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Was Davon Godchaux Miami’s Steal of the Draft?

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And, did I call it?

Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins
First time in a Dolphins Uniform
Photo by Joe Skipper/Getty Images

It now appears, heading into the third week of Miami Dolphins training camp where position battles are usually decided, that Davon Godchaux has a very good chance to end up the starting DT next to Suh. That’s a big jump from rookie 5th round draft pick to potential game one starter. How did he get there? I think I have an idea.

The Past-

Pre-draft:

Before the 2017 draft, and before becoming a contributing author, I published a fanpost in which I discussed the draft from an analytical stand point. The point I was getting at was that DT’s and OG’s often come out of the mid rounds. In there I specifically sited that the sweet spot for picking DT talent was rounds 4-6. In the comments, when pressed, I named a few names I was looking at from the draft class. One of the three names listed was Davon Godchaux. And when I kept looking I wanted Miami to pick him or Jim Brown in the 5th at DT. From what I had researched, it appeared not only was it a general spot for DT talent, but more specifically, for the 1 tech non pass rusher type DT’s.

Post Draft:

Well, I was shocked when Miami actually selected someone I wanted them to select all the way down in the late rounds. That’s like a one 300 shot, or something. Yet, I tempered any expectations I had. I even warned others to temper all expectations they had for low round picks and UDFA. I brought Godchaux up a number of other times as well, though I fully expected Jordan Phillips to take the starting spot, In my training camp battles preview I listed DT, in my Rookie Week of Training Camp article I highlighted the DT’s featuring Godchaux and Taylor.

The Present-

The Tides Begin to Turn:

However, the last couple of weeks I have watched what coaches called a “motivation” for Phillips turn into Davon Godchaux having the upper hand in a battle for the starting position. A few snaps for a week during training camp is one thing. Call it motivation... if it works. However, Godchaux never let go. Plus, as I highlighted in the rookie week article linked above, he’s the best fit for the 1 tech spot besides Phillips. Then, something unexpected happened...

Two Starts in Two Weeks:

Davon Godchaux started the preseason week one game over Phillips. And he played well by all accounts, even sliding over to the 3 tech spot when Suh came out and Phillips came into play, showing his versatility. And he kept getting starter reps in practice for another week. AND THEN- The Dolphins not only elected to start him against the Ravens in preseason week two, but they selected him to be “mic’d up”. A seemingly odd honor for the 5th round rookie. Except that, again, he not only played all the starter reps at DT but continued to play through the first half along side Phillips once more.

After the game there were a number of Phillips/Godchaux related articles. One of which called Phillips losing the starting spot as one of the 5 takeaways from the game but praising Godchaux, “Fifth-round pick Davon Godchaux started ahead of him for the second straight game and is playing well enough to keep the job. He had two tackles and got good push on the line in the first half” - Jason Lieser Palm Beach Post. Lieser was so concerned about this being a significant storyline he wrote a separate article just to speculate on the nature of Jordan Phillips’ downfall and future in Miami.

Fellow Palm Beach Post writer Hal Halib seems to agree, when grading preseason game two he has this to say about the DL, “Let’s cut to the chase. The Dolphins got a steal in DT Davon Godchaux of LSU in the fifth round. Godchaux continues to cause offensive lines fits and has lapped enigmatic Jordan Phillips to see who lines up next to Ndamukong Suh. Strong praise indeed.

The Future-

What to watch for:

Going into next week be on the look out for Godchaux to continue to get reps with the first team. Is he getting all the first team reps with Suh? Is he getting a lions share? (no Detroit pun intended) Are Phillips and Godchaux splitting the reps evenly? Then watch to see who starts in preseason game three. That is usually when coaches are using the game as a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Does Godchaux start? Does he get all the reps next to Suh? It will be telling if they come out of the game together. Or it may play like it has for the last two games where they get Godchaux a look playing on the field with Phillips again. Whatever happens, week three of the preseason is when the “battles” are usually won and lost. So this is getting real...

Predictions:

I think Godchaux is going to hold onto the spot. Phillips is huge, 333 lbs. is just big, and the coaches wanted him down to 320, which didn’t happen. It might just be that Phillips can’t keep the energy and force up for long periods of time at that size. Godchaux is pushing that 315 mark now on a smaller frame, giving him what the coaches called “country strength”. I hope Godchaux becomes an above average and productive starter at the position. We haven’t had a good 1 Tech/ NT since Paul Soliai, which has been one of the major plagues of our run defense. If Godchaux becomes that guy, I might just have to go get the jersey... I kinda called it after all.