We are chugging along in this look at the Miami Dolphins position groups that may not need such heavy tweaking, as opposed to other major needs come April in the NFL Draft in Las Vegas.
Now, the fun’s over.
The aqua elephant in the room is the fact that with the current state of the Dolphins, positive trinkets aside, this team needs an infusion of talent in the worst way, and the 2020 Draft isn’t the time to be very picky on how the front office must improve the team.
However, in the unique situation that is the Miami Dolphins 2020 NFL Draft, this organization has too many picks to not make a major advancement forward, and that is even assuming not every single pick hits.
Miami found gems in other areas than just the draft last season. They utilized the trade market, free agency, and strategic signings of rookies who didn’t get their named called in 2019’s draft. Those methods have to be considered in this study, and track record is something we must factor in as well, even though there is just one season of Dolphin Data on how Brian Flores is looking to field his team in which Chris Grier and staff sets for him.
The Dolphins own three 1st round picks, and as said in redundancy in this series, six picks in the Draft’s top 70 selections. This, again, is unheard of in the modern era of the NFL or any other era at that.
The age old adage of “Best Player Available” certainly applies here with a massive asterisk. That asterisk could be a tough one to take, as it may mean passing on a stud receiver or running back in the 1st round when bigger needs still need to be taken care of.
Which brings me to the look at the secondary.
I will say that this breakdown has it’s own asterisk attached to it, and that being the status of cornerback Xavien Howard. Howard is currently dealing with the fallout of a December 2019 arrest for domestic battery. With this still being under investigation, and the repercussions of them to be determined how it will affect Miami as a football team, the secondary could become an area of greater need in a matter of a moment. This is all a deeper conversation for another day.
Even assuming Howard returns for Miami, who was giving a massive $76.5 million, five-year contract extension back in the summer, the team is still in need of help in the secondary. His inclusion makes this a need that isn’t as profound as say, an edge pass rusher or offense lineman.
The 18th and 26th overall picks, in my mind, should be on the offensive and/or the defensive lines. The cornerbacks and safeties of Miami has been game of musical-chairs at times, with veterans like Bobby McCain and Eric Rowe mixing it up at corner as well as safety, and rookie Nik Needham proving himself as a viable 2nd cover-corner for the Dolphins.
Even as Howard was shut down last season with injury, the Miami defensive backfield showed some promise with guys like cornerback, Jomal Wiltz and safety, Adrian Colbert. Of course there is the realization that these guys are more depth filling defensive-backs versus week-in-week-out starters, but they provide the ability to focus on these positions in rounds 2 or 3, where the Dolphins have a total of three picks after their 1st round triple-play.
Having numerous additional picks as opposed to a standard draft class, Miami has an opportunity to load up on certain positions during Day 3 of the draft and hopefully they can find a gem or two, or three. Cornerbacks are certainly available in rounds four and on, and while I wouldn’t be upset with a round 2 defensive back called, there are areas of greater need, in my opinion.
This all could be amended if in fact there is news that leaves Howard outside of the teams plans moving forward, but until anything close to that is even whispered, it is business as usual.
A first round corner would not shock me, should Howard and the Dolphins part ways.
The safety position is certainly an area of need above the cornerback situation. There happen to be at least five extremely viable options in this draft class, but the upper tier of Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney may be unattainable. There are potential second round steals of Ashtyn Davis of California and Antoine Winfield, Jr. of Minnesota or even deeper in the weekend with Utah’s Julian Blackmon.
Davis is certainly a name to remember, as Miami hired Gerald Alexander from the University of California just a week ago. Alexander coached Davis in college.
The @CalFootball defense has catapulted to a new level, and Ashtyn Davis is at the forefront.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 26, 2018
The Golden Bears’ safety nabbed two interceptions— one for a pick-six, and recorded 141 all-purpose yards.
Davis is your #Pac12FB Defensive Player of the Week. https://t.co/j65bWTfFvD pic.twitter.com/Q7OHHEtYr9
Brian Flores will certainly be coveting corners and safeties, and with his scheme and ability to “coach’em-up”, expect a lesser-named prospect to be put in a position for success, much like a Needham, who made a name for himself with his ability to break-up passes as well as opportunistically makes plays. Needham recorded a sack, a pair of interceptions and a forced fumble as an undrafted rookie in under a full-season of action.
So, when looking at the first round, while there are prospects that are potential home-runs in areas mentioned, sometimes it is wiser to solidify other areas with blue-chippers. Those blue-chip offensive linemen could make things easier for a runner, a receiver and especially a quarterback, although not as sexy a selection.
It’s a trickle down affect, though.
Same to be said on the defensive side of the ball. A heavy pass-rush, which should be improved before the evening is out on Thursday, April 23rd, will make life easier on corners and safeties.
I will preach this until hopefully old and grey, but you build from the lines, out. And then everything else will fall in to place from there. Miami has an opportunity, through savvy free agent signings as well as strategic drafting, to vastly improve their team with a relative swiftness. Three more wins is an 8-8 team a season removed from being dubbed historically bad.
That is progressive success. And let us not forget...
We are about to witness a Super Bowl where one team, just a few months ago, picked 2nd in the NFL Draft thanks the league’s second-worst record. This just means that anything can happen from year-to-year. While the Niners have many more specifics as to exactly why they went from a worst to first situation, it only shows that life in the NFL can change in a second.