As just about everyone knows, at least those interested in the NFL Draft, the Dolphins cleared out their roster before last season started and when the smoke cleared they possessed a league leading 14 Picks. Included in that number were 6 Picks in the Top 70, where starters are supposed to come from each year. I doubt the team will use all 14 Picks for themselves. Some are likely to be used to move up for players they covet, and some may go to get more extra Picks for next year.
But for now let’s get started on their 2020 Draft effort.
Round 1, Pick 5 TUA TAGOVAILOA QB Alabama 6’0/217 (PP#5) After all that talking about ‘Tanking For Tua” early last season, the Dolphins end up finding him sitting right there at their Pick 5. I think he ends up on a PUP List which would technically make him eligible to play around mid-season. On the one hand, the team will want to make sure he’s as healthy as can be before getting him out on the field of play. On the other hand, he’s pro ready if he’s healthy and RYAN FITZPATRICK may be hurt by then. I say be patient and see how things unfold. Remember how efficient this guy can be. Before his hip injury, TUA completed 71.4% of his passes last season, including 33 TD passes and only 3 INT’s. Besides his physical tools, he has a high FBI and plays just as smart. He will become the only lefty starting QB in the NFL, for those of you who forgot that he’s a southpaw.
Round 1, Pick 18 JUSTIN JEFFERSON WR LSU 6’1/202 (PP#19) Now the work begins to get the roster ready for TUA to have some help whenever he takes over on the field. JEFFERSON was part of an elite WR group for the NCAA Champ Tigers. He started two seasons and led the team in catches both times. Last season, he exploded for 111 receptions @ 13.8 ypc and 18 TD’s. Going into the Draft prep season, the two biggest concerns regarding JEFFERSON were his lack of elite speed and a somewhat slender body. He put both of those concerns to bed during the Combine. He ran a very respectable 4.43/40, and did so with his weight up to 202 lbs. He is quick as well as fast, and shows very reliable hands at 9 1/8″ size. He extends well for the catch with his 33″ long arms. He has become much more than a possession receiver, which was the tag on him 2 years ago. I expect him to be Receiver-One before the 2020 season ends.
Round 1, Pick 26 AUSTIN JACKSON OT Southern Cal 6’5/322 (PP#26) A very athletic, big bodied LT who is just beginning to reach his peak. NFL Coaching and Weight Room programs should help him reach his physical potential. Mark him down as a starting LT, and soon. His grand-father played OG for 5 years in the NFL, so the genes are present. His 10 1/4″ hands and 34 1/8″ arms are what NFL teams are looking for. I was impressed when I compared his arm length to his Bench Press number of 27 reps. And he’s far from having a maxed out body. He has nimble feet and good quickness. Very few defenders will beat him off the snap. The slight oddity here might be the desire to move him to RT to protect the blind side of the left-handed throwing of TUA. I really can’t imagine that being a huge challenge for him.
Round 2, Pick 39 KYLE DUGGER S Lenoir-Rhyne 6’1/217 (PP#41) He is ranked by many as the best small school Draft prospect in the country, and his work in Mobile at the Senior Bowl did not disappoint. He is a very versatile performer. He can play his normal S spot, or drop down into the box to play as a Nickel-LB. And for kicks, he can actually Return Punts. He and fellow small-schooler Jeremy Chinn were the two best S’s at the Senior Bowl, to my eyes. He then put the frosting on the cake at the Combine, with a 4.47/40, 42″ vertical jump, 10 3/8″ hands and 32 7/8″ arms. He is not a carbon copy of MINKAH FITZPATRICK, but has the latent talent to adequately take his place in the Dolphins secondary. Watch for this young man to do great things in the NFL.
Round 2, Pick 56 TYLER BIADASZ OC Wisconsin 6’4/314 (PP#56) Say hello to a 3-year starter and the anchor of the Badgers OL for the past 2 years. He’s a product of small town, Amherst, WI, which is primarily dairy farm country. I know. I lived there for about 25 years. He’s not pretty at times, but the results of his work are! He’s a bulldozer, with a strong body and decent athleticism for his size. He’s a hard worker and made all the line calls for the Badgers O. His 10″ hands and 32 1/4″ arms are just fine for the middle of an OL. He’s best in the run game, where he pulls and get’s downfield on running plays with devastating effect. He is not quite so good in pass pro, but the run game is where the Dolphins want to excel, and that is where he will do his best work. Pass Pro should improve with NFL level coaching.
