The 2019 NFL Draft has come and gone, and the Dolphins roster now looks dramatically different than it did just one week ago.
The team garnered national media attention with its trade for last year’s 10th overall draft pick, Josh Rosen, and his landing in Miami will absolutely be factored in to my overall grading of Miami’s draft class. Aside from Rosen, the Dolphins added some quality players at a number of positions, but how does it all stack up?
First, let’s lay out all of the picks. Below is Miami’s full list of 2019 draft selections (including Rosen):
Round 1 (13th overall) - Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Trade - Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Round 3 (78th overall) - Michael Dieter, OL, Wisconsin
Round 5 (151st overall) - Andrew Van Ginkel, LB, Wisconsin
Round 6 (202nd overall) - Isaiah Prince, OT, Ohio
Round 7 (233rd overall) - Chandler Cox, FB, Auburn
Round 7 (234th overall) - Myles Gaskin, RB, Washington
The Dolphins began the draft by selecting Wilkins, one of the top defenders in all of college football last season. He routinely caused havoc for opposing offenses and helped lead Clemson to a College Football National Championship. He was also the recipient of the William V. Campbell trophy (often called the “Academic Heisman”) for his achievements off the field and in the classroom. He received his degree from Clemson in just 2 & 1⁄2 years.
On the field, his performance culminated in being named a first-team All American for the 2018 season. Wilkins accumulated 57 tackles, including 15 for loss, six sacks, and two forced fumbles last season. He’ll be an immediate contributor on Miami’s d-line and should start as early as Week 1. His presence in the locker room should result in Wilkins becoming one of the leaders of Miami’s defense, and the team as a whole, very early in his career.
Round 2 is where Miami’s draft become most interesting. After intense negotiations with the Arizona Cardinals for quarterback Josh Rosen resulted in Miami’s top brass feeling as though the 48th overall selection was too steep a price for the QB, the Dolphins initiated a trade with the New Orleans Saints. Miami sent its 48th overall selection and a 2019 fourth-round pick to New Orleans in exchange for the 62nd overall selection, a 2019 sixth-round pick, and a 2020 second-round pick.
Now holding an extra second-round pick in next year’s draft, and having maximized the value of this year’s second-round pick, Miami traded the 62nd overall selection and a 2020 fifth-round pick to the Cardinals in exchange for Rosen, who just last year was picked 10th overall by Arizona. In essence, the Dolphins traded a 2019 second-round pick, a 2019 fourth-round pick, and a 2020 fifth-round pick in exchange for Josh Rosen, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2019 sixth-round pick.
No matter what you think of Rosen and his potential, the fact of the matter is that he is just one year removed from being the 10th overall pick, has a load of potential, and will cost the Dolphins virtually nothing on the salary cap for the next three years. When the draft compensation is taken into account, it’s only fair to say this was a masterful move by general manager Chris Grier. Even if Rosen doesn’t pan out as a franchise QB, the Dolphins paid proportionally very little to test him out when compared to what most teams spend on QB’s of his stature (often first-round picks).
In the third round, the Dolphins selected Dieter, one of the top interior linemen in this draft class. Given the fact that this draft class was top heavy on the defensive side of the ball, some top tier offensive talent got pushed down the draft board, and Miami took advantage. Dieter may not be the most athletic lineman on the field, but his versatility is unparalleled, something head coach Brian Flores has mentioned he values in his players. Dieter has played double-digit games at tackle, center, and most recently, left guard. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons. He will likely compete for the starting left guard spot right away. Dieter’s durability has also been a big asset, as he played in 13 or more games in four straight collegiate seasons.
Van Ginkel will likely start out as a developmental player for the Dolphins. Last season, he started 11 games for the Badgers and accumulated 46 tackles, seven for loss, 4.5 sacks, two pass breakups, and one blocked kick, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors. With Flores likely to employ a variety of schemes, Van Ginkel should see time as a hybrid OLB/Edge defender when the team takes the field in 3-4 packages. While Van Ginkel takes time to acclimate to the defense, he should be able to make an immediate impact on special teams.
Prince is a hulking offensive lineman (6’6”, 305 lbs) that could compete for the starting job at right tackle as early as his rookie season. He was a three-year starter at Ohio State and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2018. Prince was also elected team captain for his senior season. He cited Buckeye’s practices, where he went against Nick Bosa, the second overall pick in this year’s draft, every day, as one of the keys to his development. Don’t be surprised if he swipes the starting job from Zach Sterup before Week 1.
Cox was listed as both a fullback and a running back at various points in his career at Auburn. If he makes the 53-man roster, he’ll likely help out in the red zone and as an extra blocker in the backfield. Cox said that his visit with the Dolphins during the pre-draft process was by far his favorite, and he calls it a “dream come true” to be drafted.
Gaskin earned second-team All-Pac 12 honors for the 2017 and 2018 seasons. His production over the course of his collegiate career is truly remarkable, as he rushed for over 1,200 yards in four consecutive seasons at Washington while accumulating 62 total touchdowns. He will compete with Cox, Kenneth Fowles, and a number of undrafted free agents for the chance to backup Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage on Miami’s depth chart.
Given the selection of Wilkins, who should be an immediate starter, and the additions of Dieter and Prince, who are potential Week 1 starters, I would give Miami’s draft a solid B+ because I believe the team still needs help at defensive end and cornerback. Unfortunately, the Dolphins simply didn’t have enough picks to address every position of need in this draft, and I believe taking the best player available regardless of position is the best draft philosophy anyway.
With all that said, Grier’s deft maneuvering that allowed the team to trade for Josh Rosen while still netting an extra second-round pick in next year’s draft deserves applause, and it boosts my draft grade for 2019 to an A-.
Bravo, Mr. Grier. Bravo.
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