2019 NFL Offseason: Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins (Last Year: 7-9)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Mark Walton, TE Dwayne Allen, TE Clive Walford, G Chris Reed, CB Eric Rowe.
Early Draft Picks:
DT Christian Wilkins, G/C Michael Deiter, DE/OLB Andrew Van Ginkel. Dolphins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Frank Gore, WR Danny Amendola, OT Ja’Wuan James, G Josh Sitton, DE Cameron Wake, DE Robert Quinn, DE William Hayes.

2019 Miami Dolphins Offense:
Former head coach Adam Gase told the media that the Dolphins plan on tanking in 2019 so that they land Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft. Their actions in free agency seemed to indicate that this was the case. They replaced Ryan Tannehill with Ryan Fitzpatrick, a clear downgrade for both the present and future. Fitzpatrick can have an occasional brilliant performance, but he’s been known to implode after that. He always self-destructs with countless interceptions and is ultimately benched. The thing is, Fitzpatrick won’t nearly have the supporting cast in Miami that he enjoyed in Tampa Bay, so there’s even less of a chance that he’ll put together a great outing or two.

Curiously, however, the Dolphins then decided to trade a second-round pick for Josh Rosen, which seems like a colossal mistake when factoring in the Tagovailoa tanking plan. Rosen is an accurate, young quarterback, so perhaps Miami thought that he was worth risking a second-round choice on, but Rosen has no passion for football, as he would rather party every night away, much like Blake Bortles. Rosen is also toxic in the locker room. There was no reason to waste a second-round selection on him, when the plan was clear that Tagovailoa will be targeted next April.

Even if Rosen somehow suddenly falls in love with football, which seems unlikely, it’ll be difficult for him to be productive, given the aforementioned poor supporting cast. The Dolphins lack a viable, proven receiver. Their best player at the position is Kenny Stills, an inconsistent deep threat. DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson are talented, but Parker puts forth zero effort, while Wilson is dealing with a hip injury that could sideline him into the regular season. Tight end is a lackluster position as well; 2018 second-rounder Mike Gesicki disappointed as a rookie, but could perhaps develop into a quality player.

Things aren’t much better for the Dolphins at running back. They were expected to find an upgrade at the position this offseason, but failed to do so. Thus, they’ll head into 2019 with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage as the top runners on the roster. Drake is a capable receiver, but doesn’t seem able to handle a full workload. Ballage looked special in one game last year, but did nothing otherwise.

As bad as the receiving corps and running back stable are, those positions are in far better shape than the offensive line. Miami has the worst blocking unit in the NFL. Aside from left tackle Laremy Tunsil, and perhaps third-round rookie Michael Deiter, every single starting offensive lineman would have trouble making the 53-man roster on other teams. This is especially true for center Daniel Kilgore and guard Jesse Davis, both of whom are horrendous players. Right tackle Jordan Mills is not as bad, so he would be a backup on most NFL squads.

2019 Miami Dolphins Defense:
Miami’s offense is going to be a disaster in 2019, so the defense automatically has to be better by default. That said, the Dolphins have some major issues on this side of the ball as well.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the Dolphins’ stop unit is the pass rush. It just simply doesn’t exist. Miami lost its top three edge rushers in the offseason, parting ways with Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn and William Hayes. The top remaining players at the position are Charles Harris and fifth-round rookie Andrew Van Ginkel. Harris is a former first-round pick, but he managed just one sack in 2018. He appears to be a complete bust.

The Miami player who figures to have the most success getting to the quarterback is 2019 first-round selection Christian Wilkins. The Clemson product is both physically gifted and hard working. He dominated the national championship against a good Alabama offensive line. Wilkins will start alongside Davon Godchaux, a stout run defender, and Akeem Spence, who doesn’t really do anything well.

With the only viable pass rusher being an unproven rookie, Miami’s secondary will suffer as a consequence. The Dolphins have issues there as well, as they don’t have a viable starter across from talented cornerback Xavien Howard. Minkah Fitzpatrick figures to have a great year in the slot, but the No. 2 cornerback spot was a huge need that the Dolphins didn’t address this offseason. The job currently appears to be Bobby McCain’s, but he’s certainly going to be torched mercilessly in coverage.

The Dolphins are at least fine at safety. Reshad Jones and T.J. McDonald are both solid players, though age (31) is becoming a concern with Jones. It’s also possible that the Dolphins will trade Jones in the middle of the season because of his high salary going forward. Jones will be 32 next year when Miami will fully begin its rebuilding process, so he doesn’t fit in well with that plan.

Rounding out the defense, the linebackers aren’t a big liability, thanks to Jerome Baker. The 2018 third-rounder had a strong rookie campaign in all regards. However, he’s the only linebacker on the roster who can cover well; Raekwon McMillan is good in run support, but can easily be beaten in coverage, while Kiko Alonso has been a weakness for years.

