2023 NFL Offseason: Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins (Last Year: 9-8)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Mike White, WR Braxton Berrios, WR Robbie Anderson, TE Eric Saubert, TE Tyler Kroft, DE/OLB Malik Reed, LB David Long, CB Jalen Ramsey, S DeShon Elliott, P Jake Bailey.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Cam Smith, RB Devon Achane. Dolphins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Matt Breida, C Ted Karras, DE Shaq Lawson, DT Davon Godchaux, OLB Kyle Van Noy, OLB Kamu Grugier-Hill, S Bobby McCain, P Matt Haack.

2023 Miami Dolphins Offense:
Miami’s success this upcoming season can be determined using a simple if-then-else statement. If Tua Tagovailoa can remain healthy the entire year, then the Dolphins will have a legitimate chance to win the Super Bowl. Else, they will either miss the playoffs, or once again sneak in as a lower seed and lose right away.

While the health of the starting quarterback is paramount for many teams, the Dolphins are defined by it because Tagovailoa hasn’t been able to remain healthy for an entire season throughout his pro career. Tagovailoa has missed 15 games in the past three seasons, including last year’s playoff battle against the Bills in which he couldn’t return from a concussion in time. Given his issues with concussions last year, Tagovailoa could be out for a while if he suffers another brain injury. The Dolphins at least have a capable backup now in Mike White, but he has a checkered injury history as well.

Protecting Tagovailoa will be extremely important, which is why it was bizarre that the Dolphins didn’t use either of their day-two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft on a blocker. As it stands now, Miami has two big liabilities up front. Left guard Liam Eichenberg has been a huge disappointment since being selected in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Right tackle Austin Jackson, meanwhile, can’t stay healthy at all, having played just two games last year. Jackson is a good talent as a former first-round pick, but he’s not reliable as far as availability is concerned.

Though the Dolphins have two big holes on the offensive line, they have some talented players as well. Left tackle Terron Armstead is a terrific blind-side protector, though he has injury issues as well; Armstead has missed 13 games in the past couple of seasons. In the interior, Connor Williams can play both center and guard at a high level, while right guard Robert Hunt has made nice strides as a former second-round pick.

If Tagovailoa and Armstead can remain on the field, the Dolphins will score a ton of points because of their elite receiving corps. Tyreek Hill posted career-best numbers despite being separated from Patrick Mahomes, catching 119 passes for 1,710 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022. Jaylen Waddle, who would be a No. 1 receiver on many teams, hauled in 75 passes for 1,356 yards and eight scores this past season. The Dolphins don’t have much at the position beyond Hill and Waddle, so if one of them were to suffer an injury, the offense would regress substantially.

At running back, Miami’s two-man rotation will likely transition into a three-way split. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. shared the workload last year, but they’ll be joined by third-round rookie Devon Achane, who is an electric receiver out of the backfield.

2023 Miami Dolphins Defense:
The Dolphins were set to have two first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but ended up with none. They lost one due to tampering charges, while the second was traded to the Broncos during the 2022 season for Bradley Chubb. The talented edge rusher was a disappointment since joining the team, however, logging only 2.5 sacks in eight games. He wasn’t even a top-two edge rusher on the Dolphins, as Jaelan Phillips (7) and Melvin Ingram (6) recorded more sacks. Chubb is very talented, however, so it’s very possible that his production will increase this year.

Speaking of increased production, Christian Wilkins has been a dominant interior force for the Dolphins after having a shaky start to his career. He was a solid contributor to the pass rush in 2022, but was at his best when disrupting the run. He and Zach Seiler should once again form a solid duo at defensive tackle.

Regardless of whether or not the Dolphins get improvement from their pass rush, they’ll be much better than they were against aerial attacks last year, thanks to the acquisition of Jalen Ramsey. The former Ram corner may not be the elite talent he once was, but he’s still a stellar player. He and Xavien Howard will combine to be one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL, while Kader Kohou should perform well in the slot once again.

Ramsey wasn’t the only upgrade the Dolphins added to their secondary. They also signed DeShon Elliott away from the Lions. Elliott was a solid player for the Lions, so he’ll fill a big need the Dolphins had next to Jevon Holland, an athletic play-making safety who should continue to improve his game as he enters his third year in the NFL.

Another new addition to the team is linebacker David Long, who previously played for the Titans. Long is only mediocre in coverage, but thrives when it comes to run support. He’ll also fill a void that the Dolphins had, as they wanted a new player to go alongside Jerome Baker, a quality three-down player with no weakness in his game.

2023 Miami Dolphins Schedule and Intangibles:
Jason Sanders was excellent in 2020, going 36-of-39, including 8-of-9 from 50-plus. He was much worse in 2021; he was just 23-of-31, including 2-of-6 from beyond 50. Sanders was only a bit better last year, going 26-of-32. He was once again 2-of-6 from beyond 50.

