My mind, body, and soul have finally recovered from the incredible drubbing they all took while cranking out a whole article every week. The horror of reliable output. I know; it’s nothing in comparison to the devastation you endured having to read it.
Now that the 2021 season is over and *checks notes* literally nothing has happened since, I can make my triumphpant return to dulling your minds with my annual ‘What If GM’s Didn’t Need Any Qualifications?’ extravaganza!
I’ll start with links to years’ past. If you bother going back and reading all of these, I worry for your sanity.
Hopefully by now, you know the drill: I play make-believe as if I was a younger, more handsome, and hated-by-2%-less-of-the-fanbase GM than Chris Grier. Let’s start, as we often do, at the beginning.
Gryffindor vs. Slytherin
What follows is a spreadsheet (who says I don’t know how to party?) of my 2021 mock draft against the Dolphins’ 2021 real draft. Am I at a slight advantage because I do mock drafts in March and the players’ rankings slide around like a basilisk across a dining hall table? Of course. Is it tough to compare stats of two players that don’t share the same position? Sure, but it’s close enough for government work. If you have a difference of opinion on the ‘Winner’ column, that’s perfectly okay. I’ll just see you in hell.
2021 Draft Comparison Chart
|Penei Sewell, T (DET)
|PFF grade 77, 5 sacks allowed
|Jaylen Waddle, WR
|104 rec, 1015 yds, 6 TDs
|Micah Parsons, LB (DAL)
|DROY: 84 tks, 13 sacks, 3 FF
|Jaelan Phillips, LB
|42 tks, 8.5 sacks
|Najee Harris, RB (PIT)
|1200 yds, 7 TDs | 74 rec, 467 yds, 3 TDs
|Jevon Holland, S
|69 tks, 2.5 sacks, 2 INTs
|Tylan Wallace, WR (BAL)
|2 rec, 23 yds
|Liam Eichenberg, T
|PFF grade 50.8, 9 sacks allowed
|Creed Humphrey, C (KC)
|PFF grade 91.4, 1 sack allowed
|Hunter Long, TE
|1 rec, 8 yds
|Hamilcar Rashed Jr, DE (NYJ)
|Larnel Coleman, T
|Shemar Jean-Charles, CB (GB)
|Gerrid Doaks, RB
Would you look at that. I’m getting barely better at this. I will take my congratulatory phone call from Mr. Ross in the study.
The Sorting Hat
Free agency starts March 16th, 2022. The Dolphins have 27 players on their theoretical way to free agency (which feels like a lot). What would I do with every single one of them? I thought you’d never ask.
Jacoby Brissett, QB - Walk; as much as I love the Brissett One Yard Express, he gone
Duke Johnson, RB - Resign
Malcolm Brown, RB - Walk
Patrick Laird, RB - Walk
Phillip Lindsay, RB - Walk
Mack Hollins, WR - Resign
Isaiah Ford, WR - Walk
Will Fuller, WR - Walk (I’ll use this time to remind the world at large how rarely signing a constantly injured player ever turns into a player not being constantly injured)
Preston Williams, WR - Walk; Williams’ injuries are too frequent for him to rely on to make an impact, unfortunately
Albert Wilson, WR - Walk
Mike Gesicki, TE - Franchise Tagged; I, as an unabashed Gesicki supporter through and through, obviously hope that he gets a long term extension as soon as possible.
Durham Smythe, TE - Resign
Greg Mancz, C - Walk
Emmanuel Ogbah, DE - Resign; not working out a longer term deal with Ogbah will leave a sizeable hole in an already middling pass rush unit
John Jenkins, DT - Walk
Duke Riley, LB - Resign
Elandon Roberts, LB - Resign
Vince Biegel, LB - Walk
Sam Eguavoen, LB - Walk
Brennan Scarlett, LB - Walk
Nik Needham, CB - Resign
Trill Williams, CB - Resign
Justin Coleman, CB - Walk
Jason McCourty, CB - Walk
Sheldrick Redwine, S - Resign
Jamal Perry, S - Walk
Michael Palardy, P - Walk
Sword of Gryffindor
Additional cap space can be added to the current ~$51m by cutting a few players. Allow me to swing this blade wildly about like a lunatic.
Myles Gaskin, RB ($2.5m)
Salvon Ahmed, RB ($900k)
Allen Hurns, WR ($2.5m)
Solomon Kinely, G ($700k) - I know; we drafted him and everything. Robert Jones got playing time late last year and Kindley couldn’t crack a very weak lineup.
Jesse Davis, T ($3.6m)
Adam Pankey, T ($900k)
Greg Little, T ($1.5m)
Adam Butler, DT ($4.1m)
Calvin Munson, LB ($1.1m)
Clayton Fejedelem, S ($2.7m)
The remainder of this exercise in futility assumes that all of the aforementioned choices are gospel. Otherwise, what’s the point? Oh. I see. Well too late, I already typed all this up.
The Room of Requirement
Let’s play a game. It’s called ‘Does Miami need offensive line help?’ The rules are simple: if you’re alive enough to play, the answer is yes.