2019 Miami Dolphins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Dolphins, unsurprisingly, don’t have much of a home-field advantage. Since 2007, they’re an underwhelming 47-48 as hosts, though they were 6-2 in 2018.

Miami used a seventh-round pick on a kicker last year, and it paid off. Jason Sanders was 18-of-20, and he missed just one extra point.

Punter Matt Haack did not do well in net average last year, finishing 28th in that department. However, he did a good job of pinning the opposition inside the 20.

Miami was mediocre on special teams. The Dolphins were even on kickoffs, but were outgained on punt returns.

The Dolphins wouldn’t have a difficult schedule under normal circumstances, but every opponent is going to be difficult for them.

2019 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.

2019 Miami Dolphins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Miami Dolphins Analysis: The Dolphins are the worst team in the NFL. Even if they weren’t tanking, they’d have a difficult time winning games. Their quarterbacks are terrible; they have no running game; their pass rush is non-existent; and they have the worst offensive line in the NFL. There’s a legitimate chance Miami will go 0-16 in 2019.

Projection: 1-15 (4th in AFC East)

2018 Projection: 4-12. 2018 Actual Result: 7-9.
2017 Projection: 7-9. 2017 Actual Result: 6-10.
2016 Projection: 4-12. 2016 Actual Result: 10-6.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The Dolphins have the worst roster in the NFL. Remarkably, they have a need at every single area of their depth chart. Yet, they have just five draft choices in the first six rounds. Miami absolutely must trade down on multiple occasions to acquire as much talent as possible.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Dolphins did as I requested in the goals section. They moved down from their second-round pick and acquired a second-round choice to use in the vastly superior 2020 NFL Draft class. Their initial selection, Christian Wilkins, was a stellar pick. Everything was going well, and then the Dolphins remembered that they were, in fact, the Dolphins.

Miami squandered a second-round choice in a trade for Josh Rosen. This was a horrible decision, as Rosen has zero passion for football and would rather party his life away, much like Blake Bortles. Sure, the Dolphins got a “discount” on Rosen after trading down, but this is like someone offering to sell you a stick of sugarless gum for $100 after initially offering $150. You’re getting 33 percent off, but who cares!?

It’s a shame the Rosen trade happened because it spoiled an otherwise successful weekend for the Dolphins. They drafted mostly solid values, including Wilkins and third-rounder Michael Deiter. They added two offensive linemen to help Tua Tagovailoa in 2020, which is important because they won’t want their next quarterback to get killed. Miami still has plenty of needs to fill, but this was a nice start, save for the poor trade.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

13. Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson A- Grade
The Rashan Gary and Christian Wilkins selections are just one spot apart, yet they couldn’t be more radically different. The Packers took a guy who was a major slacker in college, whereas the Dolphins just picked a high-character player who was a team captain at his school. Oh, and Wilkins was pretty damn good as well! This is a great pick that must be in the “A” range, as Wilkins will be able to replace Ndamukong Suh’s production. The only reason this isn’t an A+ or an “A” is because I felt as though the Dolphins had so many needs that they had to trade down. Still, I’m a fan of this move.

78. Michael Deiter, G/C, Wisconsin B+ Grade
The Dolphins had the worst offensive line in the NFL entering the 2019 NFL Draft. They needed to use multiple selections on offensive linemen, and this is a nice start. Michael Deiter is a rock-solid mauler who can play either guard or center. He has plenty of solid tape and certainly fits the range in the middle of Round 3.

151. Andrew Van Ginkel, DE/OLB, Wisconsin C Grade
Andrew Van Ginkel was just a 1-year starter at Wisconsin, but made a name for himself by testing very well at the combine. This boosted him a couple of rounds, as I had Van Ginkel pegged in the seventh frame. This is a bit of a reach, but not an egregious one. He could end up helping a poor pass rush.

202. Isaiah Prince, OT, Ohio State B Grade
The Dolphins are tanking for Tua, so perhaps Isaiah Prince will be ready to play by the time the Alabama quarterback is on the roster. Prince has plenty of starting experience at Ohio State, but he’s very raw. Prince’s technique needs lots of work, but he has some upside as an above-average athlete, so this seems like a decent choice.

233. Chandler Cox, FB, Auburn B Grade
The Dolphins don’t have a viable starting running back – one of many things they lack – but they at least have a solid blocker at fullback now. Chandler Cox will be a nice lead back and a contributor on special teams. This is a fine choice, but not a spectacular one.

234. Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington A Grade
I wrote that the Dolphins don’t have a viable starting running back, but perhaps Myles Gaskin will be able to emerge as one. Gaskin is a very good runner with great vision and feet. He also never fumbles. The problem is that he’s barely 200 pounds and probably won’t be able to shoulder a complete workload. However, he could develop into someone who is a nice contributor in a running back committee. Gaskin could’ve been chosen much earlier than this, so I love this pick.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
Adam Gase had two seasons with his starting quarterback. He reached the playoffs in one and was close in the other before the signal-caller in question suffered an injury late in the year. Yet, this wasn’t good enough for inept owner Stephen Ross. Now, the Dolphins will begin anew.

