Anyone that watched the Miami Dolphins this season, can see that the defense remained the team’s Achilles heel throughout the year. In the offseason, Miami chose not to overpay Olivier Vernon, who left for New York in exchange for an insane amount of money. Instead, Miami relied on 34-year old Cameron Wake, who continued to produce, showing that age is just a number. Wake recorded 11.5 sacks in 2016, an impressive feat for any player, let alone one coming off a significant Achilles injury. However, outside of Wake, Miami struggled to get to the quarterback. Andre Branch flashed at times, and showed the potential of being a pass-rush specialist if the Dolphins decide to resign the young defensive end. Mario Williams was signed, in hopes of bringing the same kind of passion he did early in his career. That did not happen, and Miami plans to cut ties with the soon-to-be 32-year old defensive end. Furthermore, Dion Jordan is on the verge of another meltdown, and he too will likely be sent packing in the offseason.
Which begs the question, what are the Dolphins plans at defensive end? Free agency is an option, but Miami would be better suited to use those resources to sure up the team’s uninspiring linebacker situation. The Dolphins will almost certainly spend a great deal of their draft picks on defensive players, and with the team selecting at 22nd overall, a certain Michigan EDGE rusher could be a target for Adam Gase and Co. His name is Taco Charlton, and he would be everything the team needs to sure up that defensive line for the immediate, and long-term future.
Weight: 273 LBs
Hometown: Pickerington, Ohio
The Dolphins struggled mightily against the run this season, ranking 30th in the NFL in yards allowed with 140.4 yards per game. It’s hard for any team to win allowing that kind of success on the ground. Taco Charlton isn’t filet mignon, but he’s no soft-shell Taco either. In fact, he sets the edge well, making it difficult for defenders to get to the outside.
Here, Taco uses his strength to forcefully move the tight end. This forces Barkley to change direction. Yes, Barkley turns what looked to be a loss into a respectable gain, but Taco made things difficult for one of the nation’s best running backs.
He’s also a very good pass rusher, who utilizes his strength, as well as speed, to attack opposing quarterbacks. Taco has developed a successful spin move over the course of his collegiate career, but needs to continue to master it in order to be one of the NFL’s upper-echelon pass rushers.
Although he gives up contain on the outside, the spin move is a thing of beauty.
Taco also displays a successful swim move, that would make Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps proud. Below, he engages with the tackle, before utilizing the swim move. He beats the lineman with relative ease.
One of the things I love most about a Taco, is its versatility. Whether you prefer hot sauce, or red onion, chicken or pork, a Taco’s versatility is endless. The same can be said for the 6’6 defensive end. This is something Jim Harbaugh realized, as he consistently moved Taco from side to side. He even lined up at defensive tackle at times. He’s a big, physical defensive lineman, who uses his strength and quickness to out maneuver his foes.
In this play, Taco uses his quickness to beat the lineman, forcing the quarterback to make an inadvertent throw.
Mr. Taco even has a little Ndamukong Suh in him.
Even though the right tackle gets a head start, he’s no match for Taco Charlton, who blows right past the tackle.
Like most top prospects, Taco has his flaws. One of the things I noticed when watching film, is he appears sluggish at times. Most of the tim he’s quick off the ball, beating the lineman opposite of him. However, he struggles to do this consistently, and must continue to hone his craft if he wants to be an elite defender in the NFL.
He must also continue to develop his pass-rush arsenal. Taco has plenty of room for improvement, but his skill-set makes him an intriguing prospect for any team in search of an every-down defensive end.
It is anyone’s guess as to what the Dolphins might do in free agency and the draft. However, given where the Dolphins currently pick, landing an elite defender like Taco Charlton would be a huge step in the right direction. With Cameron Wake continuing to age and the Dolphins having no answer opposite of him, Miami must sign a defensive end or two this offseason. Taco Charlton is an NFL ready prospect, who would start immediately in Matt Burke’s attacking defense. Whether or not Miami goes defensive end in the first round is anyone’s guess, but Taco has the goods to be everything the Dolphins so desperately need at defensive end.
Yo quiero Taco Charlton?!?!?