It’s unclear why the Dolphins signed Jake Bailey to be their punter, as he had the worst net-punting average in the NFL last year.

The Dolphins have some very difficult non-divisional foes, including the Chiefs, Eagles, Ravens, and Chargers. They also have some easier opponents like the Raiders, Redskins, and Panthers.

2023 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.

2023 Miami Dolphins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 Miami Dolphins Analysis: The Dolphins’ outlook in 2023 hinges on Tua Tagovailoa’s health. Things looked so promising last year until Tagovailoa suffered a concussion, leaving Miami with Skylar Thompson at quarterback entering the playoffs. Something similar could easily occur once again this year, but if Tagovailoa defies the odds and remains on the field, the Dolphins will be in Super Bowl contention.

Projection: 11-6 (3rd in AFC East)

2022 Projection: 8-9. 2022 Actual Result: 9-8.
2021 Projection: 10-7. 2021 Actual Result: 9-8.
2020 Projection: 4-12. 2020 Actual Result: 10-6.
2019 Projection: 1-15. 2019 Actual Result: 5-11.
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: C- Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: The Dolphins are capable of winning the Super Bowl if Tua Tagovailoa can stay healthy. That’s a big “if,” however. To make sure Tagovailoa stays on the field, Miami will need to continue to improve its offensive line. Some defensive help is needed as well, but the pass protection trumps everything.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Dolphins had just four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, so there’s not much to analyze. Their two picks on Day 2 were scored as a B+ and a “B.” I thought both provided great value, but neither filled much of a need. Cam Smith is a talented cornerback who fell due to character concerns, while Devon Achane is a talented runner who will be fighting for touches with Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.

It was disappointing to see the Dolphins fail to address their offensive line until their seventh-round pick. Protecting Tua Tagovailoa is paramount, so the argument could be made that the Dolphins should have eschewed value and just drafted a blocker. Besides, it’s not like there wasn’t value with any of the offensive linemen available.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

51. Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina – B Grade
I think the Dolphins should have drafted an offensive lineman, given that they used a resource to acquire Jalen Ramsey. Still, a talented cornerback will be useful in the two matchups against Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers. Smith is a very talented player, but fell because of some character concerns.

84. Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M – B+ Grade
What a surprise, a disciple of Kyle Shanahan drafted a running back in the first three rounds! Devon Achane is not going to be a full-time running back, but he has explosive and great pass-catching ability, and he’ll serve as a dynamic weapon in Miami’s high-octane offense.

197. Elijah Higgins, WR, Stanford – B- Grade
I feel like the Dolphins had bigger fish to fry than receiver, but they’re at least getting a solid prospect at the position. Elijah Higgins has nice speed and an ability to separate. I had him in the fifth round.

238. Ryan Hayes, G/OT, Michigan – A Grade
The Dolphins desperately needed to address their offensive line. I thought Ryan Hayes had a chance to sneak into Day 2, so I love this value. Ryan Hayes has versatility as a tackle and guard.

Season Summary:
The Dolphins were 8-3 at one point in 2022, but collapsed down the stretch, thanks mostly to Tua Tagovailoa’s injury. Tagovailoa’s absence derailed the Dolphins in the playoffs. He’ll be back next year, but there’s no guarantee that he can stay healthy.

Offseason Moves:
  • Dolphins sign TE Tyler Kroft
  • Dolphins sign DE/OLB Malik Reed
  • Dolphins sign P Jake Bailey
  • Dolphins sign WR Braxton Berrios
  • Dolphins sign TE Eric Saubert
  • Dolphins sign S DeShon Elliott
  • Dolphins sign LB David Long
  • Dolphins sign QB Mike White
  • Dolphins acquire CB Jalen Ramsey from Rams for TE Hunter Long, 3rd-round pick

    Team Needs:
    1. Cornerback: The Dolphins were miserable against the pass last year. They had a huge weakness at outside cornerback across from Xavien Howard. Dolphins trade for Jalen Ramsey

    2. Safety: More help is needed in the secondary, specifically a better safety to play next to Jevon Holland. Signed DeShon Elliott

    3. Guard: Tua Tagovailoa has shown that he can’t stay healthy. Improving the pass protection is extremely important. There’s a big hole at guard.

    4. Defensive Tackle: Miami must improve its pass rush. It has Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips on the edge, but they don’t have much in the interior.

