2018 NFL Offseason: Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins (Last Year: 6-10)

2018 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Brock Osweiler, RB Frank Gore, WR Albert Wilson, WR Danny Amendola, G Josh Sitton, C Daniel Kilgore, DE Robert Quinn.
Early Draft Picks:
S Minkah Fitzpatrick, TE Mike Gesicki, LB Jerome Baker, TE Durham Smythe, RB Kalen Ballage. Dolphins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Matt Moore, QB Jay Cutler, WR Jarvis Landry, TE Julius Thomas, C Mike Pouncey, DE Terrence Fede, DT Ndamukong Suh, ILB Lawrence Timmons, S Michael Thomas, S Nate Allen, K Cody Parkey.

2018 Miami Dolphins Offense:
The Dolphins didn’t know it at the time, but their season went up in smoke when Ryan Tannehill suffered a torn ACL during training camp. They thought they could get away with Jay Cutler as their starting quarterback, but that venture proved to be disastrous, as Cutler put together plenty of low-effort performances.

Tannehill will be at full strength entering 2018, so that’s the good news. Tannehill completed 67.1 percent of his passes on a decent 7.7 YPA back in 2016. He also scored 20 total touchdowns, throwing 12 interceptions in the process. The bad news? His supporting cast isn’t nearly as strong the last time he was on the field.

The most prominent departure was Jarvis Landry, who was traded to the Browns this offseason. Many are willing to criticize Landry because he once ran a 4.7 40-yard dash, but he’s an extremely quick, potent slot receiver. Landry was the top offensive threat on the Dolphins’ roster last year, but now that he’s gone, Tannehill will have to rely on DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola. Parker is the most talented of the quartet, but he has been a major disappointment thus far, as his work ethic has been questioned. Stills’ production should rise, but he’s an inconsistent deep threat. Wilson was paid an obscene amount of money (3 years, $24 million) for a player who has yet to do anything in his career. Amendola, meanwhile, is an oft-injured player. He has shown some nice chemistry with Tannehill, but it remains to be seen if Amendola will remain on the field.

Tannehill will have a different starting running back and tight end from when he last suited up. His tight end should be better, though the athletic Mike Gesicki is just a second-round rookie. Meanwhile, Kenyan Drake will be the primary runner, replacing Jay Ajayi, who had a fantastic 2016 campaign with Tannehill. Drake isn’t as physically gifted as Ajayi, but he ran well last year, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He also caught 32 passes.

The offensive line is radically different from Tannehill’s previous start. In fact, only one position is the same, and that would be right tackle, as Ja’Wuan James should continue to be the best blocker on the unit. Laremy Tunsil also started with Tannehill in 2016, but did so at left guard. He moved to left tackle last year, and he didn’t fare very well in his new position. Perhaps he’ll improve in his third season.

The interior of Miami’s front looks pretty abysmal, though left guard Josh Sitton should help. Sitton is 32, but performed on a high level in Chicago last year before being inexplicably released. Sitton is miles better than the other starters, center Daniel Kilgore and right guard Jesse Davis. Kilgore was one of the worst centers in the NFL last year, while Davis is even worse than Kilgore.

2018 Miami Dolphins Defense:
The Dolphins lost plenty of impactful offensive players recently, but none of them were as talented as Ndamukong Suh. Released this offseason, Suh was considered problematic in the locker room, but there’s no denying how much of a force he was on the field for most games. The locker room may have improved, but Suh’s play on the field will be sorely missed, especially when considering the players the Dolphins still have at the position.

Davon Godchaux, a fifth-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, is currently the top defensive tackle on Miami’s roster. Godchaux, despite being a mid-round rookie, played a healthy number of snaps last year and showed some potential. He could emerge as a viable starter. The rest of the defensive tackle group is lacking, however. Jordan Phillips, Akeem Spence and Vincent Taylor are all pedestrian players.

Miami compensated for losing Suh by acquiring Robert Quinn from the Rams. Quinn is an explosive edge rusher who is coming off a down year because he didn’t transition well into a 3-4 defense. Quinn is still young (28), so it’s reasonable to expect him to rebound in a 4-3. He’ll start across from Cameron Wake, who registered 10.5 sacks in 2017. Wake has to slow down at some point – he turned 36 this offseason – but he hasn’t shown any signs of regression. The Dolphins also have good depth at this position, as solid backup William Hayes and Charles Harris, the 22nd-overall pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, will be quality rotational players. Harris logged just two sacks as a rookie, but has the potential to bolster his play in 2018.

