The Miami Dolphins used their first three selections in the 2019 NFL Draft to add defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, trade for quarterback Josh Rosen, and pick offensive lineman Michael Deiter. After sitting out the fourth round of the selection process, the Dolphins came back in the fifth round to add a pass rusher. Selection of outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel gave Miami two straight Wisconsin Badgers.
Projected by Lance Zierlein from NFL.com as a seventh-round pick, the Dolphins clearly targeted Van Ginkel as a prospect they wanted to secure, using the 151st pick to land him. “Unimposing 3-4 outside linebacker with decent athletic ability but a concerning lack of aggression as a run blocker and consistency as a pass-rusher,” Zierlein wrote of Van Ginkel pre-Draft. “Van Ginkel has the motor to tally stats with effort and secondary rush, but he needs a better rush plan and more proactive hands to set him up for success in attacking the quarterback. He will need a lot more strength and toughness to hold up as a run defender, but his length and production on special teams could give him a shot at the back end of the roster or on a practice squad.”
Zierlein did not sound high on Deiter when were took a closer look at the lineman, and he sounds even lower on Van Ginkel. As we did yesterday with Deiter, to get a closer look at Van Ginkel, I turned to SB Nation’s Wisconsin site, Bucky’s 5th Quarter, and Owen Riese.
Van Ginkel’s selection in the fifth round by Miami has been described as a “reach” with some grades having him a seventh-round pick or an undrafted free agent. The Dolphins seemed to like him during the pre-Draft processes, and obviously liked him enough to get him in the fifth. Where did you see him being selected? Did Miami reach for him?
I was taken aback a bit as well that AVG was selected so highly, but good for him for sure. I thought he’d probably be in that second half of Day 3 to undrafted area. He’s an athletic guy with an interesting background (started his college career at South Dakota before transferring to Iowa Western CC before ending up at Wisconsin) and had production at Wisconsin, but he didn’t have a ton of tape and an undefined position moving to the NFL, I believe, led to some of the hesitancy for NFL teams. I think they probably reached for him, yes. But for a team like Miami, they’re looking to hit home runs on athletic profiles, and Van Ginkel supplies that. If you’re confident you can continue to mold the piece of clay, and he becomes a special teams stalwart and a rotational linebacker, I think you’re happy with the selection.
Van Ginkel primarily played outside linebacker at Wisconsin and that appears where he would likely play in the NFL. With Miami looking to play more of a hybrid defense this year, with both 4-3 and 3-4 characteristics, pass rush and coverage abilities will be a high priority on the outside. How will Van Ginkel do in those roles?
I think that’s where Miami’s interest in Van Ginkel lies. He was effective rushing the passer when he was healthy, but Wisconsin also asks their 3-4 outside linebackers to cover more than the average college defense, so Van Ginkel has that experience as well. He made a few big plays in coverage at the end of the 2017 season, and his length and athleticism should bode well for him. If Brian Flores is looking to utilize him in a role similar to Kyle Van Noy in New England, where he can pass rush but isn’t primarily asked to do it, I think that’s a good and suitable role for AVG in Miami.
Miami’s starting linebackers are likely set with Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan, and Jerome Baker setting the 4-3 system - then likely adding Charles Harris as the rush linebacker in the 3-4 set. That means Van Ginkel will probably be asked to excel on special teams as well as on defense. What does he bring to that aspect of the game?
Van Ginkel is a relentless player with a motor that doesn’t quit. I think he’ll thrive in a special teams role in Miami while he continues to develop in the Dolphins’ strength and conditioning program. I think he can wear a few different hats for the Dolphins on defense, but special teams is where I expect Van Ginkel to make his mark and prove his worth early for Miami. He has experience on both kick off and punt teams for UW.
Where are his weaknesses?
A lack of durability and consistency maybe? Van Ginkel made a lot of plays for Wisconsin when he was on the field, but I think he’d the first to admit he wasn’t on the field as often as he’d have preferred due to an ankle injury that hampered him a bit in 2018. He’s athletically talented, but he certainly still needs to develop as a pass rusher. If he plays in an off-ball capacity as a linebacker he’ll also need experience, as he was only an edge defender in the Badgers 3-4 system.
If asked to start day one, will he be ready?
I am as sure of Van Ginkel not being ready to start as I was of Deiter being ready. Van Ginkel is a talented kid who can do quite a few things for the Dolphins organization, but he’s not ready to play day one. He needs to continue to add weight and get stronger to play on the outside in the NFL. While I wouldn’t completely rule it out of the question at some point, I wouldn’t want him in the lineup in week one.