    5. Linebacker: There’s not much at linebacker aside from Jerome Baker, so the position must be addressed. Signed David Long

    6. Backup Quarterback: The Dolphins need a safe backup behind Tua Tagovailoa because it’s become clear that Tagovailoa can’t stay healthy. Signed Mike White

    7. Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are both amazing, but Miami doesn’t really have a viable third receiver… Signed Braxton Berrios

    8. Tight End: …Or a tight end because Mike Gesicki will be entering free agency. Signed Tyler Kroft and Eric Saubert

    9. Running Back: Both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. are impending free agents, so at least one of them will need to be retained. Re-signed Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.

    10. Punter: Thomas Morstead will be a free agent as well. Signed Jake Bailey

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. DeShon Elliott, S, Lions. Age: 26.
      Signed with Dolphins

      DeShon Elliott is quality safety who was a nice addition for Detroit’s secondary. The downside is his dubious injury history.

    2. David Long, LB, Titans. Age: 26.
      Signed with Dolphins

      David Long is undersized, but he has done well to make something of himself after being a sixth-round pick. He’s coming off a tremendous season that ended in Week 13.

    3. Mike White, QB, Jets. Age: 28.
      Signed with Jets (2 years)

      Mike White has been the best Jets quarterback in years, though that’s not saying much. The problem with White is that he hasn’t shown an ability to stay healthy.

    4. Malik Reed, DE/OLB, Steelers. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins
    5. Braxton Berrios, WR, Jets. Age: 27. — Signed with Dolphins
    6. Eric Saubert, TE, Broncos. Age: 29. — Signed with Dolphins
    7. Jake Bailey, P, Patriots. Age: 26. — Signed with Dolphins
    8. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Jets. Age: 31. — Signed with Dolphins
    9. Tyler Kroft, TE, 49ers. Age: 30. — Signed with Dolphins

    Miami Dolphins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Thomas Morstead, P, Dolphins. Age: 37.
      Signed with Jets

      Thomas Morstead ranked as a top-10 punter last year, but he turns 37 this offseason.

    2. Melvin Ingram, DE, Dolphins. Age: 34.
      Melvin Ingram is slowing down now that he’s in his mid-30s, but he’s still a quality edge rusher. He recorded six sacks in 2022.

    3. Raheem Mostert, RB, Dolphins. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with Dolphins (2 years, $7.6 million)

      Raheem Mostert is capable of breaking long runs at any given time, but he has a dubious injury history. Teams are wary to rely on him as a lead back.

    4. Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, Dolphins. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Dolphins (2 years, $8.2 million)

      Jeff Wilson Jr. is a solid runner who fit right into Miami’s offense right away. He doesn’t offer much in the receiving department, however.

    5. Trey Flowers, DE, Dolphins. Age: 30.
      Trey Flowers was once known as a potent edge rusher, but he had a down 2021, then missed most of 2022 with an injury.

    6. Mike Gesicki, TE, Dolphins. Age: 27.
      Signed with Patriots (1 year, $9 million)

      Mike Gesicki was coming off two consecutive 700-yard receiving seasons, but saw his production diminish because of Tyreek Hill’s presence. He’s still a solid, but unspectacular tight end.

    7. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Dolphins. Age: 30.
      Teddy Bridgewater would be ranked higher if he didn’t have such a dubious injury history. He just can’t stay healthy.

    8. Brandon Shell, OT, Dolphins. Age: 31.
      Signed with Bills

      Brandon Shell is a quality swing tackle who is better at run blocking than pass protection.

    9. Elandon Roberts, LB, Dolphins. Age: 29.
      Signed with Steelers (2 years)

      Elandon Roberts is a solid run defender and an excellent blitzer, but he really struggles in coverage.

    10. Andrew Van Ginkel, DE, Dolphins. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Dolphins
    11. Nik Needham, CB, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Dolphins
    12. Eric Rowe, S, Dolphins. Age: 30. — Signed with Panthers
    13. Trent Sherfield, WR, Dolphins. Age: 27. — Signed with Bills
    14. Byron Jones, CB, Dolphins. Age: 30.
    15. John Jenkins, DT, Dolphins. Age: 34. — Signed with Raiders
    16. Greg “Mr. Reliable” Little, OT, Dolphins. Age: 25. — Signed with Texans
    17. Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Dolphins
    18. Clayton Fejedelem, S, Dolphins. Age: 30.
    19. Michael Deiter, C, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Signed with Texans
    20. Justin Bethel, S, Dolphins. Age: 33. — Re-signed with Dolphins
    21. Kendall Lamm, OT, Dolphins. Age: 31.
    22. Eric Fisher, OT, Dolphins. Age: 32.
    23. Adam Shaheen, TE, Dolphins. Age: 28.
    24. Geron Christian, OT, Dolphins. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Dolphins
    25. Justin Zimmer, DT, Dolphins. Age: 30.
    26. Sam Eguavoen, DE/OLB, Dolphins. Age: 30.

    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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