End: Cameron Wake tore his Achilles, while Olivier Vernon and Derrick Shelby are impending free agents. If Vernon and Shelby aren’t re-signed, the front office will have to find another pass-rusher. Signed Mario Williams, Jason Jones and Andre Branch

    4. Linebacker: Koa Misi and Jelani Jenkins are solid, but the Dolphins could use a third linebacker, especially one who is good in coverage. Traded for Kiko Alonso

    5. Running Back: Miami has never understood how to utilize Lamar Miller. He’s a free agent, so the Dolphins have to bring in someone to complement Jay Ajayi.

    6. Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh is overpaid, but still played very well in his first season in Miami. The Dolphins didn’t have much else at defensive tackle, however.

    7. Offensive Tackle Depth: Branden Albert and Ja’Wuan James are very good. There is very little depth behind them though, as the team learned when both got hurt in 2015. Signed Jermon Bushrod and Sam Young

    8. Quarterback: The Dolphins need to think about bringing in a young quarterback to challenge Ryan Tannehill, who has regressed each season. Re-signed Matt Moore

    9. Kicker: Andrew Franks hit just 81 percent of his field goals last year, missing three extra points in the process.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Isa Abdul-Quddus, S, Lions. Age: 27.
      Signed with Dolphins (3 years, $12.75 million)

      One of the reasons Detroit improved late in the year was Isa Abdul-Quddus replacing James Ihedigbo in the lineup. Abdul-Quddus was solid in coverage and thrived in run support.

    2. Mario Williams, DE, Bills. Age: 31.
      Signed with Dolphins (2 years)

      Mario Williams was terrible in 2015, but to be fair, he was a terrible fit in Rex Ryan’s scheme. Williams, however, stopped trying after a while and was horrible for the locker room. He’s only 31, so he might have a couple of solid years left in the tank.

    3. Jason Jones, DE, Lions. Age: 30.
      Signed with Dolphins

      Jason Jones has never been the same since tearing his patellar tendon a couple of years ago, but he was decent in 2015. He didn’t really show any weaknesses in his game, though he wasn’t overly forceful.

    4. Jermon Bushrod, OT, Bears. Age: 32.
      Signed with Dolphins (1 year)

      The Bears signed Jermon Bushrod to a ridiculous $36 million contract a few years ago. He wasn’t bad, but definitely did not live up to his contract. He’s a strong backup at this point in his career.

    5. Andre Branch, DE, Jaguars. Age: 27. — Signed with Jaguars (1 year, $3 million)
    6. Kraig Urbik, G, Bills. Age: 30. — Signed with Dolphins
    7. Sam Young, OT, Jaguars. Age: 29. — Signed with Dolphins
    8. MarQueis Gray, TE, Bills. Age: 26. — Signed with Dolphins

    Miami Dolphins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Olivier Vernon, DE, Dolphins. Age: 25.
      Signed with Giants (5 years, $85 million; $40 million guaranteed)

      Olivier Vernon’s stats didn’t show it, as he didn’t even notch double-digit sacks, but he had a fantastic 2015 campaign, both in terms of rushing the passer and helping out against the run. Just 26 in October, Vernon has a bright future ahead of him.

    2. Lamar Miller, RB, Dolphins. Age: 25.
      Re-signed with Dolphins (4 years, $26 million; $14 million guaranteed)

      Lamar Miller is a very talented running back who can catch passes effectively out of the backfield; he logged close to 50 receptions in 2015. I don’t know why, but Miami’s coaching staff never figured out that constantly feeding the ball to Miller is a good idea. That’s part of what makes him so appealing, as Miller, just 25 in April, doesn’t have much wear and tear on his body.

    3. Derrick Shelby, DE, Dolphins. Age: 27.
      Signed with Falcons (4 years, $18 million)

      Derrick Shelby took over as the full-time starter once Cameron Wake went down with an injury. He handled himself well and showed no weaknesses in his game. He was at his best when stopping the run.

    4. Brent Grimes, CB, Dolphins. Age: 33.
      Signed with Buccaneers (2 years, $16.5 million)

      Brent Grimes has been a great cornerback for some time, but he declined last year. He wasn’t terrible, but was his 2015 regression a sign of things to come? Grimes turns 33 in July, so it’s possible that he won’t be able to start for much longer. Then again, if he had another solid year, it wouldn’t surprise anyone.

    5. Quinton Coples, DE, Dolphins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Rams (2 years)

      Quinton Coples has been a colossal bust thus far whose lethargy has ruined his career. However, he’s very talented and could develop into a solid player if he gets his act together.

    6. Louis Delmas, S, Dolphins. Age: 29.
      Louis Delmas is very talented, but he just can’t stay healthy. He missed all of 2015 after tearing his ACL twice since December 2014. Delmas has played just one full season in his career. He’s just not reliable.

    7. Rishard Matthews, WR, Dolphins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Titans

      Rishard Matthews was a solid No. 2 receiver for the Dolphins in 2015. He had some quality performances early in the season before missing time with a rib injury at the end.

    8. Kelvin Sheppard, ILB, Dolphins. Age: 28.
    9. Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins. Age: 32. — Re-signed with Dolphins (2 years, $3.5 million)
    10. Brice McCain, CB, Dolphins. Age: 29. — Signed with Titans
    11. Spencer Paysinger, OLB, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Dolphins
    12. Greg Jennings, WR, Dolphins. Age: 32.
    13. Brandon Williams (RFA), TE, Dolphins. Age: 28.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    Top 90 | QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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