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Dolphins Fine Tune Roster As Opener Approaches

Miami Dolphins Training Camp Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Last week saw two fairly recent draftees by the Miami Dolphins being traded to other teams. 2018 fourth rounder Kalen Ballage was sent to the New York Jets for a conditional seventh round pick and 2017 second rounder Raekwon McMillan was sent to the Las Vegas Raiders, along with a fifth round pick, in exchange for a fourth rounder next year.

The Dolphin fan base seems more upset about McMillan’s departure than Ballage’s, ostensibly since McMillan was drafted higher and had made considerably more contributions to the defense than Ballage did to the offense. But before the team can ultimately decide which players they’re going to keep, they must first decide which guys they don’t want, as they narrow down their final choices for opening day. Since pretty much everyone, including opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks, knows, McMillan was, to put it politely, a liability in pass coverage. Since, dating back to his days as the de facto defensive coordinator in New England, Brian Flores likes to employ elements of deception and subterfuge in his defenses, any player who is largely one dimensional isn’t going to be a guy who sees the field a whole lot. And in case you’re wondering whether McMillan could have been retained as a pass rusher, he didn’t have a single sack during his days in Miami.

With the bumper crop of talented rookies and free agents the Dolphins brought in, there are likely to be a few surprise cuts as we draw nearer to the start of the regular season, and the fact that Dolphins GM Chris Grier could get anything at all for either one of those guys is a testament to his skills. As for the offseason haul by the team, other than fifth rounder Curtis Weaver, who is already gone, the rest of them look like they could well stick, at least to start the season. Of the OL quartet of Jackson, Hunt, Kindley and Flowers, I think all four of them could see significant playing time by mid season, and both the defensive backs they drafted, Noah Igbinoghene and Brandon Jones look like locks, as well.

Meanwhile, after hearing his name repeatedly associated with the Dolphins for most of the past two years, are Dolphin fans sick and tired of hearing about quarterback of the future Tua Tagovailoa? Based on their insistence that the other fellow — you know, the one the team acquired sixteen months ago for the late second round pick that is now widely viewed as the most valuable second rounder in the history the NFL, is still in play to become the long term starter here, for a sizable swath of fans, I would say, yes. Hey, to each his own. Anytime you have two guys in camp, one of whom is entering his third year in the league, while the other has barely been around for three weeks, and hasn’t seen a football field for nearly a year, and they’re roughly even after their first month together with the team, that pretty much tells you all you need to know. And the other guy isn’t any more likely than Tagovailoa to start the season opener, because incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick will back at practice by the end of this week. And, no, I haven’t heard or read that anywhere, I’m just telling you that’s what I see happening.

Finally, you know which rookie I’m really excited about right now? How about seventh rounder Malcolm Perry? This guy can do so many things, I think he’s going to be darn near impossible to cut, and the opt outs by Hurns and Wilson will only make him that much more valuable this season at receiver, which is where Miami has had him lining up lately. It’s precisely because of young guys like Malcolm Perry that aforementioned overpaid stiffs like Ballage and McMillan are no longer with the Dolphins. By the time his career is over, might Malcom Perry’s stature with the Dolphins approach rhythm guitarist Malcom Young’s stature in the rock world? We can only hope. Meanwhile, ‘Let There Be Rock’.