The Miami Dolphins spent the weekend adding 11 new draft picks, one veteran running back, and at least nine new undrafted free agents. It was a busy weekend in South Florida, and all around the league, and it is already having impacts on rosters, including the Dolphins’ roster, where four players were waived yesterday.
During the NFL season, we typically do a post-game stock watch for the Dolphins, with some players going up based on their most recent performance, and some sliding. It is the same as a “winners, losers” type of post, but I just do not like calling a player a loser. So, instead, we will go with stock up and stock down.
Stock up: Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback
Yes, the Dolphins drafted Fitzpatrick’s replacement, but things are better for Fitzpatrick after the Draft than they were before it. Tua Tagovailoa is going to take over the starting job at some point, but it may not be this season, and it likely will not be before the start of the season. The Dolphins seem to locked in on Fitzpatrick starting in 2020, which means all the pieces the Dolphins just added to set up Tagovailoa for long-term success, are there for Fitzpatrick in the short term. The Dolphins never hid the fact that Fitzpatrick was a bridge quarterback to the rookie they were going to select this year, but Fitzpatrick is in a position to continue to find success while Tagovailoa develops.
Stock down: Taybor Pepper, long snapper
Teams do not typically draft a long snapper, especially a year after a free agent addition unseats the immortal John Denney. Yet, Miami did exactly that, adding Blake Ferguson in the sixth round. It did not signal great things for Pepper, and he has already been waived by Miami.
Stock up: Christian Wilkins, defensive tackle
Wilkins got some help up front with Miami’s addition of defensive tackle Raekwon Davis in the second round. A two-gap defensive tackle, Davis gives Miami the nose tackle for a 3-4 front or a pocket-collapsing defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. Plus, Davis is giant, a 6-foot-7, 313 pound nose tackle just took away sight lines in the middle of the field for quarterbacks, which will let Wilkins, more of a pass-rush defensive tackle than Davis, get after the quarterback. Wilkins is 24, Davis is 22 - and add in Davon Godchaux who is 25 - and the Dolphins have a young nucleus to the defensive line that should grow together into a powerful unit.
Stock down: Charles Harris, defensive end
A 2017 first-round pick, Harris has struggled to prove he can be a pass-rushing force in the NFL. The Dolphins did everything they could last year to hide Harris, who appeared in 14 games and recorded a half-sack. He has a career tally of just 3.5 sacks, not a good stat line for a pass rusher. Even with the transition to a more 3-4 scheme, where Harris would move from a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end to a stand-up rush linebacker, there was no breakout during Harris’ third season. Now, heading into his four year, Harris already saw Miami pick up Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy, both of whom should see plenty of edge rushing opportunities, while Andre Van Ginkel, who spent the first half of his rookie year on injured reserve, should be healthy and ready to be fully added to the edge rushing rotation. In the Draft, Miami added defensive ends Jason Strowbridge and Curtis Weaver in the fifth round. Strowbridge may end up kicked inside as a defensive tackle or a run-stopping defensive end in a 3-4 set, but Weaver should develop into a pass rusher. Harris may have to prove himself early this summer to remain a part of Miami’s pass-rush plans.
Stock up: Jesse Davis, offensive tackle
Miami addressed the offensive line hard in the Draft, selecting offensive tackles in each of the first two rounds, then picking up a guard in the fourth round. All the additions, however, still seem to leave Davis as having a role on the line. Currently the right tackle, Davis and Robert Hunt likely battle for that spot, with the winner assuming the starting position, then the runner-up moving inside to guard. Solomon Kindley, the fourth-round guard out of Georgia, will likely play a factor in the position battle there, along with Michael Deiter and Shaq Calhoun, but it feels like Davis is still in position to be a starter this year.
Stock down: Nik Needham, cornerback
In the 2020 NFL, teams need a ton of cornerbacks, especially when the injury bug seems to bite that part of your roster every year. Needham, who surprised as he developed last year, will be that key depth piece for Miami, but the selection of Noah Igbinoghene in the first round really hurt Needham’s playing time. Xavien Howard - assuming health does not keep him off the field - and Byron Jones will lock down the outside corner positions, while Igbinghene will likely take the slot. That leaves Needham, who played in 12 games last year with two interceptions, 11 passes, defensed a sack, and a forced fumble, as likely the fourth cornerback at the start of training camp.