The Dolphins’ second-round pick from 2017, Raekwon McMillan, missed his entire rookie campaign with a torn ACL. It’s still unclear how good of a pro he will be, but his presence has to improve Miami’s linebacking corps, if only by default. The unit was absolutely atrocious last season, as it was primarily responsible for the team’s inability to cover pass-catching running backs and tight ends. That should still be an issue, as the other two returning veterans, Kiko Alonso and Stephone Anthony, are both anemic. Perhaps third-round rookie Jerome Baker will be able to break into the starting lineup. If he can’t, it’s a bad sign considering how bad Alonso and Anthony were last year.

The front office was expected to use its opening-round choice on a linebacker, but opted for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick instead. Fitzpatrick is a versatile defensive back who can play virtually anywhere in the secondary. He’s likely to start out at free safety, replacing T.J. McDonald, who could be facing jail time for violating probation stemming from a DUI arrest. Jones was the best defensive back on Miami’s roster last year, so he and Fitzpatrick should form a fine tandem.

Things aren’t as promising at cornerback, though two of the top three players at the position are both very young. Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, entering their third and second seasons, respectively, have plenty of potential. They had their struggles last year, but Howard finished on a strong note, intercepting Tom Brady twice in a Week 14 Monday night battle. Meanwhile, Bobby McCain was the best corner on the team this past season, faring well in the slot.

2018 Miami Dolphins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Dolphins, unsurprisingly, don’t have much of a home-field advantage. Since 2007, they’re a pathetic 41-46 as hosts. As a barometer, their road record (36-50) isn’t too far off.

Miami’s new kicker is seventh-round rookie Jason Sanders. He was 25-of-35 at New Mexico.

Punter Matt Haack was a middling punter last year, finishing 15th in net average.

Miami was exceptional on special teams, outgaining the opposition on both punt returns and kickoffs.

The Dolphins have a somewhat difficult schedule, as they are favored in just five games according to the early Westgate spreads. Those contests are all home tilts versus the Raiders, Bears, Lions, Jets and Bills.

2018 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.

2018 Miami Dolphins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2018 Miami Dolphins Analysis: The Dolphins lost numerous talented players this offseason, so even though they’re getting Ryan Tannehill back from a torn ACL, it’s likely that they will finish with a poor record. While some believe the Dolphins will have the worst record in the NFL, it’s more likely that they’ll win four to six games.

Projection: 4-12 (3rd in AFC East)

2017 Projection: 7-9. 2017 Actual Result: 6-10.
2016 Projection: 4-12. 2016 Actual Result: 10-6.

NFL Draft Team Grade: C+ Grade

Goals Entering the 2018 NFL Draft: Miami might be the worst team in the NFL this year. Numerous veterans are gone, and there are glaring holes everywhere. It’s impossible for the Dolphins to fix everything now, so this has to be a 2-year rebuilding process. Trading down would be great, as it’ll allow Miami to pick up some much-needed assets.

2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Dolphins had to take the best players available, and they wanted Roquan Smith to fall to them at No. 11. Smith was chosen three picks earlier, so Miami had to pick Minkah Fitzpatrick. This was not a bad consolation prize, as Fitzpatrick will be able to help the team contain Rob Gronkowski and other dynamic tight ends.

Despite Miami’s requirement of obtaining the top prospect on the board, the team had to find a tight end and a strongside linebacker, as there were no viable players at those positions on the roster. That would explain the Mike Gesicki and Jerome Baker on Day 2. Both were logical choices, though taking Gesicki over Dallas Goedert was a questionable decision.

None of the Dolphins’ third-day picks really stood out. Running back Kalen Ballage has upside, but never lived up to his ability at Arizona State. Durham Smythe should be a good blocking tight end, but he was taken a bit too early.

Overall, Miami made some nice selections, but this draft overall felt pretty hollow. It doesn’t seem like the Dolphins have improved very much, and their reluctance to bolster the offensive line seems like a mistake.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

11. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama A- Grade
Over Tremaine Edmunds? That’s kind of a surprise. This is a solid pick, however, as Fitzpatrick will be able to solve the same sort of problems Edmunds could have. The Dolphins have been miserable against tight ends and pass-catching running backs for years, which is obviously a huge issue when going up against the Patriots. Fitzpatrick will be able to help immensely in that regard, so that helps. There is some concern about Alabama players’ durability – which is why they’ve dropped in recent drafts – but considering Fitzpatrick could have been chosen at No. 9, I think this is a good choice for Miami.

42. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State B+ Grade
The Dolphins were going tight end all the way here, as they didn’t have one on their roster. I would have chosen Dallas Goedert, but Gesicki is a very solid choice. Gesicki is extremely athletic and should be able to develop into a potent weapon for Ryan Tannehill. I expected him to go in the middle of Round 2, so the range is definitely right for him.

73. Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State B+ Grade
Jerome Baker has a great combination of speed and athleticism, and he’s well worth a pick in the third round. I like this choice for the Dolphins, as Baker fills a big need. Miami didn’t have a strongside linebacker on the roster, which was kind of a problem. Baker should be able to start right away, though it’s not like he’ll have competition.

123. Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame C+ Grade
I said it for the Will Dissly pick; taking blocking tight ends in the fourth round isn’t a good move because they grow on trees. However, Smythe has better receiving ability than Dissly, so I like this pick a bit better.

131. Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State B Grade
Kalen Ballage never lived up to his physical ability at Arizona State. That’s a bit scary, but the upside is certainly there. Ballage has the talent to become an NFL starter, but we’ll see if he puts more effort into football. I like the risk here at the end of Round 4.

209. Cornell Armstrong, CB, Southern Miss D Grade
This is a poor choice in the sixth round, as Cornell Armstrong is squarely a UDFA prospect. I don’t even know if he was a priority UDFA. Armstrong has an injury history, and I don’t know if he makes Miami’s roster.

227. Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio B Grade
Quentin Poling was slotted nine selections earlier in my mock draft, so I like the range for him. Poling should be a quality special-teamer and reserve linebacker in the pros. Given Miami’s linebacking woes, he could see more action than he would elsewhere.

229. Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico C Grade
It’s the seventh round. Time to take a kicker. Meh.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
Miami’s season was capsized the moment Ryan Tannehill suffered an injury. The team thought it could salvage its 2017 campaign by signing Jay Cutler, but he played much worse than expected. The Dolphins can try again with Tannehill in 2018.

Offseason Moves:
  • Dolphins sign RB Frank Gore
  • Dolphins acquire C Daniel Kilgore
  • Dolphins sign G Josh Sitton
  • Dolphins cut C Mike Pouncey
  • Dolphins cut TE Julius Thomas
  • Dolphins sign WR Danny Amendola
  • Dolphins sign WR Albert Wilson
  • Dolphins cut DT Ndamukong Suh
  • Dolphins cut ILB Lawrence Timmons
  • Browns acquire WR Jarvis Landry from Dolphins
  • Dolphins acquire DE Robert Quinn from Rams

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Guards: Miami’s greatest offseason priority is improving its anemic offensive line. The tackles aren’t in bad shape, provided one of the free agents is re-signed, and center will be OK if Mike Pouncey improves his health. The guards, however, are another story. The Dolphins had one of the worst guard tandems in the league, so that will need to change this offseason. Signed Josh Sitton

    2. Two Linebackers: The Dolphins absolutely must work on their linebackers this spring. Raekwon McMillan is coming back from injury, but the other two players at the position will need to be replaced, as Lawrence Timmons is done, while Kiko Alonso can’t cover anyone.

    3. Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh was released, leaving a huge void in the defensive line.

    4. Cornerback: Miami has a couple of young cornerbacks on the roster in Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, but neither projects as a No. 1 cover guy.

    5. Right Tackle: Ja’Wuan James is an impending free agent, and he needs to be retained because he’s the best blocker on the team’s line.

    6. Tight End: Julius Thomas was a bust signing, so Miami will have to find a viable tight end for Ryan Tannehill.

    7. Center: The Dolphins cut Mike Pouncey, so some competition should be added for Jake Brendel. Traded for Daniel Kilgore

    8. Defensive End: The Dolphins spent a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Charles Harris, but another defensive end might be needed. Cameron Wake is inching closer to retirement, while William Hayes will be a free agent in March. Acquired Robert Quinn; re-signed William Hayes

    9. Wide Receiver: There was some speculation that the Dolphins would allow Jarvis Landry to walk away as a free agent because of DeVante Parker’s emergence. Parker, however, slacked off in practice and struggled for most of the year, so the Dolphins will need to re-sign Landry. Signed Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson

    10. Backup Quarterback: Every single quarterback on Miami’s roster, save for Ryan Tannehill, is an impending free agent.

    11. Running Back Depth: The Dolphins were right to trade Jay Ajayi because Kenyan Drake was impressive in replacement. However, they now need a solid backup behind Drake. Signed Frank Gore

    12. Kicker: Cody Parkey’s contract expires in March.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2018 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Josh Sitton, G, Bears. Age: 32.
      Signed with Dolphins

      Josh Sitton missed three games with an ankle injury this past season, but was otherwise terrific. Sitton has been one of the best guards in the NFL over the past decade. He’s 32 now, but interior linemen can play at a high level into their mid-30s, so Sitton should still have a few great years remaining in the tank. The Bears, unwilling to pay his $8 million option, will certainly miss him.

