As we inch closer and closer to the start of training camp, we slowly start to break down the depth chart and which players could make an impact on the 53-man roster. In this installment of the 90-in-90 series, I take a look at a player that many believe will have a breakout year in 2019.
What can we expect from Dolphins’ middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan, as he plans to transition from the wide-9 to a hybrid defense? And can he become Brian Flores’ Dont’a Hightower?
When re-watching Raekwon McMillan’s 2018 season, it’s hard to overlook the fact that it was essentially his rookie year. And for a guy that was highly coveted out of college, he didn’t quite flash those elite tendencies. However, he did show he was more than capable of being a starting linebacker in the NFL. His coverage skills were above average and his ability to make an impact in the run game was apparent. At times he lacks speed and awareness, but overall he’s around the football on almost every down. He hopes to build upon his 2018 season.
2018 stats: 69 solo, 36 combined, 105 total tackles (5 tackles for loss)
Why he will progress
The Dolphins are moving away from the failed wide-9 and will implement a hybrid defense under head coach Brian Flores and DC Patrick Graham. Flores, the former linebackers coach in New England, should be able to help McMillan reach the next level. And don’t be surprised if he has a Dont’a Hightower-type role in the defense. Lastly, he showed enough in 2018 to prove he’s capable of a heavier workload in 2019.
Why he might regress
It is very unlikely that McMillan isn’t the starting middle linebacker for the Dolphins at the beginning of the season. And yes, I suppose it’s possible his skills don’t translate to a New England-style defense. More realistically, however, McMillan will be suitable at worst in a new defense. Injury concerns is the only thing I worry about when discussing his future success.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
100% percent. There’s no way the Dolphins move on from Raekwon McMillan after his 2018 season. Furthermore, he is still under contract through the 2020 season, which is when he will become an unrestricted free agent. He will be in Miami for the foreseeable future. Although they will need to make a decision sooner, rather than later.