Mason Thompson Aug 1st, 2019
The 2018 Dolphins started the season great with a 3-0 record. They then went on to have an up and down season the rest of the season with their biggest highlight coming on the final play against the New England Patriots on December 9th, now known as the “Miracle in Miami”. Ryan Tannehill got injured yet again and the team had to rely on Brock Osweiler for a majority of the season. The Dolphins finished the season 7-9, enough to place second in the AFC East, but not without a price. Adam Gase was fired and replaced by former Patriots de facto defensive coordinator Brian Flores.
One of the biggest moves was the hiring of Flores who brings Chad O’Shea in as his offensive coordinator and former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell as his Quarterbacks coach. Caldwell will also help with the development of new quarterback Josh Rosen who the team acquired via trade for a second-round pick. Along with Rosen, the team signed journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick to try and improve the quarterback position. Ja’Wuan James was not retained by the team as they signed Jordan Mills to possibly fill the void at right tackle. Robert Quinn was traded to the Cowboys for a sixth-round pick and Cameron Wake was not retained as he went to Tennessee.
The Dolphins opted to wait on their quarterback situation until the second night of the draft weekend, which worked out better than most thought. The team selected Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins with the 13th pick. The team then snagged versatile Wisconsin lineman Michael Deiter in the third round. They then went back to Wisconsin for the fifth-round selection of linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel. Isaiah Prince and Myles Gaskin should compete for a roster spot and playing time. Undrafted Colorado State wide receiver Preston Williams could be a star during the preseason.
Dolphins fans should see a fairly different offensive lineup this year compared to last as the team only has five returning starters from last year. Fitzpatrick and Rosen were added to compete for the quarterback spot. The backfield is strong with Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage who could form a backfield committee to start the preseason. The receiving core lacks a true number one and has players that have their own strengths. The offensive line has undergone a complete makeover from last year and still needs improvement, specifically on the interior.
This defense is very intriguing and has a lot of young talent who are not recognized by the average viewer. Charles Harris needs to step up and show why the team used a first-round pick on him when he came out of Missouri. Jerome Baker and Raekwon McMillan are a great young duo at the second level, who continue to improve and should be considered building blocks for the team. Minkah Fitzpatrick had a solid rookie season and will look to continue on that success in his second season. The Dolphins rewarded cornerback Xavien Howard by giving him a massive five-year contract extension worth 76.5 million, making him the highest-paid cornerback in the league. Fitzpatrick, Howard, Baker, and McMillan will be the leaders of this defense this season.
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
QB (2) Josh Rosen, Ryan Fitzpatrick
These two will battle with each other all preseason to see who earns the starting spot come week one. Fitzpatrick has gotten better reviews than Rosen so far during camp but Rosen will play during the season either as the starter or if Fitzpatrick falters. Jake Rudock is the third quarterback who should get the majority of reps this August.
RB (5) Kenyan Drake, Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, Kenneth Farrow, Chandler Cox(FB)
Drake was the most unutilized back in the league with Adam Gase and should get more opportunities this year. Ballage has a ton of burst for his size and should be involved in the offense. Gaskin could get work as a punt returner opposite Jakeem Grant on kicks. Farrow gets the nod over the troubled Mark Walton. Cox makes it as the fullback.
WR (6) DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, Allen Hurns, Jakeem Grant, Preston Williams
Parker needs to prove himself once again during camp. Stills is a great deep threat. Wilson hasn’t lived up to the contract that the team gave him last offseason but should beat out Brice Butler for the slot role. Hurns was signed this past week to give a reliable option, while Grant offers great return ability.
TE (4) Mike Gesicki, Dwayne Allen, Nick O’Leary, Durham Smythe
Gesicki is a bright young tight end who should explode this year. Dwayne Allen was signed in the offseason to help with blocking. O’Leary was signed during the season last year and should make the team. Smythe beats out former Raider Clive Walford for the fourth tight end spot.
OL (8) Laremy Tunsil, Jordan Mills, Michael Deiter, Jesse Davis, Daniel Kilgore, Chris Reed, Zach Sterup, Isaiah Prince
Tunsil has turned out to be a star after his draft night freefall. Deiter and Reed will battle for the left guard spot. Prince could be a potential find if Mills struggles at right tackle. The center and right guard spots are weak spots of the team with Davis and Kilgore slotted in as starters.
DL (5) Christian Wilkins, Davon Godchaux, Vincent Taylor, Adolphus Washington, Joey Mbu
This group has a ton of young talent. Wilkins was a great pick in the first round. Godchaux was a fifth-round pick who has surprised. Taylor is returning from injury but should make the roster. Washington is the veteran. Mbu gets the last spot over Akeem Spence, who if cut, would save the Dolphins three million in cap space.
McMillan could be a potential star if he develops. Alonso has a bad reputation but is a key to this defense. Van Ginkel is similar to what Flores had in New England with Kyle Van Noy and will get playing time as a rookie. Allen and Hull round out the group as backups.
EDGE (5) Jerome Baker, Charles Harris, Jonathan Ledbetter, Nate Orchard, Jonathan Woodard
Baker could break out this year. Harris needs to show why he was a first-round pick. Ledbetter went undrafted but could’ve been drafted as high as the fifth round. Orchard has been on multiple teams in the last few years but should make the roster as depth. Woodard could start at defensive end in base 4-3 packages.
CB (6) Xavien Howard, Eric Rowe, Bobby McCain, Cordrea Tankersley, Torry McTyer, Jalen Davis
The Dolphins need to find a starter opposite of Howard, whether that be Rowe, McCain, or McTyler who showed flashes last year. When Flores was in New England, they used four corners on almost every play so depth will be needed in the secondary.
SAF (4) Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. McDonald, Reshad Jones, Walt Aikens
Fitzpatrick could be listed as a corner or safety since he also plays a lot of slot corner. Jones has been a name in trade talks but should stay since Fitzpatrick has such a large role as the slot corner. McDonald is the man who could anchor the back end and Aikens provides depth while also playing a key role on special teams.
ST (3) Jason Sanders, Matt Haack, John Denney
Sanders had a solid rookie season last year. Haack has competition in camp with Stone Wilson also competing for the punter spot. Denney is 41 but still reliable for the team.
The Dolphins are still in a full rebuild. There are holes all over the roster including a true number one receiver, center, right guard, and a corner opposite of Howard. The team has been rumored to tank but they have enough talent to win a couple games this year with their solid coaching staff. The team should lean on the run game with Drake and Ballage. The defense is solid and has a lot of depth on the defensive line but will be overpowered by a dominant offense due to the hole at the second cornerback spot.
Season Prediction: 5-11
The Dolphins have talent in key positions but with a new coaching staff and a roster built together through the offseason, it’s going to take a while for the team to come together as a whole as I am projecting 17 new players on the roster from last year. The team will have a top ten pick and should look to build up the receiving core and interior offensive line.
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Main Image Credit:Embed from Getty Images