The offseason has been full of noise about the Miami Dolphins and the loss of talented players like Ndamukong Suh, Mike Pouncey, and Jarvis Landry. Miami is expected to take a step back, from their 6-10 step back last year, due to all of that “Pro Bowl talent” that is now somewhere else in the league. Except, no one seems to realize that they brought in talent to replace those players.
Maybe the talent they brought in is not a generational player at defensive tackle like Suh, but the younger players that have developed behind him, Jordan Phillips and Davon Godchaux, and the addition of Akeem Spence, should be able to assist in closing the gap. Maybe Landry is a perennial Pro Bowl player and the reigning receptions king for the league, but Miami added Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson to fill the slot role and will be looking to share the ball more, rather than have one receiver dominate the catches. Maybe Pouncey was a Pro Bowl center for years, but after repeated injuries, just keeping him healthy was the bigger challenge; Miami now has veteran Daniel Kilgore, who should be able to give Miami a similar level to what Pouncey provided last year.
Pro Football Focus listed 20 players from around the league who should have an immediate impact with their new team this season. They appear to have made a mistake in their list, however, as the Dolphins actually have two players make the list. Maybe Miami actually did add some talent this year.
The first time the Dolphins make the list is for guard Josh Sitton, who had an 86.0 grade in 2017 according to PFF. Of Sitton’s addition, PFF writes:
Sitton, a 10-year veteran guard and former fourth-round pick, has flown under the radar as one of the league’s premier talents. He has now earned an 85.0-plus overall grade for nine consecutive seasons, all while playing at least 700 offensive snaps in each of the nine seasons. Trading Chicago for Miami, Sitton’s consistency and veteran presence should have an immediate positive effect on the Dolphins’ locker room and offensive line as a whole.
They then come back and list Miami’s first-round draft pick, defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, gradining him as an 84.8 for his last year at Alabama. PFF wrote of Fitzpatrick:
Slotted as our No. 3 overall cornerback entering the 2018 NFL Draft, Fitzpatrick is a proven playmaker with great versatility in the secondary. The former Alabama product earned 81.0-plus overall grades in each of his three seasons in Tuscaloosa and allowed just a 66.5 passer rating when targeted in his career.
Fitzpatrick has the traits and skillset to play outside cornerback with the Miami Dolphins, but his limited experience at the position could force him into a hybrid slot cornerback/safety role early in his career, certainly a place he can thrive.
Miami should see both Sitton and Fitzpatrick have large roles on the team this year, and the fact that PFF sees it should be a positive for fans. Maybe the Dolphins are not an inept as the national media seems to think they are this offseason.