Round 3, Pick 70 JORDAN ELLIOTT DT Missouri 6’4/302 (PP#76) He is a better athlete than a player at this stage of his career, but if you watch his tape, he jumps off the screen at you when he makes flash plays. The chore here will be to get consistent effort and productivity from him out on the field of play. His 5.02/40 at the Combine, with its 1.70 yard split were solid, and his 10 1/4″ hands and 32 3/8″ arms also were good numbers. He is quick off the snap and penetrates well into the backfield. His numbers for 2019: 44 T’s- 8.5 TFL- 2.5 S’s- 6 QBH’s and 3 PBU’s. He needs a bit more strength for NFL DL, and needs to do more than flash to gain starter status as a pro. However, the talent and tools are just waiting to be unlocked.
Round 4, Pick 141 ANTHONY McFARLAND RB Maryland 5’8/208 (PP#148) The Dolphins have the big Backs in HOWARD/BALLAGE, but lack a true speedster and home run threat. So here he is in a short, but strong, body. Maryland’s OL has been mediocre to poor the last two seasons, but McFARLAND has shown enough to make many talent evaluators think that he would round out their current backfield unit nicely. He posted a 4.44/40 at the Combine. He rushed for over a thousand yards in 2017 as a RS Frosh. He was slowed a bit last season with an ankle injury, but overall he has burst, quickness, and good open field vision. If he stays healthy and they work with him, he could end up being a very nice addition to their RB room.
Round 5, Pick 153 JABARI ZUNIGA DE Florida 6’3/263 (PP#153) Many feel that ZUNIGA is a step away from being a dominant player that can set the edge against the run and also pile up some sack numbers as well. He has heavy hands but doesn’t really know how to use them effectively on a consistent basis. Those 10 3/8″ clubs could make great weapons. He only played in 6 games last season, which was due to one of those nagging high ankle sprains, and that may be why he’s still here in Round 5. He’s a good player with even more upside to him.
Round 5, Pick 154 CAMERON DANTZLER CB Mississippi State 6’2/188 (PP#156) Scouts luv his size on the Corner. He plays even longer than his numbers indicate. He is also a very aggressive and tough hombre. He hits hard and does not shy away from contact, but at the Combine he could only manage to run a 4.64/40. That’s LB speed, not CB speed. However, he clearly plays faster than that time when you watch game tape. He has also shown good ball skills down the field. If he can run a bit faster than that 40-time, he might be a decent pro.
Round 5, Pick 173 BENITO JONES DT Ole Miss 6’1/316 (PP#169). He was a five star recruit out of high school that showed flashes, but never quite put it together on a regular basis. He does find his way into opponent’s backfields at times. He’s country strong from working on his family’s farm when away from school. He shows surprisingly good burst at the snap of the ball, considering that he only managed a 5.30/40 at the Combine. His game is just too inconsistent right now to help much as a pro, but his 2019 stats give you an idea of what he can do when he flashes; 30 T’s- 10 TFL- 5.5 S’s-7 QBH’s and 1 INT. It’s worth a try here even if he’s just a gap plugger. He could be stronger at the point of attack against the run than most of the guys on their roster right now. He does have the flexibility to play in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme.
The Dolphins have another 4 Picks in Rounds 6 & 7, but as I mentioned at the top, I doubt they will all be there as Day 3 unfolds. Most of them may be used as throw-ins to move around in this and/or next year’s Draft. So for now, let’s just list them and move on. Picks: R6, Pick 185; R7, Pick 227; R7, Pick 246; R7, Pick 251.
The Dolphins need all the added talent they can get, and need help at just about every position group. So let’s just say they cannot fix everything in one Draft, even with their plethora of picks. However, if all their Picks stick and get playing time to develop, the 2021 Draft just might be enough to launch them into AFC East title competition in 2021. They have signed a solid, if unspectacular, group of VFA’s so far in 2020. Be patient and look for progress, not instant gratification, Dolphins fans.