The Dolphins – Loading up for a rebuild
Result: Missed Playoffs
2019 Regular season record: 5-11
2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 25th 19.1 PPG
2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 32nd 30.9 PPG
2020 Draft First Round Pick: 5, 18, 26
Coach: Brian Flores
The Offseason Scenario:
O.K. Yes, we could say that Miami has been looking to rebuild for a while. Since Brady and the Hoodie united in New England to put a stranglehold on the AFC East, the Dolphins have had ten head coaches and a whopping twenty-one, yes twenty-one starting quarterbacks. That number is even crazier because Ryan Tannehill locked down over a half decades worth of Dolphins games by himself, so it’s essentially twenty dudes in only fifteen seasons. Not surprisingly, only six of those seasons have had Miami above .500 and the Fins have made the playoffs in only four of those.
Say what you want about the Patriots dominating the division, but Miami hasn’t really been putting up much of a fight, game-winning trick play miracles aside. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Miami is seriously geared up to reload this offseason, and they’ve gone all in to improve that league-worst defense in free agency. Miami needs help all over the field in 2020, but here’s the thing: they might just have enough resources to pull off a worst to first swing in the division.
Free Agent Frenzy:
I’m going to start this by telling you that the Dolphins still have just under $24 million to spend in free agency per overthecap.com, good for sixth-most in the league. With that in mind, the Dolphins are clearly looking to turn around that defensive unit. They’ve already brought in ace cornerback Byron Jones to pair with Xavien Howard. It’s a move that will more than likely turn the Dolphins 26th ranked pass defense into a top half unit overnight and do much to replace the loss of skilled but poorly-deployed Minkah Fitzpatrick, who flourished in Pittsburgh after being traded away.
They’ve also lured away elite defenders from AFC rivals by bringing in LB Kyle Van Noy from New England and defensive ends Shaq Lawson and Emmanuel Ogbah from Buffalo and Cleveland respectively. It’s a massive haul of defensive talent in the hands of second year head coach Brian Flores, the former New England DC. Let’s see what he can do with it.
Seriously Premature Draft Hunches:
When I said that the Dolphins had a lot of resources to rebuild with, I wasn’t kidding in the slightest. Miami will have three, count them, three picks in the first round, coming at 5, 18 and 26. The fifth pick is Miami’s, but the others came in from Pittsburgh and Houston in the deals for Minkah Fitzpatrick and Laremy Tunsil.
It’s not a secret that Miami covets Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, but what’s unclear is if Miami will need to trade up to get him. The number one and two picks are considered locks at this point, with Joe Burrow headed to Cincinnati and Chase Young headed to Washington. New York is all set at quarterback with young Daniel Jones, so the only question is whether Detroit can pull a fast one on Miami by feigning interest in Tua. Sure, they have Matthew Stafford clogging up their salary cap, so I don’t seriously think they will, but if the Lions can convince Miami that they’ll take him at three, the Dolphins might be swindled into trading two first round picks to trade up. It would be savvy as heck for the Lions to do this, and even savvier for Miami to stand pat.
Bear with me here.
Worst case scenario for Miami: Detroit takes Tua and they dodge the bullet of a slightly built, injury prone and risk-laden quarterback, then take the best quarterback left at five, maybe Oregon’s Justin Herbert or Utah State’s Jordan Love. They can then spend their second two picks on a weapon for their new QB and a stout offensive lineman to protect him. This is a huge upgrade for Miami, no question.
Best case from Miami’s perspective: The Lions pass on Tua, so they get the guy they wanted in the first place, then they use the next two picks the same way. The only way that Miami could really botch this would be to overspend to move up two picks, then have Tua miss a lot of time due to injury and not pan out.
If you think that it sounds like I’m not as high on Tua as some people, you’re right.
Don’t get me wrong. He’s an elite passer that can make all of the throws needed to be a very successful NFL quarterback, but he missed a lot of time while at Alabama, suffering five relatively major injuries in three years: Broken finger, sprained knee, high ankle sprain on each leg and the biggie, the dislocated and broken right hip. I suspect that this trend will only get worse at the next level, which isn’t much of a stretch. I’d be happy to be wrong here, but I see some serious risk in taking the Bama QB too early, especially if you have to trade away draft capital to get him.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.