It’s rookie week of training camp! That means real football is happening again, kinda, sorta. (Hey, it’s something!) However, it’s only the rookies. So we won’t get to see all the starters together. We are looking at this year draft class and our UDFA’s. Which is good for them to get the extra time, but hard to find things for the average fan to look for and engage with... which leads me to, “The Best Rookie Position Battle to Watch”...
The Battle of the Dancing Bears-
The DT position needed some depth. The Dolphins had Suh-(nami), Jordan Phillips and... and...and...not much of anything else. I mean, they signed Lawrence Okoye...so that was something. However he isn’t a rookie, and therefore not at practice this week. Which leaves Miami with 2 DT’s on the roster who will be in attendance.
Davon Godchaux Vs. Vincent Taylor-
Miami drafted two DT’s in the mid-later rounds of the draft this year in an attempt to sure up the depth at DT, and perhaps add some youth and upside that could push Jordan Phillips in his journey. Both DT’s sit on the high side of the weight range for 3-tech’s and low side of the weight range for a true NT or 1-tech. Which is good, because as I mentioned in my article last week, Miami has used the “Double 3’s Technique” in pass rush situations. Meaning, having guys who can be versatile across the line could be very key to running this defense.
Bench: 18 reps
Breakdown: He projects on the small side for a 1-tech. 315-330 is usually where those guys sit in the weight range. However, 3-techs range from 290-310 lbs, roughly. He has good hips and explosion out of his stance though “instincts” or quick reactions off the snap are missing. Perhaps this can actually be taught. But most see him as a rotational 4-3 DT who works best in a one-gap scheme (Miami).
What to watch for: He has “short limbs” and is “squatty” meaning he needs to learn to use leverage and timing better in able to get off blocks from interior linemen. Putting on additional weight and strength at the NFL level might make him a better run stuffer who can hold two blocks. It’s said he plays “team football” but doesn’t make a bunch of spectacular plays. Which to me reads as, he knows how to play assignment sound football even if he isn’t the most gifted athlete on the field. Watch to hear about him taking on double or single blocks. Is he pushing forward or being driven back? His stature and timing will determine how well he transitions into the NFL because the “Football IQ” is clearly there.
Height: 6’ 3”
Bench: 26 Reps
Breakdown: Vincent Taylor has all the limbs, and reach, and hands that Godchaux lacks. But Taylor has less explosion and flexibility. He is high cut, and top heavy. And many already think he needs to loose weight to play at his most effective. He may actually be better built for 3-4 DE. But I can see him getting a lot of use in sub-packages because he “plays on the other side of the line” or knows how to win early and get off blocks. That’s what Miami is looking for from the Double 3’s model.
What to Watch For: See if they ask Taylor to drop weight or gain any. It isn’t unheard of for him to be able to play with such a heavy top end, but he has to learn to compensate for such. Taylor has good value on ST’s because he has such long limbs for his build, he blocked a number of field goals in his college career. He could be a sub in for Suh, but Miami would likely switch to an Under package to minimize his weaknesses in run defense; opposite of what they do with Suh. This week, look to see how he is doing his ability to shoot the gaps. He needs to be providing interior pressure or TFL’s.
I suspect this week we will see a lot of the two side by side. Yet, as training camp progresses, watch to see if one of them pops or fizzles. Miami doesn’t have much depth at the DT spot, and it would be nice if these two rookies who look similar on paper could turn into solid rotational back-ups who play two very different styles. One coming up over the other could determine: who, when, and how the Miami D-line plays next season. This could be a very important spot to watch.
Honorable Mention: WR’s Drew Morgan and Isiah Ford... There are only a very few number of WR roster spots behind Parker, Landry, Stills and Carroo (too much draft capital to go anywhere yet)...One, maybe two spots left after that. Plus, Grant and Scott who were both on the team last season. Breaking the WR roster in Miami is no easy task. Drew Morgan flashed early, Isiah Ford cost draft capital and has some very nice college stats...none of that guarantees them anything in Miami. In fact, it was the likelihood that neither player makes the roster that kept me from selecting this group.