Did you win? No one wins.
The Dolphins’ offensive line was its worst unit in 2021, as has been the case since the time of the Mayans. I’ve long thought that the OL suffers from a blend of average talent and below average coaching. This year’s coaching staff turnover may give us a chance to test that theory if some of the underperforming youths are kept around (e.g. Austin Jackson). Despite the prospect of coaches finally getting some blood from a few stony looking fellows, I think new blood is still a necessity. Accio talent, amirite?
Behind that pile of Weasleys ran an odd set of backs. The year started with incumbent Myles Gaskin and his backup Salvon Ahmed as the two leads, only for them to be outgunned by midseason additions Phillip Linsday and Duke Johnson. New coach Mike McDaniel (heretofore referred to as either Coach McD or The Bearded Boy Who Lived) was the running game coordinator for the run heavy 49ers, so it sure wouldn’t hurt to have an every down back in Miami. It’s possible to get by with a solid rotation a la New England of yore, but I suspect it’s better to kill it with a dominant rotation a la Cleveland of recent.
Receiving options were a mixed bag last season. Jaylen Waddle excelled in catching a lot of passes, but stayed near the line of scrimmage a lot. Mike Gesicki was the next most reliable pass catcher and DeVante Parker continued to miss time as he has nearly every season of his career. Behind those three were a few contributors (Durham Smythe, Mack Hollins), but no standouts. Adding weapons is a must.
Last, but certainly not least (unless you’re one of the vocal opponents who in fact see him as least): Tua. The team has, at least publicly, stated its desire to build around Tua, an approach with which I agree. Besides all of the other help on offense, he’ll need a backup and ideally one that will push him to be his best.
What about the defense (Against the Dark Arts)?
The Fins’ pass rush improved from 41 sacks in 2020 to 48 in 2021 with consistent play from Emmanuel Ogbah (9 sacks both seasons) and the emergence of rookie Jaelan Phillips (8.5 sacks). Given that Josh Boyer was retained as Defensive Coordinator, I expect the schemes to be at least vaguely similar. The defense could use another pass rushing powerhouse, but it may come from the linebacking unit rather than the traditional three-point-stance group.
Speaking of linebackers, I’d love to see some new ones. I had (unfounded) high hopes that Andrew ‘The Ginkinator’ Van Ginkel would break out as a pass rush specialist, but alas, he was more muggle than magician. A couple of new faces at the second level would do wonders.
Bringing up the rear schematically, but leading the charge in productivity, is the secondary. Here’s to keeping the band together and allowing this position group to continue to flourish (and Blotts).
As far as Special Teams goes, it seems like a prudent move to bring in competition for Jason Sanders given his, let’s say, oscillating season last year. Michael Palardy can likely be upgraded while John Denney can keep wearing his Blake Ferguson mask all he wants.
Now that we’ve established what the Fins’ needs are, we simply need to wave a magic wand (10” eastern redcedar with dragon heartstring, in case you were wondering) and fill them all. Luckily, I have a wand and crystal ball and that weird little dude who was swimming in the lake with the tentacles and so on. I don’t have him as like a pet, but as a friend. I call him Sploshy. (He sucks).
I used OverTheCap’s calculator and Spotrac’s Market Value estimations to ensure that my moves aren’t fueled solely by whatever the Potterverse equivalent of meth is (ground house elf skin?). All of my machinations leave the Dolphins with ~$7m for signing the draft class. The internet tells me that’s enough. And the internet never lies.
Need: 1 backup
Options: FA (Mitch Trubisky, Marcus Mariota, Tyrod Taylor) or late round pick
Tua needs someone behind him with starting experience and a diverse skillset. Mariota wouldn’t be cause for Tua to look over his shoulder per se, but I wouldn’t fill Moaning Myrtle’s bathtub with tears if he had to step in as a starter in case of emergency.
Need: 1 starter, 2 backups
Options: FA(s) (Leonard Fournette, Marlon Mack, James Conner, Ronald Jones, Alex Collins) and mid round draft pick(s)
Fournette would serve as a reliable every down back in Miami’s likely-soon-to-be-run-centric-ish offense. Grouped with a rookie and Duke Johnson (and newly signed fullback John Lovett; not to mention returning hybrid Lynn Bowden), the Fins would have a lot more to work with in the backfield than they’ve had in a while.
Need: 1 starter, 1 backup
Options: FA (Allen Robinson, Keelan Cole, Christian Kirk) and mid round draft pick
Break out the checkbook. See if I care. Robinson is a bonafide number one receiver. Thanks to his down year in Chicago’s anemic offense last season, there’s a chance he can be signed for less money than he’s worth. Miami has the cap space to make him a reasonable offer and pair him with Jaylen Waddle to create a pair of bludgers something quidditch, etc. Grabbing another pass catcher in the mid rounds or so will give a rookie the opportunity to grow into a role for when DeVante Parker inevitably apparates.
