Add new linebacker David Long Jr. to the list of people intrigued by what the Miami Dolphins are putting together on the defensive side of the football.
The Dolphins made Vic Fangio the league’s highest-paid defensive coordinator before trading for three-time All-Pro Jalen Ramsey. During Long’s introductory conference on Thursday, he noted that going through free agency was tough — but the Dolphins piqued his interest.
“I mean, it was a stressful process, the free agency process,” Long said. “I was just hearing a lot of different things and Miami was just the best fit I thought for me and my future. And then as far as like the players, I know a lot of them. A lot of us have the same agent. So I know a lot of those guys for a few years now. And then just the history of the DC [Vic Fangio].
“He’s had one of their top defenses for a while. So it just felt like a great fit. And then when I got down there, it felt like an even better fit.”
Long was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans, where he spent his first three seasons. He started nine games for the Titans and closed the year with four tackles for a loss, two interceptions, and even got in the way of six passes.
“As far as role, I really haven’t discussed (that),” Long said, “I’m just ready to get to work and just fit in however I can. As far as the defense, he plays that same style that I like. Fast and aggressive as far as having a linebacker on the field all three downs. And also, it felt like a good fit. I feel like as the time goes, I’ll learn more about his way and the way he sees fits.”
Long earned a two-year $11 million contract with the Dolphins after earning a 76.2 Pro Football Focus grade in 2022. He played 477 snaps in coverage and 216 in run defense. According to PFF, he was the sixth-best run-stopping linebacker with a grade of 89.
He was also the sixth-highest-graded pass-rushing linebacker with a grade of 80.1. Former Dolphins linebacker Elandon Roberts closed the season with the highest grade (89.2) and Jerome Baker was No. 3 (86.2).
While Fangio may not blitz as much as former defensive coordinator Josh Boyer did, these grades may provide a few hints as to how the team will use Long next season.
“I feel great man as far as the pieces that we have and also just me being familiar with the guys around,” Long said. “Sometimes you come into a new defense and you got to get a feel for guys, how close you are off the field as well plays a major role in that chemistry on the field. So I’m just glad that I know a lot on each level.”
“Christian (Wilkins), Raekwon [Davis], Jaelan [Phillips], Jevon [Holland], Xavien [Howard]. All those dudes I’m already familiar with so it really shouldn’t be too much of getting to know (them). I know those guys play fast and aggressive and talk smack just like me.”