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AFC East

Dolphins Season Preview – OL and DL

Dolphins Offensive Line, Photo By June Rivera, (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)

The trenches in the 2019 season were not in the Miami Dolphins favor last season. On the offensive side, Miami was tied for last in sacks allowed with 58. According to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins were ranked last in the NFL in offensive line play, allowing 2.22 seconds on average time to pressure on the QB. It’s the reason why Ryan Fitzpatrick ended up being the teams leading rusher for the 2019 season, due to the fact that he was always scrambling in the pocket due to the lack of time he had. They struggled to create holes for running backs, both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen we’re running for their lives

Julien Davenport had a PFF grade of 56.5 in 2019, 53.7 in the last 3 years, ranking him 76th of 81 tackles over that span. Davenport was obtained after Miami traded former 13th overall pick Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans for 2 1st round picks and a 2nd. This offseason though, Chris Grier and Brian Flores they not only addressed the Offensive Line, they invested in it. They used the 18th pick in the NFL Draft on Austin Jackson (OT, USC), a pick they acquired in the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

With the 39th overall pick, Miami selected Robert Hunt out of Louisiana Lafayette, who can either play right guard or right tackle. They also traded 2 4th round picks (136 and 141) to the Houston Texans to trade up to 111 to get Georgia Guard Solomon Kindley. Not sure whether he’ll start immediately, but definitely will compete with Jesse Davis and former 2019 3rd round Michael Deiter for a starting guard position.

Michael Deiter had a PFF grade of 42.5, fifth-worst among guard, tied for second in most sacks allowed by guards as well. Even though he is not expected to be at the top of the depth chart at guard, we should expect better performances from Deiter knowing that the unit around him is better than the previous year, so it doesn’t seem that the Miami Dolphins are going to give up yet on the Former 3rd round pick out of Wisconsin.

Miami signed former Patriot C Ted Karra’s to a one-year deal and former 1st round Ereck Flowers to a 3-year deal. Flowers struggled in his first few years with the New York Giants playing left tackle but had his best season in 2019 playing left guard for the Washington Football Team. Flowers had a grade of 64.1 ranking 33rd among guards and only allowed 2 sacks last year.

The offensive line had a complete makeover, it’s going to take time for them to gel. Though Chris Grier and Brian Flores want to do whatever it takes to protect their potential franchise QB in Tua Tagovailoa.

 

The defensive line was not any better for the Miami Dolphins, ranking last in sacks on the Quarterback with 23, 5 less than the second-worst team. That meant that the Dolphins DL needed a makeover.

The most impressive DL player was first-round pick Christian Wilkins, led all NFL Rookie DT’s in tackles with 56, and this is where he didn’t even get passed the first play on defense in a road game against the Buffalo Bills last year, which he threw a punch and got ejected for it. He had a PFF grade of 64.4 overall, ranking him 7th in rookie defensive linemen.

Former Dolphins first-round pick Charles Harris continued to disappoint, only getting half a sack, and 6 QB hits in 14 games played, and only 5 starts. Harris’ lack of production during his 3 years in Miami, the Dolphins ended up trading him to the Atlanta Falcons for a conditional 7th round pick in 2021, Atlanta, as expected did not to pick up the 5th year option.

The 2017 5th round pick Davon Godchaux since being drafted has been a fan favorite of the Dolphins and the coaching staff as well. He is one of two remaining players on the roster from the 2017 draft(the other is WR Isaiah Ford). With Raekwon McMillan getting traded to Las Vegas Raiders, it looks like Godchaux will be the one to get an extension from the 2017 NFL Draft. Godchaux Led all Dolphins D-linemen in tackles, and QB hits and tackles for loss.

So, like the offensive line, Miami invested in their defensive line as well, signing Super Bowl Champion Emmanuel Ogbah from the Chiefs and Shaq Lawson of the Buffalo Bills. Also addressed the Defensive Line 3 different times in the 2020 NFL Draft. Using a second-round pick that they received from the Saints to draft Raekwon Davis out of Alabama, who we will likely see as helping in stopping the run alongside Christian Wilkins in the interior, Davis recorded 19.5 tackles for loss during his 4 years at Alabama.

At pick 154 acquired from the Steelers in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade (vía Jacksonville in their trade for Josh Dobbs), Miami selected Jason Strowbridge out of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he is also a South Florida native. Strowbridge had 22 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks, 5 of them coming in his redshirt Junior season. Though he is a day 3 pick, what is not in question that Strowbridge is a freak athlete according to his position coach at UNC, Tim Cross.

With the 164th pick, Miami traded up 9 spots with the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire Curtis Weaver out of Boise State, only to be released by the Miami Dolphins and then later getting picked up by the Cleveland Browns on waivers. As disappointed as it was for Miami to lose him, it was a risk for Miami to keep him on the roster from a salary cap perspective.

The offensive and defensive lines will both be a work in progress this year for the Dolphins. With both units ranking last in sacks allowed on the offensive side and sacking the QB on the defensive side, there isn’t that go-to pass rusher that Miami had during the Cameron Wake years. Expect the sacks to be more spread out as opposed to one player getting a huge majority of them. On the offensive side, there is not that dominant offensive lineman who rarely gives up sacks and QB hits as the majority of that unit are either rookies or veterans let go by other teams. Coaches will definitely be reevaluating these two united throughout this season and next offseason.

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