Offseason Moves:
  • Cowboys acquire DE Robert Quinn from Dolphins
  • Dolphins sign G Chris Reed
  • Dolphins sign QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
  • Titans acquire QB Ryan Tannehill from Titans for draft picks
  • Dolphins sign TE Clive Walford
  • Dolphins cut G Josh Sitton
  • Dolphins sign CB Eric Rowe

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill has been a failure as a former first-round pick. The Dolphins must find a new quarterback, and it’s likely that they move up for one in the 2019 NFL Draft. Signed Ryan Fitzpatrick

    2. Two Guards: The Dolphins’ No. 1 priority once they obtain a new quarterback is to protect him. The interior of the offensive line has been an abomination for years. This must change, as upgrades at both guard spots are needed.

    3. Center: The entire interior offensive line must be bolstered. Center has been a weakness as well.

    4. Wide Receiver: Miami has to find a No. 1 receiver for its new quarterback. The team is sorely lacking talent at the position, thanks to DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson disappointing.

    5. Defensive Tackle: Moving to the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins’ top priority here is to replace Ndamukong Suh. They were horrible against the run last year because of Suh’s absence. Luckily for Miami, this draft class is loaded at defensive tackle.

    6. Cornerback: Xavien Howard is a terrific outside cornerback, while Minkah Fitzpatrick looked great playing the slot. A talented cornerback is needed across from Howard. Signed Eric Rowe

    7. Running Back: Frank Gore may return, but he’s 36. Kenyan Drake seemingly is trusted in just the passing game. Kalen Ballage is an enigma. The Dolphins may decide to select a running back early in the draft.

    8. Right Tackle: If the Dolphins don’t retain Ja’Wuan James, they’ll have a huge hole at right tackle.

    9. Linebacker Depth: Miami could use some depth at linebacker, especially if Kiko Alonso continues to blow coverages.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 36.
      Signed with Dolphins (2 years)

      Ryan Fitzpatrick has proven that he can be great for a game or two, but he’ll ultimately self-destruct. He’s a terrific backup quarterback.

    2. Dwayne Allen, TE, Patriots. Age: 29. — Signed with Dolphins (2 years)
    3. Eric Rowe, CB, Patriots. Age: 26. — Signed with Dolphins (1 year)
    4. Chris Reed (RFA), G, Jaguars. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins

    Miami Dolphins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Ja’Wuan James, OT, Dolphins. Age: 27.
      Signed with Broncos (4 years, $52 million; $32 million guaranteed)

      Ja’Wuan James is a stellar right tackle, but had a down 2018 season because he played through a knee injury. He’s still young (27 in June), so he should be able to rebound at 100-percent capacity to open the 2019 campaign.

    2. Cameron Wake, DE, Dolphins. Age: 37.
      Signed with Titans (3 years, $23 million)

      Cameron Wake played very well last year, but despite this, he was a half-step slower than usual. This isn’t much of a surprise, as Wake is now 37. He could begin regressing rapidly soon.

    3. William Hayes, DE, Dolphins. Age: 34.
      William Hayes is a very well-rounded defensive end. He was missed last year when he tore his ACL in September. Turning 34 this offseason, Hayes could struggle to return to 100-percent form.

    4. Frank Gore, RB, Dolphins. Age: 36.
      Signed with Bills (1 year, $2 million)

      Frank Gore somehow was able to fend off Kenyan Drake as the starting running back, averaging 4.6 yards per carry behind an offensive line that wasn’t very good. He plans to return for 2019 despite turning 36 in May.

    5. Josh Sitton, G, Dolphins. Age: 33.
      Here’s what I wrote about Josh Sitton last offseason: “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.” Sitton seemed like a nice signing for the Dolphins last offseason, but was only able to play one game before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. Sitton is now 33, but could play well if healthy.

    6. Jake Brendel (RFA), C, Dolphins. Age: 26.
    7. Danny Amendola, WR, Dolphins. Age: 33. — Signed with Lions (1 year, $4.5 million)
    8. A.J. Derby, TE, Dolphins. Age: 27.
    9. MarQueis Gray, TE, Dolphins. Age: 29.
    10. Andre Branch, DE, Dolphins. Age: 30.
    11. Brock Osweiler, QB, Dolphins. Age: 28.
    12. Mike Hull (RFA), ILB, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Dolphins (1 year)
    13. Sam Young, OT, Dolphins. Age: 28.
    14. Wesley Johnson, C, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Signed with 49ers
    15. Hroniss Grasu, C, Dolphins. Age: 28.
    16. Garrison Smith (RFA), DT, Dolphins. Age: 27.
    17. David Fales, QB, Dolphins. Age: 28.

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

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