The tight end group has been productive the last two seasons and I expect keeping it stable to pay dividends, just like my Mike Gesicki jersey will. IT HAS TO. I’M JUST LIGHTING MONEY ON FIRE EVERY FOUR YEARS RIGHT NOW.
Need: 1 starter, 1 backup
Options: FA (Terron Armstead, Trent Brown, Cam Robinson) and/or early draft pick(s)
Remember that measley checkbook from before? This time we’re backing our flying Ford Anglia straight up to the vault at Gringott’s. Armstead will cost a ton, no way around it. I don’t know about you, but IDGAF. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of watching the Dolphins’ offensive line be bad. Observant readers will note that I’m also doubling down with an early round draft pick. You best believe. What? Are there going to be too many good linemen on the team? Let me know when that’s the problem. I’ll be busy giving Terron Armstead his salary one galleon at a time for the next 400 years.
Options: FA (Bradley Bozeman, Ryan Jensen, Trai Turner, Billy Price, Will Hernandez)
Miami has already been linked to Rubeus Hagrid in the media and, despite being yet another top tier free agent, I’m on this Hogwarts Express too. A veteran center to anchor a growing line might be just what the doctor ordered and has yet to receive due to supply chain issues.
Need: 1 start-ish
Options: Early draft pick
The defensive scheme is a little convoluted on who exactly plays where and does what on any given snap, so in the interest of filling out the classic depth chart, I’m using an early draft pick on what the simulators like to call ‘Edge’. Pass rushers are a position that tend to cost a lot, so lucking into one via the draft (3 day long lottery, brought to you by Old Spice) is a good way to save money for a few years.
Need: 1 backup
Options: FA (Like a weirdly high amount of available DTs that would probably do the trick; I picked Hassan Ridgeway)
Raekwon Davis, Christian Wilkins, and Zach Seiler have this under control. Adding a cheap backup with a solid resume will round out the group.
Need: 1 starter, 2 backups
Options: FA(s) (Kenny Young, Jermaine Carter, Alec Ogletree, Anthony Walker, Christian Kirksey) and/or mid round draft pick(s)
Ogletree is reliable and should come cheap. He can challenge (and likely unseat) Elandon Roberts for the spot next to Jerome Baker or, at worst, work in a rotation. A couple of picks can be spent on one future linebacker with a well rounded skillset and another on an outside pass rush specialist, not necessarily in that order.
Need: 1 backup
Options: Late round draft pick
All those picks have to go somewhere. Grabbing a defensive back to develop never hurt anyone (still pulling for Noah Igbinoghene).
Need: 1 backup
Options: Late round draft pick
See the entry for ‘Cornerback’.
The team would be smart to force Sanders to beat out another kicker in camp after his 2021.
Need: 1 starter
Options: FA (Corey Bojorquez, Kevin Huber)
I like Bojorquez because he’s young, left footed, and kicked a league high 82 yard punt last year. That’s almost the whole field. A football field is 100 yards. So. That’s pretty good.
Need: John Denney
Author’s Note: Since I wrote this and was too lazy to update all of the accompanying (read: one) documents, the Dolphins are expected to sign QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Chase Edmonds, and WR Cedrick Wilson in free agency. They also resigned Emmanuel Ogbah, clearly following my plan to a T. Plug Bridgewater in for Mariota, Edmonds in Fournette’s place, and Wilson instead of a mid round draft pick. Now we’re cooking with peanut oil.
The Goblet of Fire
The Dolphins have eight (8) picks in the 2022 draft. Using a combination of big boards across FanSpeak and PFF, I came to the magical creature of a mock you see before you. As always, I’m not dealing in trades (though I’m sure the real life Dolphins will) and these players will guaranteed be nowhere close to available where I take them in this mock by the time the real life draft comes around. It’s time to see through the darkness. Lumos!
1.29 - Trevor Penning T Northern Iowa
2.50 - Arnold Ebikete Edge Penn State
3.101 - James Cook RB Georgia
4.119 - Khalil Shakir WR Baylor
4.123 - Channing Tindall LB Georgia
5.157 - Zakoby McClain LB Auburn
6.199 - Smoke Monday S Auburn
7.222 - Matt Hankins CB Iowa
Author’s Note: Did I pick Smoke Monday solely because he has the best name on the planet (his best friend Crunk Friday notwithstanding)? Duh.
At last, here it is. The greatest team ever assembled. Dumbledore’s army ready to kick Voldemort’s (I’m gonna assume we all agree that’s Bill Belichick) teeth in. It might look like I elected to just buy a new offense. I sure did and I’m not one bit sorry about it. The money’s there and it’ll make all of the goblin bank tellers overjoyed to see it spent.
2022 Depth Chart
|X Wide Receiver
|Y Wide Receiver
|Left Defensive End
|Right Defensive End
|Left Outside Linebacker
|Andrew Van Ginkel
|Left Inside Linebacker
|Right Inside Linebacker
|Right Outside Linebacker
|Colonel Jason Sanders
Did you make it the whole way down here? Did you skip all of the words and scroll straight to the bottom so you could yell at me in the comments? Well, beggars can’t be choosers. Let’s get to going.