    2. Danny Amendola, WR, Patriots. Age: 32.
      Signed with Dolphins

      Danny Amendola has a checkered injury history, but managed to stay healthy in 2017, catching 61 passes for 659 yards and two touchdowns. Amendola is 32 now, however, and with Julian Edelman coming back, he won’t be needed going forward.

    3. Frank Gore, RB, Colts. Age: 34.
      Signed with Dolphins

      Despite being 34, Frank Gore had some nice performances last year, registering 961 yards behind a poor offensive line. He also caught 29 passes.

    4. Albert Wilson, WR, Chiefs. Age: 26. — Signed with Dolphins
    5. Brock Osweiler, QB, Broncos. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins
    6. Terence Garvin, OLB, Seahawks. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins

    Miami Dolphins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Dolphins. Age: 31.
      Signed with Rams (1 year, $14 million)

      The Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh to a 6-year, $114 million contract with $60 million in guarantees three offseasons ago. It was argued that it was too much money for a single defensive player, and that turned out to be the case because Miami was just 22-26 with Suh. That pedestrian record isn’t Suh’s fault, as he played great in most of his games, but it just goes to show that a contract like that should only be reserved for quarterbacks. Suh is still a dominant force, but it’s unclear how long that will last. He just turned 31, so he could play on a high level for one or two more years before falling off.

    2. Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins. Age: 25.
      Franchised by Dolphins

      Jarvis Landry is one of the premier slot receivers in the NFL. He’s eclipsed 100 receptions in two of the past three years, and given how long he’s seemingly been around, it’s shocking that he won’t even turn 26 until Thanksgiving.

    3. Ja’Wuan James, OT, Dolphins. Age: 26.
      Miami had an atrocious offensive line this past season, but don’t blame Ja’Wuan James. He was one of the better right tackles in the NFL prior to landing on injured reserve with a groin injury. He was excellent in pass protection, and he’s only going to be 26 in June.

    4. Mike Pouncey, C, Dolphins. Age: 29.
      Signed with Chargers

      Some might be surprised by this release, but Mike Pouncey hasn’t played well for a while. He was horrible this past season, thanks to failing hips. Pouncey is unquestionably talented, but all of the injuries he has suffered over the years have caused him to regress. There’s a chance he bounces back in 2018, but no team should spend a lot on him because he carries high risk.

    5. William Hayes, DE, Dolphins. Age: 33.
      Re-signed with Dolphins (1 year)

      William Hayes was an excellent run-defender for the Dolphins in 2017 prior to landing on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He turns 33 in May, however, so he’ll be declining soon.

    6. Matt Moore, QB, Dolphins. Age: 34.
      Matt Moore has been one of the better backup quarterbacks in the NFL over the past several years, but that could change soon, given that he turns 34 over the summer.

    7. Jay Cutler, QB, Dolphins. Age: 35.
      Announced retirement

      Jay Cutler was atrocious in most of his games this past season, and it’s clear that he’s no longer a starting-caliber quarterback. He would be a good backup, but he’ll likely reenter the world of broadcasting instead.

    8. Cody Parkey, K, Dolphins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Bears

      Cody Parkey doesn’t attempt many field goals from long distance, but he hit about 90 percent of his kicks in 2017, while missing just one extra point.

    9. Julius Thomas, TE, Dolphins. Age: 30.
    10. Michael Thomas, S, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Signed with Giants
    11. Terrence Fede, DE, Dolphins. Age: 26.
    12. Nate Allen, S, Dolphins. Age: 30.
    13. Sam Young, OT, Dolphins. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Dolphins
    14. Anthony Fasano, TE, Dolphins. Age: 34.
    15. Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Dolphins. Age: 32.
    16. Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Signed with Chiefs
    17. Walt Aikens, CB, Dolphins. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Dolphins (2 years)
    18. Jermon Bushrod, G, Dolphins. Age: 34. — Signed with Saints
    19. Neville Hewitt (RFA), OLB, Dolphins. Age: 25.
    20. David Fales (RFA), QB, Dolphins. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Dolphins (1 year)

    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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